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S. Korea developing defensive measures against N. Korean chemical attacks

All Headlines 14:10 October 07, 2011

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is researching and developing defensive measures against potential chemical and biological attacks from North Korea, the South's defense minister said Friday.

During the annual parliamentary audit, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said South Korea doesn't yet have vaccines against such offensives, but they will be put in place soon.

"Since the project costs a lot of money, we haven't settled on the exact date on when we can develop vaccines," Kim said. "But once they're developed, there should be no major problem."

Kim said the U.S. Forces in Korea own vaccines against anthrax. But he said South Korean health authorities have similar vaccines and the military is also capable of developing its own vaccines.

Han Min-koo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the South and the U.S. troops have engaged in joint detection and identification exercises, and they will cooperate with each other during contingencies.

The defense ministry estimates that North Korea owns up to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons and is capable of growing anthrax, smallpox and cholera.

Han also addressed concerns that South Korea's Guided Weapons Defense Command may be vulnerable to North Korean missiles, saying the unit's armory and ammunition chamber will be well protected.

"Developments of mid-range surface-to-air missiles (M-SAM) and long-range surface-to-air missiles (L-SAM), which will be used in missile defense, have been included in the mid-term defense plans," Han said. "I think they may take five to 10 years to develop."

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