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N. Korea has capability to genetically engineer biological military products: US report

By Yonhap

Published : April 16, 2024 - 09:15

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US State Department report, titled US State Department report, titled "Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments," is seen in this image. (US State Department)

North Korea has the capability to genetically engineer biological military products, an annual US report showed Monday, noting Pyongyang has a "dedicated, national-level offensive" biological weapons program.

The State Department issued the report, titled "Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments." It was prepared in consultation with the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The DPRK also has the capability to genetically engineer biological products with technologies such as CRISPR, which have been reported by its State Academy of Sciences and other sources," the report said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

CRISPR is an acronym for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. It is a technology used to selectively edit genes.

In last year's edition of the report, North Korea was described as having "at least a limited capability" to genetically engineer biological products.

The change in the wording raised speculation that the North's biological weapons production capability might have improved.

The report noted that the North has had a steady focus on its BW program.

"The United States assesses that the DPRK has a dedicated, national level offensive BW program," it said.

"The DPRK has the capability to produce biological agents for military purposes. The DPRK has the technical capability to produce bacteria, viruses, and toxins that could be used as BW agents," it added. (Yonhap)