A North Korean soldier who defected to the South this year was reportedly found to have antibodies to anthrax — stoking concerns the regime of Kim Jong Un has weaponized the deadly bacteria.
According to UPI, South Korean authorities told local news network Channel A the unidentified soldier — one of four who have defected to the South in 2017— was either exposed to the bacteria or was vaccinated against it.
The disease can kill at least 80 percent of those who are exposed to the bacterium in 24 hours, unless antibiotics are taken or vaccination is available; South Korea's military is not expected to have an anthrax vaccine available until the end of 2019, UPI reported.
North Korea has been suspected of developing biological weapons after the regime publicized the works of the Pyongyang Biological Technology Research Institute in 2015, run by the Korean People's Army Unit 810, UPI reported.
Pyongyang claimed the facility specializes in pesticide research, but analysts say equipment at the site suggests biological weapons are being manufactured, UPI reported.
Japan's Asahi paper also recently reported North Korea – which has demonstrated the capability of theoretically striking the U.S. mainland with its missiles — had begun to test loading anthrax onto them.
And the White House pointed to the dangers North Korea poses besides its nuclear weapons program in the National Security Strategy released last week, International Business Times noted.
"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 stated. "[North Korea is] pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile."
North Korea angrily denied the U.S. charge, the U.K.-based Independent reported last week.
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