New York Post

Fears of NoKo anthrax weapon

- By YARON STEINBUCH

A North Korean soldier who defected to the South was found to have antibodies to anthrax — triggering concerns the rogue regime has weaponized the deadly bacteria.

The man, who was either exposed to or vaccinated for anthrax, had developed immunity to the disease before defecting, UPI reported on Tuesday, citing local television station Channel A.

A South Korean intelligen­ce official who spoke on condition of anonymity did not say which of four soldiers who fled the hermit kingdom this year had the antibodies.

The discovery is causing concern in Seoul because the disease can kill at least 80 percent of those who are exposed to the bacterium within 24 hours, un- less antibiotic­s are taken or a vaccinatio­n is available.

But the South Korean military has yet to procure an anthrax vaccine.

Defense Ministry spokeswoma­n Choi Hyunsoo has said an anthrax “vaccine is expected to be developed by the end of 2019.”

North Korea has been suspected of developing biological weapons after publicizin­g the works of the Pyongyang Biological Technology Research Institute, which is run by the Korean People’s Army.

Pyongyang claimed the facility specialize­s in pesticide research, but analysts have said its dual-use equipment suggests biological weapons are being manufactur­ed.

Seoul believes North Korea has a chemicalwe­apons stockpile of up to 5,000 tons and can produce biological-warfare agents, such as anthrax and smallpox, according to Bloomberg News.

Last week, President Trump pointed to the dangers posed by North Korea when he presented his National Security Strategy.

“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 said.

“[North Korea is] pursuing chemical and biological weapons, which could also be delivered by missile.”

One North Korean soldier who was shot while crossing the border in November had multiple health issues, including parasites, Hepatitis B and latent or inactive tuberculos­is.

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