Home > Current Affairs, Technology > Kim Jong-Nam was Assassinated with a Binary Version of VX

Kim Jong-Nam was Assassinated with a Binary Version of VX

As many of you must have heard by now, Kim Jong-Nam (the elder brother of the current North Korean leader Kim Jong-Um) was assassinated about 10 days (on 13 February 2017) by two women spraying something toxic on his face. Since that day, there has been much speculation about the identity of the toxic substance in the sprays which killed him. This was especially so because the two women who were paid to spray him were themselves unskilled locals who were unaffected by whatever they used on him. However that very fact that two sprays were used seemed to suggest that the toxic compound was a binary chemical agent- most likely a never gas.

It seems that this particular theory has now been confirmed. Earlier today, the Malaysian police announced that preliminary tests show that Kim Jong-Nam was killed by a potent nerve gas known as VX. So why does the use of VX suggest that it was generated in situ by a binary chemical reaction– apart from two women spraying him with stuff that did not kill them? Well.. because VX is highly toxic and has certain physical properties (high viscosity and low volatility) which make its use as a gas or spray really problematic- especially if an actual human being is doing the spraying. However it is far easier to use as binary chemical weapon because both components of the binary mix (QL and Sulfur) are fairly safe by themselves.

The structure of VX and QL as well as the general schematics of the chemical reaction which generates VX from QL and Sulfur are shown below. The short version of the story is that QL reacts with Sulfur to generate an intermediate compound which then undergoes a slight chemical rearrangement to form VX.


As you can see, the reaction is fairly simple and the two components which generate VX in situ are themselves fairly non-toxic. While there have a few isolated incidents in the past 2-3 decades (link 1, link 2, link 3) of people using weaponized organophosphate compounds aka ‘nerve gases’ to kill a few people- this incident is perhaps the first the first one to use a binary chemical agent for assassinating a public figure of any significance.

Update: It is possible that the North Koreans might have used the binary version of another structurally similar compound or a different organophosphate ‘nerve gas’ such as Sarin.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. February 23, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    did you hear, richard spencer got punched twice….

    woulda been much funnier if he got sprayed twice…

  2. February 23, 2017 at 11:18 pm

  3. Not Born This Morning
    February 24, 2017 at 11:10 am

    It is simply a matter of time before Kim Jong-Um is murdered himself. He has murdered a number of subordinates including family. His stupidity in this regard only sharpens and intensifies the resolve and cunning of those plotting his demise right under his nose. Those who work for him all know beyond any uncertainty that he has absolutely zero compassion or respect for them and he cannot be trusted in the least. He is a
    menance to all but most significantly and especially to each of his closest associates. It is just a matter of time…..

  4. P Ray
    February 24, 2017 at 11:21 am

    The killers smeared it over his face, so how did the reaction happening at 70 Celcius occur?
    Since it was an airport with industrial cooling being used to keep temperature low for the comfort of passengers/visitors?
    It might be a analogue of VX, that reaches poisonous levels at room temperature or under, and requires contact with a mucuous membrane – which is why they went for his mouth/nose and maybe used a cloth to force inhalation through breathing.

    • P Ray
      February 24, 2017 at 11:22 am

      On the flip side, if a cloth was involved, 70 Celcius temperature is possible – at Chinese restaurants hot flannels are provided at the end of a meal … something similar could easily be handled by people for a brief period of time to convert the ingredients to VX.

      70 Celcius is the optimal temperature for that isomerization- so it is possible that the reaction in question while significantly slower at body temperature would still have produced enough VX to kill him. Alternatively, they could have used a different set of binary reagents to produce it- or something similar to it.

  5. February 24, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    off topic, have you seen this:


    Slate is an “interesting” news outlet- to say the least. Having said that Trump has, over the years, taken almost every position on major issues- including nuclear weapons.

  6. February 25, 2017 at 10:10 am

    hey Advipoops,


    you will probably get a hearty laugh from the videos…

    In this day and age, videos like this are more amusing than sad- especially since the premium on being white is going down the tubes at an ever accelerating rate.

  7. February 25, 2017 at 11:48 pm

  8. February 26, 2017 at 7:20 am

    sounds like nonsense, since this would risky

    binary generation of nerve agetns turned out to be a no-go in munitions, much more so in such a thin, short lasting film

    they simply used an oil dissolved VX material with low concentration of VX, thus minimizing exposure

    on the flip side, the murdered man was a total douche, close to the IQ of his brother, he knew that assasination was likely, yet he waited like 5 years before trying to wipe that thing off his face

    mucus membranes in nose and close to the eyes may be the another answer..in combination with the above mentioned

  9. balu
    August 31, 2017 at 5:59 am

    Sorry guys, this article missed the mark by far (unlike the others in this blog). It is very unlikely that the older Kim was assassinated by the DPRK. He was very likely a senior envoy for his brother (this is confirmed lately by his valid diplomatic passport). Also it is very _un_likely that the DPRK has chemical weapons. The whole incident looks like a (crude) provocation, very likely performed by the South. Note, that the presence of VX has not been confirmed even now.

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