PYONGYANG, June 2. /TASS/. North Korea (DPRK) has sharply criticised the United States for US secret shipping of live anthrax germs into the territory of the Korean Peninsula. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a statement by a representative of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, saying that it is "an unforgivable crime" against the Korean people.
This incident proves that Washington is preparing to systematically destroy North Korea's people through biological warfare, the official said. The Committee representative also condemned South Korean authorities for concealing the accident and the lack of a proper reaction on their part. The South Korea government announced previously that this dangerous incident was not a violation of the agreement on the status of the US military contingent in the country.
The US Department of Defense (DOD) announced on 27 May that it had accidentally shipped live anthrax spores to labs in nine US states and a US military base in South Korea. The facilities that received the samples did not have systems in place to protect lab employees against anthrax exposure because they were expecting to receive spores that had been killed with radiation. It is not clear how many people were actually exposed. The DOD says that 22 people in South Korea are getting preventive treatment, but it has not confirmed how many people in the United States are being treated.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, which regulates all research on a set of dangerous pathogens called select agents, is working with the DOD to investigate how the incident occurred. In an extraordinary admission, the Pentagon revealed what it called an "inadvertent transfer of samples containing live Bacillus anthracis", or anthrax, took place at an unspecified time from a US Defense Department laboratory in Dugway, Utah.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, as part of efforts to strengthen their alliance, South Korea and the United States have been conducting the Able Response Exercise (AR) to counter biological warfare threats since 2011. Seoul’s defence ministry said the two countries are seeking to create a task force designed to deal with biological threats and pursue cooperative projects based on the results of the AR. By the end of this year, Seoul and Washington also plan to set up a joint surveillance portal for biological weapons, under which information on various types of contagious and endemic diseases will be uploaded.