U.S. and South Korea begin discussing bioterrorism exercise

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.