The biological warfare boom and the world’s impending doom.
Biological weapons are disease-producing agents that can be used as weapons of mass death against humans, animals or even plants. They can be delivered in many ways, from aerosols to bombs. Although they are less expensive to manufacture than nuclear warfare, they also have great disadvantages because they are difficult to control and there is a risk of a pandemic. These are some of the reasons why most countries seek to ban them altogether. However, the strategic advantage it provides leads some countries to pursue their research in secret and disguise it easily as vaccine plants and pharmaceutical centers. We’ve come a long way from when the Mongols threw plague-infested bodies over the wall into the sea port of Caffa. However, the current illicit state of biological warfare R&D is scarier than ever.
The shroud of mystery surrounding North Korea and the highly controlled sharing of information only piques interest and prompts more investigation. The latest and most worrying theory is that the socialist Democratic Republic of Korea (as it calls itself) is developing a biological weapons program in Pyongyang along with its already alarming nuclear program. The state research center in Pyongyang is run by the North Korean army and there are photos from 2015 which show that the Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader, has visited the center himself, which merits suspicion.
Quite in line with your standard sci-fi movie plot, the speculations are that they are producing different diseases and several manmade bio-weapons like the plague, anthrax, viral hemorrhagic fevers and smallpox. US officials say that there is no hard evidence that there is actual production of weapons, beyond samples and prototypes. However, it can be said for sure that there has been research and they have the materials. The only remaining step is to produce weapons. It is so well cloaked that the production will be within innocent civilian agricultural and pharmaceutical industries.
In 2015, Kim Jong-un gave the world a hint about bio weaponry plans, as a possible retaliation to the Pentagon’s admission that they shipped US-made live anthrax bacteria to South Korea. The leader commanded a media crew to go inside Pyongyang Biotechnical Institute and showed it off as a facility to produce pesticides. However, the rest of the world saw that the lab had possession of huge equipment that has the capacity to grow live microbes. Many of these were actually banned by international sanctions because of the fear that North Korea would use it in a bioweapons program. Kim Jong-un, wearing a white lab coat and showing off the instruments with a look of pride, instilled fear in the hearts of many a military planner and politician.
Several North Korean defectors and their testimonies give us reason to believe that these programs began in the 1960s, shortly after the Korean War which killed thousands through the outbreak of smallpox, cholera and typhoid. The regime attributed these deaths to biological attacks by the US. North Korea accusing the United States for biological weaponry is not new. They have accused the US of spreading the Ebola virus, and have said that it was developed in their bio warfare labs in Africa (based on information from an aide to ex-President Reagan). They further claimed that the US have already developed an anti-Ebola vaccine, but haven’t announced it to the world, to preserve their own interests.
Most military planners and intelligence agencies agree that Kim Jong-un is holding his bioweapons card under wraps until his research centers and scientists build up the capacity to create large quantities of pathogens quickly and other large-scale weapons. One proposed solution is to start “dual-response programs” that can help protect against warfare and natural biological threats. As the threat increases, the world needs to move quickly and take steps to prevent and deal with the eventuality of a full-blown biological war.
- Journal, The Asia Pacific. “Unit 731 and the Japanese Imperial Army’s Biological Warfare Program – The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus”
- Kim, Hyun-Kyung et al. “North Korea’s Biological Weapons Program: The Known and Unknown”. Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs.
Author: Gopika Kumaran