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N. Korea’s terror attack with chemical weapon in peacetime

N. Korea’s terror attack with chemical weapon in peacetime

Posted February. 27, 2017 07:10,   

Updated February. 27, 2017 07:21

한국어

The Donald Trump administration of the U.S. is reportedly considering a plan to designate North Korea as "state sponsor of terrorism" anew. The move comes after Malaysia confirmed that the North used the nerve gas VX in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam. South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, who is attending the U.N Human Rights Council and the Geneva Arms Reduction Conference on Monday, is set to urge the international community to proactively deal with the case. If the North is not punished properly this time, chances are high it will commit terror attacks again.

North Korea possesses an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 tons in total of 25 different chemical weapons, ranking third in the world after the U.S. and Russia. The volume is more than enough to wipe out the entire South Korean population. Pyongyang has also 13 different types of biological weapons including anthrax, along with 17 biological weapons factories. The bigger problem is there is a high risk that the North could assassinate important figures and cause social chaos in the South by using its biological weapons not only in the event of armed conflict but also during peacetime. Notably, it is almost impossible to trace the origin when it comes to biological weapons such as anthrax, cholera and smallpox, which South Korea has been overlooking while focusing on the North’s nuclear weapons.

According to analysis by the South Korean Defense Ministry, North Korea plans to dump 31 tons of biological and chemical weapons into the South on Day 1 of war by using its long-range artillery and airplanes. The number of expected fatalities due to such an attack will hit up to 2.8 million people. Even so, the South is significantly lacking air-raid shelters that are equipped for biological and chemical attacks. Of the 210 evacuation shelters run and managed by the South Korean government, only 30 are designed as facilities for chemical and biological attacks. All of the 23,000 shelters run by the private sector nationwide are completely defenseless.

South Korea is one of the 192 member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but the North has not joined the organization. As such, the South should create mood in the international community to pressure the North to join the organization before completely discarding all of its biological and chemical weapons. The South should also repair and improve evacuation shelters, introduce more gas masks, and conduct regular drills to prepare for a biological and chemical attack. The U.S. troops stationed in South Korea give out gas masks not only to service members but also to their families, and conduct live evacuation drills every year. Seoul cannot afford to disregard the situation as if it is none of business.