South Korea, U.S. armies demonstrate bioweapons response

South Korean and U.S. soldiers participated in a training exercise this week that simulated the detection and disposal of North Korean chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons as part of military exercises between the two countries.

North Korea has described these exercises as a rehearsal for invasion while Seoul and Washington say that the simulations are purely for defensive reasons, the AFP reports. The U.S. has had a military alliance with South Korea dating back to the Korean War.

“North Koreans have threatened to use weapons of mass destruction,” Brigadier-General Chuck Taylor said, according to AFP. “This exercise helps us to deter based upon our readiness, and if deterrence fails, to help prevail in any kind of threats and environment.”

An expert estimation believes that Pyongyang, North Korea, may have enough plutonium to build six to eight small atomic weapons, though they are unsure if it is capable of mounting these atomic warheads on missiles, according to the AFP.

According to estimates by South Korea’s defense ministry, North Korea has an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, which might consist of mustard gas, blood agents, nerve agents and phosgene, among others. They are also suspected to have biological weapons capability.

The annual drills, known as the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle drills, started on Monday and involve 12,300 U.S. troops and close to 200,000 South Korean service members, including reserves.