A new report says North Korea has the ability to manufacture as much as 12,000 metric tons of chemical warfare materials, which could kill or injure large numbers of civilians if used against South Korea, Agence France-Presse reported today (see GSN, June 18).
In addition to the North's evolving nuclear abilities, the country's chemical arsenal the South's most pressing security concern, according to Korea Institute for Defense Analyses issue expert Kwon Yang-joo.
"The international community must show its strong will in seeking disarmament of North Korea's chemical weapons along with its denuclearization," Kwon wrote.
The North Korean military is thought to possess one of the world's largest chemical weapons stockpiles. The Stalinist state is believed to hold between 2,500 and 5,000 metric tons of toxic chemical agents including phosgene, hydrogen cyanide, mustard blister agent and sarin nerve agent. Pyongyang has refused to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.
About 5,000 metric tons of chemical warfare material would be required to poison a 950-square-mile area, according to Kwon. If North Korea employed its full chemical arsenal, it could manufacture between 625,000 and 1.25 million chemical munitions, he stated.
The North could deliver its warfare materials using airplanes, artillery or missiles, Kwon said (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Oct. 13).