The nation of South Korea has been quietly preparing its population for a future North Korean bio-terror attack. Based on recent news and events, it is highly likely that North Korea will attack South Korea with a bio-terror agent possibly causing a pandemic in the region.
Date: January 8, 2003
Abstract: The United States has some serious holes in its defenses against the kind of biological weapons the military assumes Iraq has, the Army's top biological defense expert said Wednesday.
The Pentagon has few or no vaccines or treatments for several biological weapons Iraq has acknowledged producing, such as botulinum toxin, said Col. Erik Henchal, head of the Army's biological defense laboratory. Other holes in the military's biological defenses include the lack of good vaccines or treatments for plague, various viruses which cause the brain inflammation called encephalitis and bacterial poisons called staphlococcal enterotoxins, Henchal said.
"We're trying to fill those holes as best we can," said Henchal, who directs the Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID.
For example, the Army lab has developed vaccine-like preventative treatments for the seven forms of deadly botulinum poison but hasn't had the money to get them into full-scale production, he said.
"We've been fairly helpless, except to say we hope someone's paying attention," Henchal told a group of reporters.
"Until 9-11, it was difficult to get the pharmaceutical industry interested in our products. We have 20 medical products on the goal line, waiting to go."
Military officials assume Iraq has biological weapons including the smallpox virus, and Iraq can produce novel germ weapons such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Henchal said.
He said the Army is sending its only mobile biological testing unit to the Persian Gulf this week. The Maryland-based unit does rapid testing to help confirm an attack with germ weapons.
U.S. military intelligence officials say biological weapons are one of Iraq's few major threats to American forces should President Bush decide to go to war. The Pentagon assumes Saddam has the missiles, aircraft and other gear needed to launch a biological attack against either military or civilian targets in the region.
Anthrax is the military's top biological weapon worry, since it's a common, hardy bacterium that's relatively easy to make into a deadly weapon, Henchal said. But countries like Iraq might be reluctant to use anthrax against U.S. troops because American soldiers are immunized against anthrax and have the antibiotics needed to treat anthrax illness, he said.
That makes botulinum toxins a big worry.
The U.S. military has some botulinum toxoids, which are inactivated forms of the poisons which work like vaccines to prevent the poisons' deadly effects. But those toxoids are losing potency, Henchal said. USAMRIID hopes to have vaccines against two botulinum toxins in production by the end of the year, he said.
The U.S. military assumes that North Korea, as well as Iraq, has samples of the smallpox virus, and it's possible the two countries have exchanged information on that and other biological weapons, Henchal said. He said "it's a bit of a fantasy" to assume that the only smallpox samples in the world are the two publicly declared samples in the United States and Russia.
"It's clear from
intelligence that the genie is out of the bottle," Henchal said of
smallpox (UCLA, 2003).
Title: USA, South Korea Military Exercise Begins With New Twist
Date: August 19, 2009
Source: Yahoo News
Abstract: According to U.S. Forces Command Korea, U.S. and South Korea's annual military exercise, a computerized war-game "defense of South Korea" simulation, called Ulchi Focus Guardian, has begun and will last from August 17-27, 2009. The joint operation is in preparation to hand over the lead wartime operational command to South Korea by 2012.
In a news release, U.S. Forces Command stated, "Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2009 is an excellent opportunity for this command to assess our mission essential tasks and force protection posture in a combined forces theater-level command post exercise."
This year's exercise will be only the second time that South Korea is in the lead role with U.S. forces in support. The lead operational commands will officially transfer control from the U.S. to South Korea by 2012. U.S. Forces will still be fully involved in a support role and the transfer is not expected to affect the number of U.S. forces in Korea.
Defense of South Korea is the goal of the simulated exercise and it has always been defensive in nature. The Korea Times reports that according to an official from South Korea's Joint Chief of Staff, "In the upcoming exercise , troops from the Combined Forces Command (CFC) will end their counterattacks in Gaeseong, before reaching Pyongyang. Previously, CFC troops often advanced into Pyongyang or the Amnokgang (Yalu River) in their simulated training exercises."
The United Nations Command Korea notified North Korea of the upcoming exercise and its defensive nature. The move to scale back the extent of the exercise may be a move to appease the North Korean regime after a recent series of tensions on the Korean peninsula. According to the Korea Times, leaders in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital city, have still aggressively spoken out against the exercise. North Korean leaders stated it as an "exercise for nuclear war" and threatened to retaliate with "ruthless and exterminatory attacks."
In this year's exercise, 56,000 South Korean forces and 10,000 American forces will participate in a computerized war game. Ulchi Freedom Guardian includes drills to defend South Korea from North Korea's cyber and terrorist attacks of bombs, chemical warfare, and biological and radioactive weapons. The U.S. Forces will comprise of those stationed in South Korea and other forces that travel to South Korea just for the exercise.
The exercise used to be called Ulchi Focus Lens and has been conducted since 1954; a year after the armistice ending the Korean War was signed. The intent of the exercise has always been defensive in nature (Yahoo News, 2009).
Title: South Korea Begins Anti-Chemical Weapons Training
Date: May 13, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: The Yonhap News has reported that South Korea this week began its annual anti-chemical weapons training program event in conjunction with several other Asian nations.
The program, which is the only one of its kind in Asia according to South Korea’s Ministry of Defense, will train officials from 18 Asian countries in methods for dealing with certain terrorism scenarios, including CBRN attacks, according to Yonhap News.
South Korea began first began offering the course to officials annually in 2005. The courses are jointly conducted by South Korean officials and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Yonhap News reports.
Twenty-three officials from 18 countries will attend the training program. Yonhap News says that the nations of Jordan, Malaysia and Uzbekistan will be represented as well as others.
The training program will offer courses in dealing with attacks involving chemical weapons, methods for detecting chemical warfare agents and decontaminating chemical warfare agents, Yonhap News reports.
South Korea has become all too familiar with dealing with chemical weapons threats in recent times. Neighboring North Korea is believed to have a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, and has pursued nuclear weaponry, Yonhap News reports. North Korea has not yet signed an anti-chemical weapons pact either (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: South Korea Prepares For Bioattack
Date: June 16, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Tensions continued to mount Tuesday between North and South Korea when a nationwide civil defense drill was held in South Korea.
The defense drill was the first nationwide drill since 1989 aimed at handling possible chemical, biological and radiological attacks, officials with the National Emergency Management Agency told the Associated Press.
Both North and South Korea have exchanged hostile words since the recent sinking of a South Korean warship. However, Seoul officials told the AP they do not believe the renewed hostilities will lead to all-out war.
“Now, North Korea is maintaining a considerably strengthened vigilance posture and as you know it’s been issuing many threats and statements through various channels,” South Korean Defense Minster Kim Tae-young told the National Assembly on Tuesday, the AP reports. “But there have been no serious military activities at the border and in rear areas.”
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council on Mondaythat it was “gravely concerned” about further hostilities and encouraged both sides not to engage in any hostile acts.
South Korea has taken punitive measures against North Korea, including trade restrictions, since the warship Cheonan was sunk in March, killing 46 sailors.
North Korea has denied sinking the warship and has warned that retaliation would trigger war, the AP reports.
“We are just a victim,” Pak Tok Hun, North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador, told reporters “So we’d like to make our position clear.”
North and South Korea are still
technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a
peace treaty, according to the AP report (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: Anti-Terror Exercise Held In Seoul
Date: August 18, 2010
Source: Sina news
Abstract: An anti-terror exercise against chemical weapon attacks is held at the Coex in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 18, 2010. The exercise was part of the ongoing South Korea-U.S. joint military drills codenamed "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" (Sina News, 2010).
Title: South Korea Discusses Bioterror Response Plan
Date: October 13, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: While meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, South Korea’s defense minister, Kim Tae-Young, discussed the country’s reaction to a potential North Korean attack using biological weapons.
Kim addressed the issue of weapons of mass destruction to reporters covering the two-day 42nd annual security meeting of the U.S. and South Korea's defense officials, GovExec.com reported.
“We are currently in the process of coordinating the details of immediate response in the case of a biological threat from North Korea,” Kim said, according to GovExec.com. "We cannot eliminate the possibility of a situation of instability in North Korea that would influence the security of both [U.S and South Korean] governments. It is the responsibility of both governments to prepare for all possible contingencies."
Gates was adamant about the U.S. response.
“North Korea’s provocations and aggressions will not be tolerated,” Gates said, according to the GovExec.com report.
The bilateral meeting took place shortly after reports from North Korea on Friday confirmed that Kim Jong-Il will be succeeded by one of his three sons, Kim Jong-Un.
"We cannot eliminate the possibility of a situation of instability in North Korea that would influence the security of both [U.S and South Korean] governments," Kim said, GovExec.com reports. "It is the responsibility of both governments to prepare for all possible contingencies (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: South Korea Runs CBRN Drills
Date: December 17, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: In Paju, South Korea, dozens of residents recently evacuated to underground parking lots and wore gas masks as part of a mass evacuation drill against chemical, biological and radiological attacks from nearby North Korea.
Rescue workers in Paju also conducted casualty simulation drills, bringing wounded residents pretending to be infected with chemical agents to local hospitals, according to WXYZ.com.
The drills came alongside new diplomatic pressure from the United States and regional powers towards North Korea. New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson was scheduled to stop in China on his way to North Korea this week. He has acted as a diplomatic troubleshooter with the rogue nation and has made several visits in the past.
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, China’s lead foreign policy official, recently returned from North Korea and is scheduled to hold talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in Beijing, WXYZ.com reports. China is being pressured by the United States to try to get North Korea to abandon its dangerous behavior.
Meanwhile, evacuation drills are being held across South Korea in the wake of the North Korean shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, a disputed island near the border. In the artillery duel that followed, four South Koreans were killed. Casualties in the north are unknown.
In Seoul, residents stopped their cars and ran to underground shelters in the country’s largest ever evacuation drill, ending any previous indifference South Koreans may have had about a potential attack by Pyongyang.
"We will need these
evacuation plans and skills sooner or later in case war breaks out, and I think
war can happen any time," Han Yoo-jin said, according to WXYZ.com (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: South Korea Claims North Korea Possesses Mass Chemical, Biological
Date: December 31, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: In a recently published defense white paper, South Korea claimed that North Korea is in possession of and continues to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
According to the white paper, North Korea has 2,500 to 5,000 tons of various chemical weapons and has extracted approximately 40 kilograms of plutonium by reprocessing spent fuel rods from a 5 MW nuclear reactor it has run since the 1980s.
Additionally, according to the paper’s details as reported by English.Chosun.com, the North has increased the number of its special forces troops by 20,000 over the past two years, reaching a total of approximately 200,000, mostly deployed in a light infantry division under an Army Corps that is stationed near the frontline. A light infantry regiment has also been added to an Army division nearby.
The force of 200,000 is reportedly ready to carry out combined operations aimed at attacking major South Korean facilities, assassinating important people and infiltrating the South by using a network of underground tunnels.
A 2006 defense white paper estimated the North’s special forces to number approximately 120,000. By 2008, that number had increased to 160,000, English.Chosun.com reports. Currently, they account for 17 percent of the total number of North Korea’s 1.19 million soldiers (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: South Korea, U.S. Armies Demonstrate Bioweapons Response
Date: March 3, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: South Korean and U.S. soldiers participated in a training exercise this week that simulated the detection and disposal of North Korean chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons as part of military exercises between the two countries.
North Korea has described these exercises as a rehearsal for invasion while Seoul and Washington say that the simulations are purely for defensive reasons, the AFP reports. The U.S. has had a military alliance with South Korea dating back to the Korean War.
“North Koreans have threatened to use weapons of mass destruction,” Brigadier-General Chuck Taylor said, according to AFP. “This exercise helps us to deter based upon our readiness, and if deterrence fails, to help prevail in any kind of threats and environment.”
An expert estimation believes that Pyongyang, North Korea, may have enough plutonium to build six to eight small atomic weapons, though they are unsure if it is capable of mounting these atomic warheads on missiles, according to the AFP.
According to estimates by South Korea’s defense ministry, North Korea has an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, which might consist of mustard gas, blood agents, nerve agents and phosgene, among others. They are also suspected to have biological weapons capability.
The annual drills, known as the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle
drills, started on Monday and involve 12,300 U.S. troops and close to 200,000
South Korean service members, including reserves (Bio
Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: South Korea, U.S. Plan Bioterror Exercise
Date: May 27, 2011
Abstract: High-level South Korean and U.S. defense officials this week held talks on conducting a drill on dealing with a biological terrorism threat, the Yonhap News Agency reported (see GSN, March 3).
This would be the two nations' first exercise focused exclusively on a biological danger.
The idea was discussed during "Able Response 2011," three days of meetings in Seoul with officials including Andrew Weber, assistant to the secretary of Defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs.
"In the wake of this week's discussions, South Korea and the U.S. plan to develop ways to hold a joint exercise against bioterrorism," said South Korean Defense Ministry official Yang Young-mo.He said the talks are not an indicator of a rising danger of a North Korean biological strike. Pyongyang is believed to operate a biological weapons program (Yonhap News Agency, May 26) (NTI, 2011).
Title: U.S. And South Korea Begin Discussing Bioterrorism Exercise
Date: May 31, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Military officers from the United States and South Korea recently held discussions regarding participation in the first-ever joint exercise aimed at testing their ability to cope with bioterrorist activities.
Despite holding annual exercises aimed against a possible invasion by North Korean forces, the two countries have never conducted a joint exercise solely for the purposes of dealing with the threat of bioterrorism, according to YonhapNews.co.kr.
The three day discussions, called Able Response 2011, began last week among senior defense officials from the two nations, including Andrew Weber, the U.S. assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs.
"In the wake of this week's discussions, South Korea and the U.S. plan to develop ways to hold a joint exercise against bioterrorism," Yang Young-mo, a senior official at Seoul's defense ministry, said, according to YonhapNews.co.kr.
The move, according to Yang, does not indicate that the United States and South Korea believe the bioterrorism threat posed by North Korea is growing. The two nations agreed to hold the discussions last year.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula remain high following two North Korean attacks against South Korea last year, when a total of 50 South Koreans were killed, including two civilians (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: U.S., South Korea To Practice Detection Of
Date: August 8, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: The United States and South Korea will form a joint taskforce to practice the detection and elimination of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction during an annual joint military exercise later this month.
The allied forces will use computer simulations to find the hidden locations of WMDs, including missiles, nuclear warheads, and biological and chemical weapons, and then dispose of them, the Korea Herald reports. The taskforce would then be sent to a certain area where they would participate in a WMD elimination exercise.
“The allies will form the joint taskforce and conduct virtual and actual drills during the Ulchi Freedom Guardian scheduled to take place from Aug. 16-29,” a South Korean official told local media, according to the Korea Herald.
The U.S. Army will send the 20th Support Command while the South Korean Army will dispatch troops that specialize in handling WMDs.
Since it was established in October 2004, the 20th Support Command, based out of Maryland, has been involved in a series of WMD removal operations in conflict zones like Iraq.
Some military observers have claimed that South Korea should prepare itself to conduct WMD elimination operations as it attempts to take steps to retake wartime operational control from the U.S. in December 2015.
“In case of an emergency on the peninsula, the troops from the U.S. 20th Support Command could come late or could not be deployed here for some unexpected reason," a military official said, according to the Korea Herald. "So, there appears to be the need for us to establish our own unit, possibly a brigade-level one."
According to a South
Korean defense white paper published in December, North Korea has 2,500 to
5,000 tons of chemical weapons. North Korea is also presumed to have obtained
around 40 kilograms of plutonium after reprocessing spent fuel rods four times (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: South Korea, U.S. Prepare For WMD Exercise
Date: August 8, 2011
Abstract: South Korean and U.S. military personnel are scheduled this month to conduct exercises on locating and destroying North Korean unconventional weapons systems, the Korea Herald reported on Sunday (see GSN, July 20).
“The allies will form the joint task force and conduct virtual and actual drills during the Ulchi Freedom Guardian scheduled to take place from Aug. 16-29,” an unidentified government source said to local news organizations.
A total of 350 troops from both nations appear set to conduct the exercises at an unidentified location. Participants will include South Korean personnel with counter-WMD expertise and the U.S. Army's 20th Support Command, whose members are also trained to deal with biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons.
North Korea is believed to hold enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons and operates an aggressive missile development program. The regime last year also unveiled a uranium enrichment plant that could give it a second route for producing nuclear-weapon material (see GSN, Aug. 5). A 2010 South Korean defense white paper estimated that the North possesses between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical warfare materials (see GSN, Oct. 13, 2010).
There are concerns about what might happen to WMD materials during a crisis such as the collapse of the North Korean government.
Certain defense specialists argue that South Korea needs to be ready to deal with its neighbor's unconventional arms without support from the United States, according to the newspaper.
"In case of an emergency on the peninsula, the troops from the U.S. 20th Support Command could come late or could not be deployed here for some unexpected reason. So, there appears to be the need for us to establish our own unit, possibly a brigade-level one,” according to one military source (Song Sang-ho, Korea Herald, Aug. 7).
Pyongyang on Monday warned Seoul and Washington against carrying out the large-scale Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill, which it characterized as "nuclear war maneuvers" aimed at readying the allies for "a war of aggression" against the North, Agence France-Presse reported.
South Korea and the United States "should show their willingness to denuclearize the peninsula in the eyes of the world by canceling the projected nuclear war exercises," the regime said in a statement to state media.
The North typically lashes out at any U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which the allies assert are not aimed at preparing for invasion.
Calling off the drill would be "a bold policy decision" in support of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, according to Pyongyang. It said such a process must eliminate nuclear threats to North Korea.
"If the other party launches a nuclear war, the D.P.R.K. (North Korea) is ready to counter it with nukes. It is its solemn declaration," the North said (Agence France-Presse/ChannelNewsAsia.com, Aug. 8).
The warning followed recent meetings between senior North Korean diplomats and representatives from the South Korean and U.S. governments. Discussions focused on opportunities on resuming the long-frozen six-nation talks on North Korean denuclearization.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan met over two days with U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth near the end of July in New York City. Kim then flew to Beijing, where he is believed to have discussed the U.S. visit with top diplomatic officials before returning to Pyongyang on Friday, Kyodo News reported (Kyodo News/Breitbart.com, Aug. 5).
A South Korean official said the North could undertake a number of measures to promote resumption of the negotiations that involve China, Japan, Russia, the United States and both Koreas, the Korea Times reported.
Among options that have been raised recently by experts are Pyongyang's voluntary suspension of nuclear and missile trials or the transfer of its fresh fuel rods to another nation.
"Those measures are possibilities," the official said. "We are very open to considering different options. "When North Korea takes measures to show sincerity for denuclearization, then we can go on to six-party talks and negotiate a grand bargain."
The grand bargain refers to a singular infusion of large amounts of assistance and security pledges in exchange for total North Korean denuclearization.
North Korea could also itself or with the other six-party states issue a statement regarding its readiness to undertake a nuclear shutdown, according to the official.
There are still widespread doubts that the North would ever relinquish its nuclear operations, which serve as the nation's main lever in dealing with other nations. Seoul and Washington have also said they would not rush into resumed nuclear negotiations with their longtime antagonist (Kim Young-jin, Korea Times, Aug. 7).
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and top nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac on Sunday headed for Russia, Agence France-Presse reported. During a four-day visit Kim is due to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for talks on the North Korean nuclear standoff and other matters (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Aug. 7) (NTI, 2011).
Title: South Korea’s Smallpox Vaccine Stockpile Spoils
Date: September 8, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Approximately one million doses of smallpox vaccine out of South Korea’s stockpile of seven million have reportedly spoiled.
The doses, for use in case of a biological attack from North Korea, were recently found unfit for use and will have to be destroyed, according to Chosun.com.
The spoiled doses were produced by South Korean domestic pharmaceutical companies in 2009 and have yet to reach their expiration date. Another 4.59 million doses purchased from 2003 and 2008 have reached their expiration date but are currently not being eliminated from the stockpile.
According to data from the Korea Food and Drug Administration that was recently released by Lee Jae-Sun, a lawmaker from the Liberty Forward Party, a series of animal tests conducted on the doses produced in 2009 failed.
All of the guinea pigs used in the toxicity tests died after being injected with doses from the batch, Chosun.com reports. The KFDA said the high toxicity of the batch has made the doses unfit for human use and they have asked the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to destroy them.
Seoul acquired 980,000 doses of antibiotics to treat bubonic plague in 2001. They were destroyed after passing their expiration date and have yet to be replaced, according to KoreaHerald.com (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: Expert Details Joint U.S.-South Korea Bioattack
Date: September 19, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Kim Hak-song of the Grand National Party said that the anti-biological war drill was held at the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command and the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses on May 17 through May 27 and was attended by senior officials from both countries' related agencies, the Korea Herald reports.
The exercise was presided over by the U.S., which tried to warn Seoul of Pyongyang's biological weapons, which pose threats to peace in Northeast Asia, Kim said. According to Kim, Seoul opposed the exercise, citing public anxiety and negative economic impact.
The drill was aimed at coping with North Korea's asymmetrical attacks with radiation leakage and biological weapons. North Korea is believed to have 13 types of weaponized stocks of biochemicals, including cholera, typhoid and anthrax.
Military and political heavyweights from both countries, including Gen. Walter Sharp, who was the then-commander of U.S. forces in Korea, participated in a seminar held at KIDA on the last day of the drill.
"South Korea found that it has been hardly prepared to counter North Korea's biological attacks," Kim said, according to the Korea Herald. "The defense ministry should come up with measures against biological warfare."
According to a study, a bomb containing one kilogram of anthrax could kill up to 11,000 people in a city that has a population density of 14,500 per square kilometer. Seoul's density rose to 17,240 per square kilometer in 2010 (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: S. Korean Military Vulnerable To N. Korea's Biological Attacks
Date: September 25, 2011
Source: Korean Times
Abstract: The military is vulnerable to North Korea's biological attacks, due to lack of adequate equipment, an opposition lawmaker insisted on Sunday.
Rep. Shin Hak-yong of the main opposition Democratic Party said that the military currently owns scores of anti-biological vehicles capable of detecting only four kinds of biological agents, though the North has 13 kinds of biological agents, including anthrax bacterium, smallpox virus and cholera.
The anti-biological military vehicles are antiquated, as they were introduced here ahead of the 2002 World Cup finals co-hosted with Japan, the lawmaker claimed.
He noted that the military has commissioned a local private firm to develop an advanced biological toxin detector capable of monitoring 10 kinds of biological agents in two minutes, but its deployment is scheduled for 2013 at the earliest.
Shin said the military is planning to deploy the new anti-biological detector at the nation's major airports, ports and military facilities.
"Our military's defense has been excessively focused on preparedness for North Korea's chemical attacks, rather than for its biological attacks," said Shin, calling for greater efforts to expand defense against biological warfare (Korean Times, 2011).
Title: South Korea Vulnerable To North Korean Bioattack
Date: September 27, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: South Korea remains particularly vulnerable to an attack by North Korea using biological weapons because of it lacks proper equipment, a South Korean opposition lawmaker recently declared.
Democratic Party Rep. Shin Hak-yong said that the South’s military currently uses vehicle-based biological weapons sensors that are only capable of detecting four kinds of biological agents, despite the fact that North Korea possesses at least 13 types of agents, according to YonhapNews.co.kr.
"We have particular concerns with the activities of North Korea…in the biological weapons context, but also because of their…support for terrorism and their lack of compliance with international obligations," Assistant Secretary of State John C. Rood said in 2009, PopularMechanics.com reports.
The lawmaker said that the vehicles are antiquated. They were originally introduced into service in 2002, ahead of the 2002 World Cup finals South Korea co-hosted with Japan.
Shin said that South Korean military planners have commissioned a local firm to produce a new type of biological weapons detector capable of identifying 10 types of agents in a span of two minutes, but it is not scheduled for deployment until 2013 at the earliest.
The military has plans to place the new sensors at major airports, ports and military facilities.
"Our military's defense has been excessively focused on preparedness for North Korea's chemical attacks, rather than for its biological attacks," Shin said, YonhapNews.co.kr reports (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: South Korea Developing Bioweapon Defenses
Date: October 10, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: According to South Korea's defense minister, the
country is researching and developing defensive measures against possible
biological and chemical attacks from North Korea.
During an annual parliamentary audit, Kim Kwan-jin, the country's defense minister, said that while South Korea does not yet have vaccines against those types of offenses, they will be put in place soon, Yonhap News Agency reports.
"Since the project costs a lot of money, we haven't settled on the exact date on when we can develop vaccines," Kim said, according to Yonhap News Agency. "But once they're developed, there should be no major problem."
Kim said that U.S. forces in Korea have vaccines against anthrax and that South Korean health authorities have similar vaccines and the capability of developing thier own vaccines.
Han Min-koo, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that U.S. troops and South Korea have engaged in joint identification and detection exercises and will cooperate with each other during contingencies. The defense ministry estimates that North Korea has up to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons and is capable of growing cholera, smallpox and anthrax.
Han addressed concerns that South Korea's Guided Weapons Defense Command may be vulnerable to missiles from North Korea, saying that the unit's armory and ammunition chamber will be well protected.
"Developments of mid-range surface-to-air missiles (M-SAM) and long-range surface-to-air missiles (L-SAM), which will be used in missile defense, have been included in the mid-term defense plans," Han said, according to Yonhap News Agency. "I think they may take five to 10 years to develop" (Bio Prep Watch).
Title: South Korea Conducts Biochemical Weapons Drill
Date: November 15, 2011
Abstract: South Korea's royal palace in Seoul is the backdrop for the country's monthly civil defense drill necessitated by ongoing tensions on the divided peninsula.
A warning siren sounds in the city center - signaling the start of the biochemical defense exercise.
About 20 military, police and fire vehicles are taking part alongside 200 soldiers, police officers, firefighters and palace employees.
Here, they tend to "victims" of a hypothetical North Korean biochemical attack involving toxic gases.
[Her Sung-Yun, National Emergency Management Agency]:
"This drill's aim is to enhance people's awareness in the event of an attack by North Korea's biochemical weapons, and to enhance defensive capabilities by the military, police and fire station personnel."
Tensions between North and South Korea have been high since 46 sailors were killed in an attack on a South Korean naval vessel last year - an incident for which the North has denied responsibility.
The two countries are still technically at war since the Korean War over 50 years ago ended with an armistice, but no peace treaty (NTD, 2011).
Title: U.S., South Korea Examine North Korean
Date: November 15, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Military officials from the U.S. and South Korea met
in operations centers over the past two weeks to examine in great detail how
they would respond to a biological or chemical attack from North Korea.
Many details of the computer-based Warpath III exercise are classified. The exercise gave 1,000 service members from eight South Korean and American brigades experience in how the alliance would react with the “full spectrum” of its equipment and manpower in the event the North made good on threats it has made over the years, Stars and Stripes reports.
“I think it would be irresponsible not to take that threat seriously," Lt. Col. Joe Scrocca, a 2ID spokesman said, according to Stars and Stripes. "If we don’t practice, we will not be ready if they use those weapons. We’re practicing for a real-world threat on the peninsula.”
While North Korea’s developing nuclear weapons program has made more headlines in recent years, those familiar with the North say its biological and chemical capabilities would be major elements of any all-out attack on the South. A 2007 Popular Mechanics investigative report stated that, according to South Korean intelligence agencies, defectors and other sources, North Korea has built “one of the world’s most extensive biochemical warfare programs,” according to Stars and Stripes.
In September, Shin Hak-yong, a South Korean lawmaker, called for greater efforts to expand the South's defense against potential biological warfare, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
“Our job is to be ready for whatever comes,” Scrocca said, Stars and Stripes reports. “We’re just about the only ones in the Army doing this full-spectrum-type stuff against all possible type threats. This is all computer-based … but we’re working on the strategies that would be used in a full spectrum of operations. We’re practicing the identification, detection and defense against chemical-biological weapons — How would we be able to detect (chemical-biological weapons)? What would happen once they are detected? How would we decontaminate soldiers and equipment if that happened?” (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: South Korea Seeks To Increase Bioweapon, WMD Defense
Date: February 13, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Military officials for the defense ministry of South Korea said on Thursday that the country plans to undergo restructuring in an effort to strengthen the military’s defense against cyber warfare and weapons of mass destruction.
Under the proposed changes, the ministry’s department of non-proliferation would be renamed the department of WMD response. Officials working in that department would form the country’s defense policy against potential WMD attacks from North Korea, providing the necessary guidelines for successful defense, Yonhap News Agency reports.
This newly-named department would also oversee nuclear policies, missile defense, response to chemical and biological weapons, and non-proliferation. Another change would see the information protection team renamed to the cyber protection policy team. This team would come up with a South Korean response to the cyber warfare threats of North Korea.
“North Korea has continuously developed missiles, nuclear weapons and chemical and biological weapons,” an official for the defense ministry said, according to Yonhap News Agency. “We’re also aware of actual cyber attacks by North Korea. We need to develop policies to actively respond to such instances, and to strengthen roles and functions for relevant departments, accordingly.”
Under the proposed change, the ministry would increase the number of civil servants employed there from 621 to 634 (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: South Korea Begins Military Drills Despite Threat
From North Korea
Date: February 20, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: South Korea conducted live-fire military drills near its disputed sea boundary with North Korea on Monday despite Pyongyang's threat to respond with a "merciless" attack -- a threat it did not immediately make good on.
Analysts said North Korea was unlikely to respond with more than words because it is focusing on internal stability two months after the death of leader Kim Jong Il. North Korea is also days away from its first nuclear disarmament talks with the U.S. since Kim's death.
Washington and North Korea's neighbors are closely watching how Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il's son and successor, navigates strained ties with rival South Korea and a long-running standoff over the country's nuclear weapons programs. In another potential point of tension, U.S. forces will be conducting annual military exercises with South Korea over the next few months.
South Korea's drills took place Monday in an area of the Yellow Sea that was the target of a North Korean artillery attack in 2010 that killed four South Koreans and raised fears of a wider conflict. North Korea didn't threaten similar South Korean firing drills in the area in January, but it called the latest exercise a "premeditated military provocation" and warned it would retaliate for an attack on its territory.
A North Korean officer said in an interview Sunday with an Associated Press staffer in Pyongyang that North Koreans would respond to any provocation with "merciless retaliatory strikes."
North Korea is fully prepared for a "total war," and the drills will lead to a "complete collapse" of ties between the Koreas, the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried Monday by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Such rhetoric has been typical of North Korean officials in the past.
Later Monday, South Korean troops on five islands near the disputed sea boundary fired artillery into waters southward, away from nearby North Korea, a Defense Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. South Korea reported no action by North Korea following the drills, which ended after about two hours.
North Korea's military maintained increased vigilance during Monday's drills, though Seoul saw nothing suspicious, a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officer said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
South Korean military officials said they were ready to repel any attack. Residents on the front-line islands were asked to go to underground shelters before the drills started, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Analysts said the threats allow Pyongyang to show its anger over what it sees as a violation of its territory, but that an immediate attack was unlikely during what is a a delicate time for inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korean relations, and for internal North Korean politics.
"South Korea's military would have immediately responded this time, and that's something that North Korea can't afford" during its transfer of power to Kim Jong Un, said Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor at Korea University in South Korea.
The North's threat appeared aimed at mustering internal support or could be the result of top military officers showing their loyalty to Kim Jong Un, Yoo said.
The North knows that raising tensions ahead of nuclear talks with the United States won't be advantageous, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.
The Korean Peninsula has been technically at war for about 60 years. The maritime line separating the countries was drawn by the U.S.-led U.N. Command without Pyongyang's consent at the close of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. North Korea routinely argues that the line should run farther south.
Relations between the Koreas plummeted following the 2010 shelling of front-line Yeonpyeong Island, seven miles (11 kilometers) from North Korean shores, and a deadly warship sinking blamed on Pyongyang. North Korea has flatly denied its involvement in the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.
Kim Jong Un's handling of North Korea's military and diplomacy will come into sharper focus in the next several weeks.
The United States and North Korea will have important nuclear disarmament talks Thursday -- the third round of bilateral talks since last summer and the first since Kim Jong Il's Dec. 17 death. They are aimed at restarting six-nation aid-for-disarmament negotiations on North Korea's nuclear program.
The North pulled out of those negotiations in early 2009 but has said it is willing to restart the six-party talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. But the U.S. and its allies are demanding that the North first demonstrate its sincerity in ending its nuclear weapons program.
Additionally, a series of military exercises between the United States and its ally Seoul will extend over more than two months. Seoul and Washington say their long-planned annual drills are defensive in nature, but North Korea calls them preparation for an invasion.
South Korea began joint anti-submarine drills Monday with the United States, but the training site is farther south from the disputed sea boundary, South Korean military officials said. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as what U.S. and South Korean officials call deterrence against North Korean aggression.
South Korean and U.S. troops will start 12 days of largely computer-simulated war games next week, and two months of field training drills in early March.
Early Monday, the powerful Political Bureau of the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party announced it would convene a special political conference in mid-April to "glorify" the late leader and to rally around his son.
The last time such a conference was held was in September 2010, when Kim Jong Un was named to a high-ranking party military post in the first public confirmation that he was being groomed to succeed his father.
The conference could wrap up the North's power succession process, analysts said, with Kim Jong Un possibly promoted to general secretary of the Workers' Party, the ruling party's top job and one of the country's highest positions (Fox News, 2012).
Title: South Korea Releases Bioterrorism Response Guidelines
Date: March 5, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: According to a ruling party lawmaker, the defense ministry of South Korea has dispensed guidelines for responding to alleged bioterrorism threats posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The defense ministry sent out the 130 page guidelines on the recommended responses to bioterrorism and the successive medical support to all military units. The guidelines are the first of their kind to be created by South Korea’s defense ministry, Xinhua reports.
The guidelines offer detailed explanation on 13 bioterrorism agents that the DPRK is believed to have large amounts of, including smallpox, plague and anthrax.
“There is an urgent need to develop additional vaccines against bioterrorism,” Song Young-sun, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, said, according to Xinhua.
The U.S. and South Korea have conducted joint drills since 2010 aimed at identifying, detecting and neutralizing biological and chemical weapons that the DPRK allegedly possesses.
“North Korea’s biological agents are
asymmetrical weapons that can cause overwhelming chaos and damage, and we need
to quickly develop additional vaccines,” Song Young-sun said, according to Yonhap News. “Under the new North
Korean leadership of Kim Jong-un, things could change suddenly on the
peninsula. We have to be fully prepared for bioterrorism and other sorts of
Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: South Korea Not Prepared For North Korea’s Bioweapons
Date: March 13, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: When compared with the biological warfare defenses of the United States, South Korea’s capabilities to deal with the smallpox virus fall well short despite North Korea’s biological weapons capacity.
In a defense white paper, the Ministry of National Defense said that North Korea has biological capabilities, including the ability to synthesize the smallpox virus. The United States sees South Korea as one of the most likely places to see a return of the deadly virus, the Korea Herald reports.
Smallpox is estimated to have killed more than 300 million people during the 20th century. The only treatment is to receive a vaccination within 72 hours of being infected.
While South Korea began stockpiling smallpox vaccines in 2002, tests showed that of the seven million doses, 1.06 million were unfit for use and 4.59 million doses had exceeded the recommended storage duration. The country has no other project for smallpox vaccine stockpiling in the future. In comparison, the U.S. smallpox vaccination program covers its entire population.
“As the Korean military’s
bio-chemical defense capabilities have been focused on chemical warfare,
preparations for biological warfare have been neglected,” Shin Hak-yong, a
representative with the Democratic Unity Party, said, according to the Korea Herald (Bio
Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: N. Korea Threatens War As Seoul Unveils Missile
Date: April 19, 2012
Abstract: North Korea demanded Thursday that South Korea apologise for what it called insults during major anniversary festivities, or face a "sacred war", as Seoul unveiled a new missile to deter its neighbour.
Regional tensions have risen since Pyongyang went ahead with a long-range rocket launch last Friday, defying international calls to desist.
The event was to have been a centrepiece of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary Sunday of the "Day of the Sun", the birthday of Kim Il-Sung who founded the communist nation and the dynasty which still rules it.
But the rocket, which the North said was designed to launch a satellite, disintegrated after some two minutes of flight.
"The puppet regime of traitors must apologise immediately for their grave crime of smearing our Day of Sun festivities," said a government statement on Pyongyang's official news agency.
Otherwise, it said, the North Korean people and military "will release their volcanic anger and stage a sacred war of retaliation to wipe out traitors on this land".
The North has several times demanded that the South apologise for perceived slights or face war since its longtime leader Kim Jong-Il died in December. Under his son and new leader Kim Jong-Un, it has struck a hostile tone with the South.
South Korea announced Thursday it has deployed new cruise missiles capable of destroying targets such as missile and nuclear bases anywhere in the North.
"With such capabilities, our military will sternly and thoroughly punish reckless provocations by North Korea while maintaining our firm readiness," Major General Shin Won-Sik told reporters.
Yonhap news agency said the new cruise missile could travel more than 1,000 kilometres (625 miles).
Cross-border tensions have been high since conservative President Lee Myung-Bak took office in Seoul in 2008 and scrapped a near-unconditional aid policy.
"If our power is strong, we can deter enemy provocations," Lee said Thursday, describing the North as "the world's most hostile force".
The North hit back at critical comments by Lee and by conservative media, which questioned the overall cost of the celebrations in a nation suffering acute food shortages.
Lee had said the estimated $850 million cost of the launch could have bought 2.5 million tons of corn.
"Traitor Lee Myung-Bak took the lead in vituperation during the festivities," said a joint statement by the North's government, party and social groups.
"This is an intolerable insult to our leader, system and people and a hideous provocation that sparked seething anger among the whole people."
The North said its only aim was to launch a peaceful satellite, but the United States and its allies said this was a flimsy excuse for a test by the nuclear-armed nation of ballistic missile technology.
On Monday the United Nations Security Council including Pyongyang's ally China strongly condemned the launch. Washington said it also breached a bilateral deal and suspended plans for food aid.
The North has warned of unspecified retaliation. Some experts believe it will conduct a new nuclear test or further long-range missile tests, while others predict a border clash with the South.
An unrepentant Pyongyang last Sunday displayed an apparently new medium-range missile at a parade featuring thousands of goose-stepping troops and almost 900 pieces of weaponry.
A leading defence journal said Thursday that UN officials are investigating whether China supplied technology for its launcher vehicle, in a possible breach of UN sanctions.
IHS Jane's Defence Weekly quoted a senior official close to a United Nations Security Council sanctions committee as saying that an associated panel of experts was "aware of the situation and will pursue enquiries".
IHS Janes's reported earlier that China appeared to have supplied either the design or the actual vehicle to the North.
It said the 16-wheel transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) is apparently based on a design from the 9th Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.
China said it had actively abided by UN resolutions while practising "strict export control of proliferation materials".
"China is always
against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the carrier
equipment for such weapons," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in
Title: U.S. And Korea To Hold Bio-Threat Simulation
Date: May 14, 2012
Abstract: The South Korean Ministry of National Defense announced on Friday that The United States and Korea will hold an anti-biological terrorism simulation this week.
The simulation, which is called the Able Response 12, will involve 50 U.S. and Korean government organizations, as well as 190 experts from fields related to the exercise. This represents the second time the simulation has been held, the Korea Herald reports.
Able Response 12 is meant to test the country’s ability to respond to biological threats that arise from terrorism in addition to biological threats that occur naturally like avian flu epidemics. The experts participating in the drill will look for ways to collaborate in improving the responsiveness to such incidents.
In March, a defense white paper released by the ministry said that South Korea does not have the capabilities to deal with biological weapons such as the smallpox virus. According to the paper, North Korea has biological capabilities including the ability to create the deadly virus.
“Anyone who has the intent and the capability can now create the smallpox virus, which is the most devastating disease we have ever seen,” Jacob Cohn, a representative of Danish vaccine maker Bavarian Nordic, said, according to the Korea Herald. “Here the risk (of a smallpox outbreak) is double, in the sense that you have a next door neighbor and you have the international community risk.”Most of the seven million doses the country has stockpiled against smallpox since 2002 were found in the paper to have exceeded the recommended storage duration or are unfit for use (BioPrepWatch, 2012).
Title: South Korea Introduces Plans To Respond To Bioterror Threat
Date: May 21, 2012
Abstract: South Korea’s public health and safety agency recently announced its intention to create a five year plan to better protect the country from possible bioterrorism attacks.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that its scheduled 2013-2017 plan will include extensive research and development into vaccines and antidotes, the quick detection and accurate diagnosis of bioterror agents, and the collection of related information through international cooperation, according to YonhapNews.co.kr.
The health and safety agency also said that the plan would utilize the latest in nano-biotech and advanced convergence technology in order to handle perceived threats and adequately stockpile effective medical countermeasures.
The KCDC also announced plans to authorize clinical testing for drugs to counter the effects of bioterror agents so they can be produced locally.
The agency announced that it hopes to continuously receive information from international experts so that it can push forward the research and development needed to protect the country and its people from potential bioterror attacks, YonhapNews.co.kr reports.
The government in Seoul responded by saying that it would enhance nationwide monitoring for bioterror agents by investing in the development of detection kit technology.
South Korea recently participated in an exercise with the United States aimed at assessing their capacity to jointly respond to an intentional or natural disease outbreak (BioPrepWatch, 2012).
Title: South Korean Soldiers Participate In CBRN Training
Date: May 29, 2012
Abstract: Soldiers from South Korea’s 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command took part in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training exercise on Thursday at Camp Carroll in southeast South Korea.
The soldiers participated in the drill to learn the proper procedures for protecting themselves and their fellow soldiers from CBRN incidents. The soldiers wore their joint service lightweight integrated suit technology garments and chemical protective masks during the exercise. The garments, which include underwear, overboots, overgarments and gloves worn over their army combat uniforms, would give them protection against battlefield contaminants during a real incident, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System reports.
The soldiers formed groups of 10 and entered into a gas chamber wearing their protective masks. Next, they checked to ensure their equipment was properly worn. The soldiers then removed their masks, held their breath, closed their eyes and were exposed to chemical gas before shouting a chant and exiting the chamber.
“It was not too bad, and I am glad that I did it,” Lee Dong-hyun, a private first class and equal opportunity assistant with the 19th ESC, said, according to Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. “The training really built confidence in (my) protective mask that it really works and how important it is to have good maintenance on it” (BioPrepWatch, 2012).
Title: S Korea Uses North's Flag In Military Exercise
Date: June 25, 2012
Abstract: North Korea has reacted angrily to the use of its national flag during live fire exercises by South Korea.
The exercises, carried out last week with US forces, were the largest staged in nearly 60 years.
The resulting spat has drawn defiant statements from both sides of the Korean Peninsula.
The BBC's correspondent in Seoul, Lucy Williamson, reports (BBC, 2012).
South Korea Developing 'Kamikaze' Attack Drone
Date: October 9, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: A suicide drone capable of a strike in North Korea, is under development in South Korea.
The "Devil Killer" can reach speeds of approximately 250 mph, thanks to an electric motor, has a length of about 5 feet and a fuselage to match, and a wingspan just over 4 feet, according to state-funded Korea Aerospace Industries . The company has been working on the drone with Hanyang University and Konkuk University.
Korea Aerospace offered a progress report on the drone project at the Joint Chief of Staff’s joint weapons system development seminar, Korea Times reported . The event at a club in Yongsan, Seoul, was attended by South Korean defense firms as well as 400 military officials, arms sellers and experts, according to Yonhap, South Korea’s news agency.
Reports as to the explosive payload, endurance and range have been inconsistent.
But some facts are known: Intended to be portable, it has foldable wings and weighs 55 pounds. The drone is pre-programmed with a route and using a video camera and GPS device, the drone can automatically identify targets. The company says it can either undertake an automatic strike or a manually executed one.
Like Aerovironment’s Switchblade, a leading U.S. version of this sort of kamikaze drone, if the drone can’t acquire its target, it can be redirected to another mission.
Tensions between North Korea and South Korea continue to remain high. In 2010, North Korea shelled South Korean Yeonpyeong Island, resulting in sixteen South Korean marines and three civilians being injured.
The scuttlebutt is that the Devil Killer could strike a target 25 miles away in about 10 minutes. If correct, South Korea could launch the Devil Killer from the very same island targeted in 2010 to attack North Korea’s Kaemori Base within 4 minutes.
After further testing and development, the Devil Killer is expected to be deployable by 2015.
What about drone development on the other side of the Korean border? There have been reports that North Korea is also determined to develop a drone with suicide capability.Some experts believe the North Korean program is based on the American MQM-107D Streaker. Earlier this year, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea acquired a fleet of Streakers from Syria (Fox News, 2012).
Title: South Korea Cancels Rocket Launch Amid Speculation North Korea
Readying Launch Of Its Own
Date: November 29, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: South Korea on Thursday scrapped an attempt to fire its first satellite into orbit from its own soil amid speculation that North Korea was preparing to fire its own long-range rocket.
Scientists in South Korea cited technical problems with the rocket's flight control system. It's the second time in a month that Seoul has been forced to cancel a launch at the last minute as it attempts to join an elite group of nations that have launched satellites from their own land.
But it is North Korea's rocket program that has raised worry in recent days. Two South Korean officials said Thursday that there are signs of preparations at a North Korean rocket site on the northwest coast. They declined to be named because of office rules preventing them from speaking publicly of intelligence matters.
A North Korean long-range rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff in April, but the attempt drew United Nations condemnation and worsened already tense relations between the Koreas.
Washington and Seoul say Pyongyang uses such rocket launches to develop missiles that could target the United States. Technology employed in scientific rocket launches can be easily converted into use for missiles.
North Korea says its launch attempts are part of a peaceful space program and are meant to put satellites into orbit.
Any North Korean launch in the next several weeks would be seen in Seoul as an attempt to influence South Korea's Dec. 19 presidential election.
South Korea failed in its two previous rocket launches from its own soil in 2009 and 2010. South Korea has launched domestically-made satellites aboard foreign-made rockets from other countries since 1992.South Korea's 142-ton Naro's first stage is built by Russia. Its South Korean-made second stage is meant to release a scientific satellite once it reaches orbit (Fox News, 2012).
Title: South Korea Launches Satellite-Carrying Rocket
Date: January 30, 2013
Abstract: South Korea successfully launched Wednesday a two-stage rocket carrying a research satellite, a first for a space program long overshadowed by the launches of neighboring North Korea.
The rocket took off at 4 p.m., roaring into a clear sky from a launch pad near the city of Goheung on the country's south coast. Crowds gathered to watch on rocky hills and small islets near the site, and the launch was broadcast live on national TV networks.
Officials said the satellite had been successfully delivered and is due to begin sending signals to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology early Thursday, so they won't label the launch a complete success until at least then.
South Korea developed the 140-ton Naro rocket with assistance from Russia's space agency, which built the vehicle's first stage. Following the apparent success on Wednesday, TV broadcasts showed Korean and Russian officials hugging each other in a viewing center near the launch site.
Wednesday's launch came after two delays in October and November. In the first, a leak was found in a fuel line to the rocket's first stage. After that was repaired, another attempted launch was scrubbed because of a technical problem detected 17 minutes before liftoff.
The European Space Agency, which has 20 member states, has been routinely launching rockets since 1979. North Korea last month launched a three-stage rocket into space, succeeding on its fifth attempt since the 1990s.
The North Korean rocket was built with parts of its own design and from the former Soviet Union that Pyongyang claimed as its own, South Korean and other experts have said. And the satellite the country claims to have placed into space hasn't been transmitting, according to amateur observers and space experts in other countries.
Last week, the U.N. Security Council extended its sanctions against the North as a penalty for the rocket launch. That has prompted Pyongyang to warn that it will soon test a nuclear explosive, similar to the way it reacted to penalties imposed on it for launch attempts in 2006 and 2009.
The country's South Korean space program coordinated through the government's Korea Aerospace Research Institute, has proceeded at a slow pace similar to the early years of launches by China, Japan, France and the European agency.
Some South Korean politicians and media worried that a third failure would damage the country's international image and its space-related efforts. Japan and the European Space Agency had four failures over many years before a successful launch.
The U.S. and Soviet Union pioneered space rocketry in the late 1950s with a rapid succession of launches. In 1958 and 1959, the U.S. attempted 19 launches with five successes.
The South Korean agency, known as KARI, has no further rocket launches on its immediate timeline and said it will focus on work with private contractors to develop rocket engines of increasing size and power over the next decade.
Following Wednesday's launch, the Korea
Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a statement urging the government to
"exert more efforts to develop space industry as a value-added future
growth engine” (WSJ,
Title: SKorea, US Begin Drills As NKorea Threatens War
Date: March 10, 2013
Source: AP My Way
Abstract: South Korea and the United States began annual military drills Monday despite North Korean threats to respond by voiding the armistice that ended the Korean War and launching a nuclear attack on the U.S.
After the start of the drills, South Korean officials said their northern counterparts didn't answer two calls on a hotline between the sides, apparently following through on an earlier vow to cut the communication channel because of the drills.
Pyongyang has launched a bombast-filled propaganda campaign against the drills, which involve 10,000 South Korean and about 3,000 American troops, and last week's U.N. vote to impose new sanctions over the North's Feb. 12 nuclear test. Analysts believe that much of that campaign is meant to shore up loyalty among citizens and the military for North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang isn't believed to be able to build a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, and the North's military has repeatedly vowed in the past to scrap the 1953 armistice. North Korea wants a formal peace treaty, security guarantees and other concessions, as well as the removal of 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
Still, South Korean and U.S. officials have been closely monitoring Pyongyang's actions and parsing the torrent of recent rhetoric from the North, which has been more warlike than usual.
North Korea regularly claims South Korea-U.S. drills are a preparation for invasion, but Pyongyang has signaled more worry about the drills that began Monday. The drills follow U.N. sanctions that the North says are the result of U.S. hostility aimed at toppling its political system.
North Korea has also warned South Korea of a nuclear war on the divided peninsula and said it was cancelling nonaggression pacts.
Under newly inaugurated President Park Geun-hye, South Korea's Defense Ministry, which often brushes off North Korean threats, has looked to send a message of strength in response to the latest threats. The ministry warned Friday that the North's government would "evaporate from the face of the Earth" if it ever used a nuclear weapon. The White House also said the U.S. is fully capable of defending itself against a North Korean ballistic attack.
North Korea has said the U.S. mainland is within the range of its long-range missiles, and an army general told a Pyongyang rally last week that the military is ready to fire a long-range nuclear-armed missile to turn Washington into a "sea of fire."
While outside scientists are still trying to determine specifics, the North's rocket test in December and third atomic bomb test last month may have pushed the country a step closer to acquiring the ability to hit the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction. Analysts, however, say Pyongyang is still years away from acquiring the smaller, lighter nuclear warheads needed for a credible nuclear missile program.
But there are still worries about a smaller conflict. North Korea has a variety of missiles and other weapons capable of striking South Korea. In 2010, North Korea shelled a South Korean island and allegedly torpedoed a South Korean warship, killing a total of 50 South Koreans.
Both incidents occurred near the disputed western sea boundary, a recurring flashpoint between the Koreas that has seen three other bloody naval skirmishes since 1999.
Kim Jong Un visited two islands just north of the sea boundary last week and ordered troops there to open fire immediately if a single enemy shell is fired on North Korean waters. Kim was also quoted as saying his military is fully ready to fight an "all-out war" and that he will order a "just, great advance for national unification" if the enemy makes even a slight provocation, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
Despite the threats, South Korea and the U.S. began the 11-day war games as scheduled Monday. The allies have repeatedly said the drills and other joint exercises are defensive in nature and they have no intention of attacking the North.
A U.S. military statement said the exercise is not related to current events on the Korean Peninsula.
The drills are part of larger war games that began March 1 and are set to go on for two months.U.S. troops in South Korea are meant to prevent North Korean aggression, U.S. and South Korean officials say, and are a legacy of the Korean War, which ended with the peace treaty that leaves the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war (AP My Way, 2013).
Title: South Korea Says North Korea Tested 2 Short-Range Missiles
Date: March 16, 2013
Source: Fox News
Abstract: North Korea test-fired a pair of short-range missiles into its eastern waters this past week in a likely response to ongoing routine U.S.-South Korean military drills, a South Korean official said Saturday.
The North launched what appeared to be KN-02 missiles during its own drills, the military official said. He would not say on which day the missiles were fired or give other details, and declined to be named, citing policy.
North Korea routinely launches short-range missiles in an effort to improve its arsenal, but the latest test comes at a time of rising tensions. Pyongyang has threatened nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington because of the U.S.-South Korean drills and recent U.N. sanctions over its third nuclear test.
Analysts say Pyongyang's threats are partly an attempt to push Washington to agree to disarmament-for-aid talks (Fox News, 2013).
Title: U.S. Flies B-52s Over South Korea
Date: March 20, 2013
Abstract: The U.S. Air Force is breaking out some of its heaviest hardware to send a message to North Korea.
A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that B-52 bombers are making flights over South Korea as part of military exercises this month.
"Despite challenges with fiscal constraints, training opportunities remain important to ensure U.S. and ROK (Republic of Korea) forces are battle-ready and trained to employ air power to deter aggression, defend the Republic of Korea and defeat any attack against the alliance," Pentagon spokesman George Little said Monday in a meeting with reporters at the Pentagon.
Little said the eight-engine bombers first flew as part of the annual Foal Eagle training exercises on March 8 and were to fly again over South Korea on Tuesday.
"This mission highlights the extended deterrence and conventional capabilities of the B-52 Stratofortress," Little said Monday.
The bombers are flying out of Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam as part of what the U.S. Pacific Command calls a "continuous bomber presence" in the region. The round trip between Guam and the Korean Peninsula is about 4,000 miles.
"These ... missions are routine and reiterate the U.S. commitment to the security of our allies and partners," Little said.
The B-52 flights come amid spiking tensions between North Korea and the United States after the U.N. Security Council voted to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea following its latest nuclear test last month.
In a slew of angry rhetoric in response to the U.N. vote, North Korea has threatened to carry out a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the United States and South Korea and said it was nullifying the armistice agreement that stopped the Korean War in 1953.
Reacting to the U.S. flights, a spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry described them as an "unpardonable provocation," the state news agency reported.
"The DPRK is now closely watching the move of B-52 and the hostile forces will never escape its strong military counteraction, should the strategic bomber make such sortie to the peninsula again," KCNA reported.
Seoul said the B-52 flights demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
"As North Korea threatened to attack South Korea with nuclear weapons, the exercise involving B-52s is meaningful as it shows U.S. commitment to provide its nuclear umbrella on the Korean Peninsula," South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing, according to a report from the Yonhap news agency.
U.S. officials said they don't believe North Korea is in a position to strike the United States at the moment, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans last week to deploy additional ground-based missile interceptors on the West Coast as part of efforts to enhance the nation's ability to defend itself from attack.As for the B-52s, they have been in the U.S. arsenal since 1955. Once part of the country's nuclear triad planes, missiles and submarines, the B-52 is now used predominantly as a conventional bomber and as a platform for air-launched cruise missiles. The Air Force said B-52s dropped 40% of all the munitions used by coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s (CNN, 2013).
Title: U.S. Deploys Stealth Fighter Jets To South Korea
Date: April 1, 2013
Abstract: The United States deployed stealth fighter jets to South Korea on Sunday as part of ongoing joint military exercises between the two countries, a senior U.S. defense official said.
The F-22 Raptors were sent to the main U.S. Air Force Base in South Korea amid spiking tensions on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. military command in South Korea said they were deployed to support air drills as part of the annual Foal Eagle training exercises, which are carried out in accordance with the armistice that put an end to armed hostilities in 1953.
North Korea has been ramping up its rhetoric and military show of force in response to the annual joint military exercises, declaring the armistice invalid on March 11, 10 days after Foal Eagle began. It is something Pyongyang has done before during heightened tensions.
The United States' participation in Foal Eagle is intended to demonstrate the country's "commitment to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific Region," the U.S. military command in South Korea said in a statement that also urged North Korea to tone down its rhetoric.
"The (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia," the statement said. "The North Korean leadership is urged to heed President Obama's call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations."
North Korea's hot rhetoric
The deployment follows fresh insults over the weekend from Pyongyang's propaganda machine comparing the U.S. mainland with a "boiled pumpkin," unable to endure an attack from a foreign foe, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. North Korea, on the other hand, could withstand an offensive from the outside, the report said, thanks to shelters that the government had built around the country.
But the Pentagon and the South Korean government have said it's nothing new.
"We have no indications at this point that it's anything more than warmongering rhetoric," a senior U.S. Defense Department official said late Friday. The official was not authorized to speak to the media and asked not to be named.
The National Security Council, which advises the U.S. president on matters of war, struck a similar chord, saying Washington finds North Korea's statements "unconstructive" and is taking the threats seriously.
"But, we would also note that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats, and today's announcement follows that familiar pattern," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the security council.
The United States will continue to update its capabilities against any military threat from the North, which includes plans to deploy missile defense systems.
In an added slap, North Korea has declared that it had entered a "state of war" with neighboring South Korea, according to a report Saturday from KCNA.
"The condition, which was neither war nor peace, has ended," North Korea's government said in a special statement carried by KCNA.
Saturday's reports also asserted any conflict "will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war."
"If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations," she said in a meeting with senior defense and security officials, according to her office.
The South: It's not new
South Korea has not, however, treated its neighbor's latest threat as imminent danger.
Seoul noted scores of its personnel had entered the Kaesong Industrial Complex -- a joint economic cooperation zone between the two Koreas situated on the North's side of the border -- on Saturday morning. Hundreds more were set to join them later in the day, seeming to suggest both sides were going about business as usual.
The South's officials said that North's threats to shut down the complex earlier Saturday were part of the North's "measures of putting military alert to highest level," but the South was taking the North's words "seriously," the South Korean Unification Ministry Press Office said.
The threats aren't "beneficial" to the development of the economic zone, the South's ministry said. Currently, 310 people work in the industrial complex, the ministry said. However, the South hasn't detected any "irregular trend" in the zone, the ministry said.
Pyongyang's declaration it was readying its missiles also did not seem to worry officials in the South.
"The announcement made by North Korea is not a new threat, but part of follow-up measures after North Korea's supreme command's statement that it will enter the highest military alert" on Tuesday, South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a statement.
Map appears to show U.S. targets
A day earlier, the same official North Korean news agency reported its leader Kim Jong Un had approved a plan to prepare standby rockets to hit U.S. targets in the Pacific, including in Hawaii, Guam, and South Korea.
Behind North Korea's heated words about missile strikes, one analyst said, there might not be much mettle.
"Unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea's strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that U.S. forces may be stationed," James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane's Defense Weekly, wrote in an opinion column published Thursday on CNN.com.
U.S. official: We're 'committed ... to peace'
U.S. defense officials said Friday that the North's bantering is destructive.
"This is troubling rhetoric that disrupts the prospects for peace on the Peninsula," the senior official said.
Some observers have suggested that Washington is adding to tensions in the region by drawing attention to its displays of military strength on North Korea's doorstep, such as the flights by the B-2 stealth bombers.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel argued against that assertion Thursday.
"We, the United States and South Korea, have not been involved in provocating anything," he said. "We, over the years, have been engaged with South Korea on joint exercises. The B-2 flight was part of that."
Washington and its allies "are committed to a pathway to peace," Hagel said. "And the North Koreans seem to be headed in a different direction here."
Pyongyang's allies irked
The tense situation has irritated North Korea's traditional allies, China and Russia, drawing regular calls for restraint on all sides in recent weeks. Saturday, the Kremlin repeated this admonition.
"Moscow expects all parties to exercise as much responsibility and restraint as possible in light of North Korea's latest statements," the Russian foreign ministry said according to Russian state broadcaster Russia Today.
China, which has expressed frustration over Pyongyang's latest nuclear test, also called for calm.
"We hope relevant parties can work together to turn around the tense situation in the region," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday, describing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as "a joint responsibility."
Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt noted Saturday that "Beijing likely to try to calm things down," he said on his Twitter account.
"But the Pyongyang regime is the most militarised, the most authoritarian and the most closed in the world," Bildt tweeted.
Tensions have been rising for months
Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula after the North carried out a long-range rocket launch in December and an underground nuclear test last month, prompting the U.N. Security Council to step up sanctions on the secretive government.
Pyongyang has expressed fury about the sanctions and the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises, due to continue until the end of April.The deteriorating relations have killed hopes of reviving multilateral talks over North Korea's nuclear program for the foreseeable future. Indeed, Pyongyang has declared that the subject is no longer up for discussion (CNN, 2013).