Disturbing clue in North Korean’s blood
A NORTH Korean soldier who defected this year may have been vaccinated against anthrax, sparking fears Kim Jong-un's regime have weaponised the killer disease.
South Korean authorities have revealed a defector was found to have antibodies in his bloodstream which may suggest he has developed an immunity, according to The Sun.
The soldier's identity has not been revealed but it is believed he was either exposed to anthrax or directly vaccinated against it, reports UPI.
A South Korean intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to South Korean news network Channel A, said: "Anthrax antibodies have been found in the North Korean soldier who defected this year."
The deadly disease can kill at least 80 per cent of those who are exposed to the bacterium in 24 hours, unless antibiotics are taken or vaccination is available.
It is understood South Korea's military have yet to build up enough stocks of the anthrax vaccine.
Defence Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo has said an anthrax "vaccine is expected to be developed by the end of 2019".
The presidential office denied on Sunday that it had only imported anthrax vaccines for the leader and his inner circle.
Meanwhile North Korea's neighbours say the rogue state is now conducting illegal biological weapons tests to see if it can load anthrax-laden warheads onto its missiles.
The shocking report out of Japan cites top-level contacts within the South Korean intelligence service.
The Asahi newspaper report said the US government is aware of the tests, which were meant to ascertain whether the anthrax bacteria could survive the high temperatures that occur when warheads re-enter from space.
North Korea has a stockpile of between 2500 tonnes to 5000 tonnes of chemical weapons, and is capable of producing biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox, South Korea stated.
The terrifying revelations came a day after the White House published its National Security Strategy, a document that said Pyongyang is "pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile".
"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.
However, today Kim's rogue state said it will "take revenge" on the US for saying Pyongyang is developing biological weapons.
North Korea said via its state media Korean Central News Agency that: "As a state party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), [it] maintains its consistent stand to oppose development, manufacture, stockpiling and possession of biological weapons.
"The more the US clings to the anti-[North Korea] stifling move ... the more hardened the determination of our entire military personnel and people to take revenge will be," said KCNA.
The state's propaganda arm called the US claims "groundless" and said it was just an excuse for harsher sanctions after President Donald Trump labelled North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism.
Earlier this month, North Korea claimed it had completed its nuclear force after it fired a new Hwasong-15 ICBM in late November. It brags the rocket can hit the mainland US.
South Korea assessed the missile - North Korea's largest yet - and found it could potentially fly 13,000km and reach Washington.
The worrying news comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in is seeking to soothe relations with China and Kim Jong-un before the Winter Olympics starts in his home country in February.
Mr Moon suggested he was even prepared to scrap his country's long-running military drills with the US. Pyongyang has long described the joint exercises on land, air and sea as nothing more than preparations for war.
Earlier this week UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned Tory MPs that North Korea could hit London with a missile in as little as six months.
And he told a private Westminster meeting on Wednesday that the US could pull all of their military presence out of South Korea in a bid to convince China to step in to topple Kim.
Mr Johnson's dire warning - revealed today by Sun columnist James Forsyth - echoes similar doomsday predictions from military top brass.
Sir Richard Barrons, the ex-commander of Joint Forces Command, said in November that the rogue state could develop nuclear weapons capable of striking the UK within a year-and-a-half.
WHAT IS ANTHRAX AND HOW DANGEROUS IS IT?
Anthrax is an acute disease which is caused by the bacterium bacillus anthracis. The bacterium forms spores that can lie dormant in extremely harsh conditions, reactivating when they are inhaled, ingested or come into contact with a skin lesion. Because they can survive in such harsh climates, anthrax spores have been weaponised by at least five countries: Britain, Japan, the United States, Russia and Iraq.
Humans can present with cold or flu-like symptoms for several days before pneumonia and severe respiratory collapse, which often proves fatal if the spores affect their pulmonary system. In other circumstances, gastrointestinal consumption of bacteria can cause vomiting of blood, acute inflammation of the intestinal tract and diarrhoea.
In 2001, a week after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, five letters containing powdered anthrax were mailed to media outlets in New York. Three weeks later, another two letters were sent to US senators. The attacks killed five people in total.
Anthrax, once in the environment, can be spread about the population when it comes into contact with clothes or shoes. The body of someone who had live anthrax spores at the time can also spread them.