North korea remains chemical attack threat

The next North Korean leader will take over an impoverished country that supports a large military armed with massive amounts of chemical weaponry and a small nuclear arsenal.

The Korean military is thought to have an annual budget of between $4 to $7 billion. The country’s population is thought to be approximately 24 million people, 1.2 million of whom are currently serving in its armed forces, according to

U.S. and allied military planners believe that South Korea would ultimately win in a conventional war, but fear Pyongyang would seek to inflict mass numbers of casualties and cause panic by using its chemical and biological arsenal.

South Korean defense estimates are imprecise, but the general consensus is that the Korean People’s Army is in possession 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including mustard, phosgene, blood agents, sarin, tabun and V-agents. The chemical agents could be delivered by long-range artillery, multiple rocket launchers, ballistic missiles, aircraft or naval vessels.

Experts are unsure of the extent of Pyongyang’s biological weapons development program, but believe they have stockpiles of botulinum toxin and anthrax.

North Korea has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention but is a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of chemical or biological weapons in war. Pyongyang denies having programs to create such weapons, according to