North Korea operating regiment-level biochemical weapons unit: South Korea military

The chimneys of a power station amid the Pyongyang city skyline in a photograph taken on February 17, 2017.
The chimneys of a power station amid the Pyongyang city skyline in a photograph taken on February 17, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - North Korea likely operates a regiment-level biochemical weapons unit, South Korea's military was cited as saying on Monday (Feb 27) as it highlighted the need for the country to be prepared for unconventional attacks in the wake of Kim Jong Nam's assassination this month.

Seoul has been paying more attention to Pyongyang's development of biochemical weapons after Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport with the deadly VX nerve agent on Feb 13, Yonhap news agency reported.

The murder, carried out by two women from Indonesia and Vietnam, is believed to have been ordered by Jong Un.

VX is classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction and banned around the world.

Yonhap said the Ministry of National Defence told the Bareun Party, a splinter of South Korea's ruling party, at a meeting that North Korea operates production facilities for chemical and biological weapons, and has a stockpile of such materials that can be used in any attack.

The military said it plans to bolster its detection capabilities against North Korea's possible biochemical provocation, reported Yonhap.

Separately on Monday, a South Korea government-run institute on chemical safety said it is obtaining sophisticated equipment for effectively dealing with chemical accidents and chemical terrorism at the 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics and other major sports events, reported Yonhap.

The equipment comprises 13 chemical agent detectors, six infrared spectrometers for analysing solids and liquids, 13 drones and six vehicles for emergency spot inspections, the report said, citing the National Institute of Chemical Safety.