I think analysts often make the error of focusing on nuclear weapons at the expense of chemical and biological weapons. These stockpiles can be horrifically deadly, are cheaper to produce and maintain, and have a much higher chance of ending up in the hands of terrorists. They also have a higher degree of deniability.
A South Korean think-tank is warning that the North Koreans are capable of producing up to 12,000 tons of chemical weapons. Here’s their breakdown of the DPRK’s stockpile:
The South’s defence ministry estimates that North Korea has some 2,500-5,000 tonnes of nerve gas, blood agents, mustard gas and other chemical agents.
Kwon said the North could produce up to 12,000 tonnes of chemical weapons deliverable by artillery, missile or aircraft.
He said that 5,000 tonnes of chemical agents could contaminate about 2,500 square kilometres (950 square miles), four times the area of Seoul.
The North would be capable of producing 625,000-1.25 million chemical bombs if it used all of its chemical stockpile at once, he said.
What’s really frightening about this huge stockpile is that it makes it much harder to secure. North Korea is highly corrupt, and those in charge of securing the weapons must be highly tempted by bribery as they struggle to take care of themselves and their families. In fact, I’m surprising such a transfer hasn’t happened already.
The regime is increasingly unstable. What will happen to these weapons if the regime starts to crumble?