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James Stavridis

Nukes Aren’t the Only Terrifying Threat From North Korea

Anthrax, ricin, botulism, smallpox and the like should all be on the agenda of future summits. 

What’s inside?

What’s inside?

Source: AFP/Getty Images


As Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un hold their summit in Vietnam, there is a major danger that the narrow focus on nuclear weapons obscures: Kim holds the whip in a three-ring circus of weapons of mass destruction. The other two rings, adjacent and in many ways more frightening, feature chemical weapons and – above all – biological threats.

The North Koreans are suspected by U.S. and South Korean intelligence agencies of holding substantial amounts of a variety of biological agents including smallpox, botulism, typhoid and anthrax. In 2015, the North Korean media showed Kim touring a biological plant. A former Pentagon official in charge of countering such programs told reporters that North Korean bioweapons are “advanced, underestimated, and highly lethal.”