South Korea’s intelligence services have discovered that North Korea has begun tests to load anthrax onto intercontinental ballistic missiles.
According to a report in Japan’s Asahi newspaper, an unidentified source associated with South Korea’s intelligence services reported that North Korea was conducting biological weapons experiments to ascertain whether the anthrax bacteria could survive the high temperatures generated during the reentry of warheads into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The U.S. government is apparently aware of the tests, which involve North Korea’s stockpile of between 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons.
South Korea previously reported that North Korea is capable of producing biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox.
The Asahi report was published a day after the White House unveiled its National Security Strategy, a document stating that Pyongyang is “pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile.”
“North Korea — a country that starves its own people — has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that could threaten our homeland,” the report said.
The World Health Organization estimated that should 50kg of anthrax be released from an aircraft over an urban population of five million, 250,000 people would contract the disease.
Anthrax presents with an initial phase of flu-like symptoms that usually last for one to three days. A second phase of the disease includes high fever, chest pains, severe breathing problems and shock. Death usually follows within two days.
After firing a new Hwasong-15 ICBM in late November, North Korea claimed it had completed its nuclear force.
South Korea assessed the missile and concluded that it could potentially fly approximately 8,000 miles and reach Washington, D.C., though additional analysis was needed to determine if the missile was capable of reentry into the earth’s atmosphere.
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