Go to contents

[Editorial] The World`s Attention on North Korea`s Biochemical Weapons

[Editorial] The World`s Attention on North Korea`s Biochemical Weapons

Posted November. 21, 2001 09:09,   


At the international conference on the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which opened in Switzerland two day ago, John Bolton, U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, disclosed that North Korea is violating the BWC that prohibits development, production, and storage of biological and viral weapons. "North Korea has the capacity to manufacture biological agents in sufficient amounts for military purposes in case an order is issued." said Bolton. For South Koreans who are in contact with the North, the announcement certainly comes as a clarion call.

On November 19 at the National Assembly, Minister of National Defense Kim Dong-Shin said, "North Korea has the capacity to wage biochemical warfare with 2500 – 5000t of chemical weapons, and has the ability to cultivate anthrax, smallpox, and other viruses if needed." Considering that the inside circle of the present administration has avoided direct statements on North Korea`s military power, Minister Kim`s statement is exceptional.

Although we usually do not remember this fact, we are constantly vulnerable to attack from the North. Leaving aside the huge amount of conventional weapons at its disposal, North Korea has the capacity to manufacture weapons of mass destruction and is reported to be number three in the world for manufacturing and maintaining biochemical weapons. When the Jeju Islands are only a stone throw away from the North, one does not even want to think about North Korea using biochemical weapons on top of its massive supply of scud missiles.

Despite these facts, the current administration has avoided approaching the issue North Korean military strength. It fears that pushing this issue will damage the process of reconciliation between South and North. We, however, feel that the well-being of the people and safety of the nation are the nation`s top priorities and that the administration`s position is fundamentally flawed.

Even at this point in time, the administration has to raise forthrightly the issue of North Korean military power and biochemical weapons. Although the administration says that it will discuss military issues with North Korea after the tensions have eased in the peninsula, when that will be is unknowable and the threat of biochemical weapons from the North will continue. Insofar as the George W. Bush administration has stated its intention to put the issue of conventional weapons on the agenda in the NK-U.S. dialogue, the situation may affect the progress of mutual cooperation between South Korea and the U.S.

Above all, North Korea must abide by the BWC and abolish all biochemical weapons and production facilities. The U.S. has proposed a stricter inspection plan for regions suspected of having biochemical weapons in the recent BWC conference. If North Korea displays a positive attitude to this, it will be received as another affirmative signal after NK`s stated intention to join the anti-terrorist agreement.