A troubling report from Japan on North Korean missile pursuits and plans says that Kim Jong-un does not just want an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting America; he wants missiles equipped with anthrax.
A correspondent for the Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun, citing an intelligence source in South Korea, reported Wednesday that North Korea is exploring if its missiles can carry the deadly bacteria anthrax.
The report, which noted that the U.S. is aware that North Korea has been seeking “nuclear, chemical and biological weapons,” said that Kim Jong-un’s regime wants to know if anthrax can survive the heat of an inter-continental missile trip.
“The source in South Korea said Pyongyang is conducting heat and pressure resistance tests to see whether anthrax germs can survive at temperatures of 7,000 degrees or higher, the level an ICBM encounters when it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere,” Asahi reported.
One interesting nugget in the report on top of this is that the U.S. and its ally South Korea appear to have known about this since 2004, as the nations have vaccinated soldiers against anthrax since then.
North Korea has in recent days threatened that if United States continues to conduct joint military operations with South Korea “nuclear war [may break out] at any moment,” Sky News reported.
Quoting an unnamed spokesman from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (CPRC and DPRK, respectively), state-run North Korean source KCNA referred to the U.S. and South Korean military might as “puppet forces” and warned that the planned Dec. 4. aerial drill is a “war rehearsal [that] is just a grave military provocation.”
The article notably said President Donald Trump is “running wild,” “insane” and “bluffing” when condemning inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.
The U.S. and South Korea proceeded with those drills anyway.
The North Korean ICBM test that attracted the most attention in November was dubbed Hwasong 15 (“Mars”), and the missile flew as high as 2,800 miles and traveled for 50 minutes, according to ABC News.
The most recent North Korean offense that’s made headlines, however, was that the rogue nation was behind the WannaCry cyberattack, which affected hundreds of thousands of computers last summer.
The Trump administration vowed Tuesday that North Korea would be held accountable for a May cyberattack that affected 150 countries, but it didn’t say how, highlighting the difficulty of punishing a pariah nation already sanctioned to the hilt for its nuclear weapons program.
The WannaCry ransomware attack infected computers worldwide and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service. It was the highest-profile cyberattack North Korea has been blamed for since the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures after it produced “The Interview,” a satirical movie imagining a CIA plot to kill leader Kim Jong Un.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.