South Korea not prepared for North Korea's bioweapons capability
In a defense white paper, the Ministry of National Defense said that North Korea has biological capabilities, including the ability to synthesize the smallpox virus. The United States sees South Korea as one of the most likely places to see a return of the deadly virus, the Korea Herald reports.
Smallpox is estimated to have killed more than 300 million people during the 20th century. The only treatment is to receive a vaccination within 72 hours of being infected.
While South Korea began stockpiling smallpox vaccines in 2002, tests showed that of the seven million doses, 1.06 million were unfit for use and 4.59 million doses had exceeded the recommended storage duration. The country has no other project for smallpox vaccine stockpiling in the future. In comparison, the U.S. smallpox vaccination program covers its entire population.
"As the Korean military's bio-chemical defense capabilities have been focused on chemical warfare, preparations for biological warfare have been neglected," Shin Hak-yong, a representative with the Democratic Unity Party, said, according to the Korea Herald.