As the race to develop a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus continues, some are now raising red flags about the effect the disease may have on North Korea dictator Kim Jung Un’s arsenal of biological weapons.
As Politico reports:
North Korea recently surprised the world by announcing it is developing a Covid-19 vaccine, joining a high-stakes race to show off its scientific chops. But experts increasingly believe the famously secretive Kim Jong Un could also have a more nefarious goal in mind: Using the humanitarian crisis to beef up his biological weapons arsenal.
North Korea “could use this legitimate vaccine aspiration as a way to enhance their biotechnology capability,” says Andrew Weber, who was assistant secretary of Defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs during the Obama administration. ”They could buy equipment from Western or Chinese sources that would be necessary for their vaccine effort, and then next year they could turn around and use it to produce biological weapons.”…
The fears highlight a longstanding concern in the biotech world, where much of the technology and knowledge is inherently dual-use—as good for killing as for healing. The fermenters used to manufacture certain vaccines, for example, can also be used to produce anthrax. Genetic modification builds vaccines, as well as novel, lethal pathogens. Aerosolized drug delivery can send a medicine deeper into the lungs—or shoot a deadly agent through a ventilation system…
Of the 16 countries suspected of having bio arms—including Russia, China and Iran, all of which are pursuing coronavirus vaccine research—Weber has always been most worried about North Korea, which has a history of ignoring international weapons agreements and blurring the line between military and civilian research. “I think they’re more likely to use a biological weapon against us than a nuclear weapon,” he says. “They could easily … launch a bio attack in New York City if they choose to. … You’d only need small amounts to kill thousands, tens of thousands of people.”
The ultimate fear is that North Korea may use coronavirus vaccine research to develop a stronger, more lethal version of the coronavirus that is immune to any and all attempts to treat it. A true doomsday scenario which may be more likely than many want to believe.