North Korea recently surprised the world by announcing it is developing a Covid-19 vaccine, joining a high-stakes race to show off its scientific chops. But experts increasingly believe the famously secretive Kim Jong Un could also have a more nefarious goal in mind: Using the humanitarian crisis to beef up his biological weapons arsenal.
North Korea “could use this legitimate vaccine aspiration as a way to enhance their biotechnology capability,” says Andrew Weber, who was assistant secretary of Defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs during the Obama administration. ”They could buy equipment from Western or Chinese sources that would be necessary for their vaccine effort, and then next year they could turn around and use it to produce biological weapons.”
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