Military Worries About Biochemical Drone Attack

The Defense Ministry in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday discussed the threat from North Korea's biochemical weapons, which are believed to include smallpox and anthrax. The worry is that the North could launch a biochemical attack using unmanned aerial vehicles.

The meeting was reportedly called urgently after several North Korean drones crashed in South Korea.

"Besides Defense Ministry officials, officials from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, civilian experts, and U.S. military officers attended the meeting to review various matters, including a vaccine supply plan in preparation for a biochemical attack from the North," a military source said.

The military believes that the North could remodel small reconnaissance drones into "suicide" attack aircraft. Each of the current small UAVs could carry about three to four kg of explosives, experts speculate.

A Defense Ministry official said, "It seems likely that the North could load its UAVs with biochemical bombs rather than small conventional bombs whose attack effect might would not be very grave."

The North is believed to have the capacity to cultivate and produce some 2,500 to 5,000 tons of various chemical weapons and 13 biological weapons including anthrax, smallpox, plague, tularemia, and hemorrhagic fever.

If drones should drop biochemical weapons like smallpox, which spreads by airborne transmission, massive human casualties could occur.

The Defense Ministry has reportedly earmarked a budget for a stockpile of vaccines this year for the first time.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 10, 2014 12:56 KST