SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - North Korea may be mass producing biological weapons in a research lab that studies agricultural chemicals, Pyongyang Bio-Technical Institute, a US media outlet reported on Saturday (Oct 21), citing an academic report.
Radio Free Asia cited a report released by Belfer Centre of Harvard University's Kennedy School in October, which says the communist state already has biological weapons and its industrial facilities are able to produce such weapons.
"It is likely that anthrax and small pox is already used as a biological weapon," the report said. "North Korean soldiers are vaccinated against small pox, and so are US Army (personnel) stationed in South Korea - against small pox and anthrax."
North Korea is thought to have 13 pathogens in possession including botulism, cholera and plague, the researchers said.
On means of delivery, the report said missiles, drones, airplanes, sprayers and human vectors are likely to be used. It also mentioned human agents as a plausible delivery method of the biological weapons, as the country has 200,000 special forces members.
The report added that the difficulty in verifying the rogue state's capability partly arises from the dual-use of the equipment and facilities in creating the weapons.
"While nuclear programmes can be monitored by the number of nuclear tests and the success of missile tests, weaponising and cultivating pathogens can stay invisible behind closed doors," the authors explained.
"Moreover, equipment used for BW (biological weapon) production are often dual-use for agriculture, making external monitoring and verification virtually impossible."
Citing testimonies of defectors, it also wrote that the communist regime uses human subjects in testing biological and chemical weapons.
United Nation's Security Council Resolution 1540 was passed in 2004 to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. It maintains the framework for assessment and conducting an annual review.