North Korea’s biochemical weapons capabilities may be even more dangerous than its nuclear missile program with weapons that could “wipe out all of humanity,” the conservative South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported Thursday, citing the New York Times.
The revelations were reportedly in a study by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies published in December, suggesting that disarming its illegal nuclear program would not end the threat North Korea poses to the world, and that biological weapons may pose a more challenging one than nuclear bombs.
“A single gallon of anthrax, if suitably distributed, could end human life on Earth,” the New York Times noted. “Even so, the Trump administration has given scant attention to North Korea’s pursuit of living weapons — a threat that analysts describe as more immediate than its nuclear arms, which Pyongyang and Washington have been discussing for more than six months.”
The article cites the view of Andrew C. Weber, a Pentagon official in charge of nuclear chemical and biological defense programs under the Obama administration, as saying that North Korea is “far more likely to use biological weapons than nuclear ones. The programme is advanced, underestimated, and highly lethal.”
As well as anthrax, other chemical agents being pursued by researchers in Pyongyang reportedly include smallpox, a deadly virus that kills around a third of those who contract it. Several North Korean military defectors tested positive for smallpox antibodies, meaning they have either been exposed to the virus or vaccinated against it. Other potent chemical agents believed to have been weaponized include hydrogen cyanide, phosgene, sarin, tabun, and chlorine.
World powers who consider North Korea a threat have paid little attention publically to North Korea’s biochemical weapon capabilities. Current negotiations between the Trump administration and Pyongyang center around the Trump commitment to ridding the country of its nuclear weapons program, which it has long used as its primary threat against the United States and any other hostile powers. North Korea has also historically boasted little about this program compared to its repeated threats to use nuclear weapons on the U.S. mainland.
According to South Korea’s latest defense white paper published on Tuesday, “North Korea produced between 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical and biological weapons since the 1980s, while it is capable of cultivating and producing a wide range of biological weapons including anthrax, smallpox and bubonic plague.”
In 2017, North Korea accused the CIA and its South Korea affiliate, the Intelligence Service (IS), of planning a similar biochemical weapon attack against its “supreme leadership,” although no concrete evidence was ever provided for such a claim.
“A hideous terrorists’ group, which the CIA and the IS infiltrated into the DPRK on the basis of covert and meticulous preparations to commit state-sponsored terrorism against the supreme leadership of the DPRK by use of a biochemical substance, has been recently detected,” state media said at the time.