U.S., South Korea to practice detection of bioweapons

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.