North Korean anthrax attack could kill 600,000

An American defense expert recently warned that North Korea could kill between 20,000 and 600,000 South Koreans if it released anthrax over Seoul, depending on the dispersion method.

Bruce Bennett, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, said that approximately 40 percent of those infected in such an attack would die within 10 days. Bennet made the comments at an international symposium on North Korea’s biochemical capabilities held at the Korean Military Academy, according to

A North Korean attack using an aerosolized form of anthrax would leave many with respiratory anthrax, the most difficult form of the illness to treat. Most of the affected would show symptoms of exposure by the third day and begin dying on the fourth day.

Bennett said that because North Korea would most likely use several means of dispersing anthrax spores, including missiles, aircraft and special forces equipped with specialized equipment, South Korea should take action now to bolster its detection capabilities.

Bennett suggested that aircraft that could potentially carry anthrax should be destroyed, if at all possible, over North Korean airspace because the virus could reach the ground even after the planes are intercepted. Bennett also encouraged South Korea to investigate domestic groups with connections to North Korea that would be capable of spreading chemical materials over a large area.

Overall, Bennett said that the use of biological weapons by North Korea would occur as a prelude to an attack, adding that it would change the nature of any conflict on the Korean Peninsula.