Malaysian authorities said Tuesday the body of Kim Jong Nam — the estranged half-brother of North Korea's dictatorial leader Kim Jong Un — had been embalmed to better preserve the cadaver. 

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the body was taken from a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, embalmed and then returned to the hospital, the Associated Press reported. Zahid did not specify when the process took place. 

"As it is kept in the mortuary, the body might decompose, so we did this to preserve the body," Zahid said.

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Nam was killed in Kuala Lumpur airport last month with a banned nerve agent. South Korean officials have claimed Kim Jong Un himself ordered the killing of his eldest brother. North Korea has denied any wrongdoing in the incident and has denied the man was even Kim Jong Nam, referring to him only as Kim Chol, the name on the passport of the man who was killed. Malaysian officials have said Kim Jong Nam and Kim Chol are the same person but have declined to elaborate. 

Health officials told the AP that Kim's relatives would have a few weeks to retrieve the body. 

North Korea has blamed its southern neighbor and the U.S. for the controversy over Kim's death. 

"From A to Z, this case is the product of reckless moves of the United States and South Korean authorities," Kim In Ryong, North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, told reporters. "The United States and the South Korean authorities are groundlessly blaming the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]."

Meanwhile, tensions between the countries have continued to rise as the U.S. and South Korea have carried out military drills while North Korea has illegally tested missiles. 

"If they infringe on the DPRK's sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater," North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said Tuesday.