The U.S. maybe, sort of, accidentally, sent some live anthrax to South Korea. Whoops.
The Pentagon said last week that the Defense Department accidentally sent live anthrax samples to labs in nine U.S. states, plus a U.S. airbase in South Korea. The Wall Street Journal reports that chief Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said at the time that there was “no known risk to the general public,” and that no one has shown symptoms from interacting with the powder. Warren added that in South Korea, 22 people were exposed to the poison and are now being treated. (This week, however, the Pentagon revised the number of U.S. labs affected: At at last count, 51 American labs received the deadly powder, and officials warn that the figure will likely rise. So things are still OK, anthrax-wise, but they could be better.)
Al Jazeera spoke with South-Korea based journalist Alex Jensen, who said that “the situation and panic levels are under control.”And while one op-ed from the South Korean Chosun Ilbo indicates the anthrax event may have ruffled some feathers at first:
The South Korean government was oblivious to the entry of such a deadly substance. The U.S. has said it did not need to inform Seoul since it only brought in dead anthrax samples and the government did not object. But mistakes happen, and anthrax is not the only biological weapon in use. Any accident could have catastrophic consequences for South Korea.
…the incident did not induce full-on outrage: “North Korea is believed to have 5,000 tons of biological weapons for use in bio-warfare against South Korea, so the USFK is justified in training to defend itself.”
Allies don’t let anthrax come between them, apparently. U.S.-South Korean relations seem as bright and inspiring as ever!
One nation, however, has taken the opportunity to put the U.S. and South Korea on blast. KCNA, North Korea’s number one source of propaganda, has posted some beautifully-worded conspiracy theories to its website. In one article, titled “U.S. Scheme for Bio-Chemical Warfare Denounced by Papers,” KCNA says that other North Korean papers are really mad at the U.S. From KCNA:
The U.S. is letting loose a string of such lame excuses as "accidental mistake" and "error", just like a man crying wine and selling vinegar…
Burn! But a very descriptive burn.
… but this is just a deceptive farce to calm down anti-Americanism mounting in south Korea, [North Korean paper Rodong Sinmun] says…
wait for it…
The south Korean puppet forces are zealously shielding the U.S. criminal act
Earlier coverage of the incident is similar. In an article titled, “U.S. and S. Korean Authorities’ Moves for Biochemical War Denounced," KCNA again accuses the U.S. of falsely apologizing:
The U.S. is vociferating about 'total disposal of it,' 'apology' and 'responsible step' while claiming it was to 'cope with the north's attack by anthrax germs' in a crafty bid to calm down the south Korean people's anti-Americanism.
…and trying to kill everyone:
The U.S. has staged madcap exercises for a biochemical war aimed to devastate the whole land of Korea and exterminate all Koreans, while conducting horrible tests on south Koreans.
…with the South Korean government’s blessing:
The Park Geun Hye group is, however, working hard to do harm to the compatriots in the north and back the U.S. master, while keeping mum about the above-said crimes. This group is hordes of the worst traitors to the nation.
This is, of course, nothing new for Kim Jong-un's hermit nation, which has a habit of lobbing verbose and insane threats at everyone around them, when not putting their own people in labor camps and executing officials for no reason.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.