Japan claims North Korea may have the ability to launch ballistic missiles armed with chemical weapons.
“There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a parliamentary session Thursday. Sarin is the chemical agent the Syrian regime allegedly used on its citizens earlier in April.
While North Korea’s nuclear weapons program receives the most attention, the North’s chemical weapons program is also a serious threat to consider.
Kim Jong-un’s older half-brother Kim Jong-nam was murdered in Malaysia, reportedly with a VX nerve agent. Pyongyang remains the primary suspect in this high-profile assassination, according to the U.S. and South Korea.
“North Korea may possess between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of [chemical warfare] agents,” the Nuclear Threat Initiative assessed, “At maximum capacity, North Korea is estimated to be capable of producing up to 12,000 tons of [chemical weapons].” Although the North denies it, the country, which is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, is suspected of running an advanced chemical weapons program. The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses estimates that North Korea possesses around 25 chemical agents, including six potent nerve agents, such as VX and sarin.
A report from the Korea Institute for National Unification revealed last month that North Korean drones could be used to drop chemical weapons on enemy targets.
In the event of a conflict, the North might deploy non-persistent agents along the forward-edge of the battlefield and persistent agents on key ports and bases. There are no guarantees in warfare though.
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