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U.S. must continue to develop vaccines against N. Korean biological weapons: nominee

All News 01:27 May 28, 2021

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, May 27 (Yonhap) -- Developing and producing vaccines for biological weapons is critical to protecting U.S. forces in South Korea and ensuring their defense readiness, nominee for U.S. assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs said Thursday.

Deborah Rosenblum made the remark in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I believe it is critical that our joint forces have the protections that they require in order to be able to counter any kind of threat from weapons of mass destruction, including biological as well," she said, referring to the combined forces of South Korea and U.S. Forces Korea.

The U.S. currently maintains some 28,500 troops in South Korea.

A committee member noted the U.S. produced hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccines for plague and botulism in 2020.

Rosenblum agreed to report back to the committee on the future and cost of developing vaccines against biological weapons.

North Korea reportedly has large quantities of chemical and biological weapons while the U.S. also believes the recalcitrant state continues to build up its stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

In its annual report on global threat assessment, released on April 9, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence noted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un remains "strongly committed " in his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons (CBW).

"North Korea will be a WMD threat for the foreseeable future, because Kim remains strongly committed to the country's nuclear weapons, the country is actively engaged in ballistic missile research and development, and Pyongyang's CBW efforts persist," said the report.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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