North Korea is currently testing whether it can load anthrax-laden warheads onto its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
According to a report in Japan’s Asahi newspaper Tuesday, an unidentified person connected to South Korean intelligence stated Pyongyang is determining whether the biological agent can survive the high temperatures associated with a warhead’s re-entry from space.
The report, which indicated the Trump administration was aware of the tests, came just one day after the White House said in its National Security Strategy that North Korea was “pursuing chemical and biological weapons” that could “delivered by missile.”
“North Korea — a country that starves its own people — has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that could threaten our homeland,” the report said.
According to estimates from the South Korean government, Pyongyang is believed to possess a stockpile of between 2,500 tons to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons.
In late November North Korea fired a new Hwasong-15 ICBM that reached an altitude of roughly 4,475 km (2,780 miles) and traveled 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight.
The missile, according to the North Korean government, “realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force…”
The Trump administration has continued to institute its policy of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang with sanctions and other actions.
On Tuesday the Trump administration ratcheted up that pressure by accusing North Korea of being behind the WannaCry ransomware attack that crippled computers in more than 150 countries this year.
During a press briefing on WannaCry, Tom Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, condemned North Korea for its “reckless behavior.”
“Mr. Trump has already pulled many levers of pressure to address North Korea’s unacceptable nuclear and missile developments, and we will continue to use our maximum pressure strategy to curb Pyongyang’s ability to mount attacks, cyber or otherwise.”