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N Korea said to have 13 types of biological weapons.

SEOUL: North Korea is thought to have 13 types of viruses and germs which can be used in biological weapons, as well as up to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, South Korea s defence ministry said Monday.

In a report to parliament, the ministry said the communist North has one of the world s largest stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

The list of diseases that could be caused by the biological weapons includes cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, eruptive typhus, typhoid fever and dysentery, it said. The ministry estimated its neighbour s stockpile of chemical weapons at between 2,500 to 5,000 tons.

The assertions that the North has chemical and biological weapons, in addition to its nuclear and conventional weaponry, are not new. But Monday s report gave more details of the alleged biological arsenal.

The International Crisis Group said in a report in June that PyongyangEoe1/4aos nuclear capabilities are the greatest threat, but it also has a large chemical weapons stockpile and a suspected biological weapons programme.

The chemical weapons could be deliverable by artillery or missile to cause massive civilian casualties in South Korea, the Brussels-based think-tank said.

The stockpile includes between 2,500-5,000 tons of mustard gas, phosgene, blood agents, sarin, tabun and persistent nerve agents and can be delivered by long-range artillery, missiles, aircraft and naval vessels, it said.

The North and South have remained technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended only in an armistice and not a peace treaty. The South s 655,000-strong military, backed up by 28,500 US troops, faces off against the North s 1.2 million-member armed forces.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Oct 5, 2009
Words:290
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