North Korea, Iran and Syria may be building biological weapon arsenals

North Korea is helping Iran to develop a genetically altered smallpox virus, adding to the cache of more than 16 biological agents Iran is already developing, according to several biological threat analysts.

Jill Bellamy van Aalst, Clare Lopez and Reza Kahlili said on Thursday that Iran, Syria and North Korea are increasing their efforts on developing biological weapons. Bellamy van Aalst is a biological warfare threat analyst, Lopez is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and Kahlili is a former CIA operative serving on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, the Washington Times reports.

"Genetically modified, weaponized biological agents would pose threats for which there are no known medical countermeasures," the authors said, according to the Washington Times. "Biological weapons are silent until they explode in epidemics or pandemics. Calculating kill ratios and controlling strikes as with chemical weapons and nuclear weapons are nearly impossible with biological weapons."

Iran and Syria are reportedly two countries that received genetically altered biological weapon agents and developed their own domestic programs. Both countries have extensive pharmaceutical and medical research and development infrastructure, which would be further used to conceal a biological weapons program.

The analysts said that more must be done to reduce the threat of the proliferation of biological weapons in the Middle East, the Washington Post reports.

"The threats from these deadly microbial agents are alarming and real," the authors said, according to the Washington Post. "The unleashing of biowarfare agents against Israel and the United States could bring both countries to their knees. These deadly biological weapons programs in Iran and Syria must be stopped."