US slaps new sanctions on North Korea over killing of Kim Jong Un's half-brother

US slaps new sanctions on North Korea over killing of Kim Jong Un's half-brother
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The State Department on Tuesday announced new sanctions against North Korea after it determined Kim Jong Un’s government used a chemical weapon to assassinate the leader’s half-brother. 

The State Department said the North Korean government used the chemical VX, which is banned under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, to kill Kim Jong Nam.

“This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean [weapon of mass destruction] program of any kind,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

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Kim Jong Nam died last year after two women smeared the substance on his face at an airport in Kuala Lumpur. A chemist later determined that traces of VX, a nerve agent, were found on the two women accused of killing Kim Jong Nam.

The new sanctions come as North Korea signaled it would be willing to halt its nuclear program and engage in discussions with the United States.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE at a Tuesday press conference took credit for the improved relations, and called them a positive development.

“It would be a great thing for the world, it would be a great thing for North Korea, it would be a great thing for the peninsula. But we’ll see what happens,” the president said. 

Other officials have approached North Korea's willingness to abandon its nuclear program with skepticism.

“Hope springs eternal, but we need to learn a lot more relative to these talks, and we will,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday. 

The Trump administration announced last month a series of new sanctions against North Korea targeting the country's fuel shipments.