U.S. and Korea to hold bio-threat simulation

The South Korean Ministry of National Defense announced on Friday that The United States and Korea will hold an anti-biological terrorism simulation this week.

The simulation, which is called the Able Response 12, will involve 50 U.S. and Korean government organizations, as well as 190 experts from fields related to the exercise. This represents the second time the simulation has been held, the Korea Herald reports.

Able Response 12 is meant to test the country's ability to respond to biological threats that arise from terrorism in addition to biological threats that occur naturally like avian flu epidemics. The experts participating in the drill will look for ways to collaborate in improving the responsiveness to such incidents.

In March, a defense white paper released by the ministry said that South Korea does not have the capabilities to deal with biological weapons such as the smallpox virus. According to the paper, North Korea has biological capabilities including the ability to create the deadly virus.

"Anyone who has the intent and the capability can now create the smallpox virus, which is the most devastating disease we have ever seen," Jacob Cohn, a representative of Danish vaccine maker Bavarian Nordic, said, according to the Korea Herald. "Here the risk (of a smallpox outbreak) is double, in the sense that you have a next door neighbor and you have the international community risk."

Most of the seven million doses the country has stockpiled against smallpox since 2002 were found in the paper to have exceeded the recommended storage duration or are unfit for use.