[EDITORIALS]Biochemical Fears Have Arrived

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[EDITORIALS]Biochemical Fears Have Arrived

The fear of biochemical terrorism is rapidly spreading. Because anthrax cases were reported for the first time in 25 years, and because white powder, suspected to contain anthracnose, was delivered through the mail, a great fright has now worked its way across America.

There is no evidence that those anthrax cases were done by terrorists; the happenings could be simply nothing more than crimes imitating the recent terror attacks. Yet Americans, who are still suffering from the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, are suffering a nervous breakdown. As we have already seen in the sarin gas attack that happened at a subway station in Japan in 1995, small amounts of biochemical weapons can produce casualties. During the attack carried out by the believers of the Aum Shinrikyo, 12 people died and 5,500 innocent citizens were injured.

Bacteriological weapons, using anthracnose, smallpox virus and plague bacillus, and chemical weapons made of sarin, soman, tabun and potassium cyanide, can be manufactured at small labs at low costs. Such weapons can be used in various ways and are easy to hide and transport. In particular, biochemical weapons are as deadly as nuclear weapons in densely populated countries like Korea. North Korea has the third largest amount of chemical weapons in the world, following the United States and Russia; also, North Korea reportedly has a significant amount of biological weapons. Banning the use of biochemical weapons during wartime should be carried out through international agreements, such as the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972. In order to prevent war on the Korean Peninsula, a continuous effort for reconciliation and cooperation is of great importance. However, it is necessary to agree not to use biochemical weapons between the South and the North.

The most urgent issue is a possible terror attack by fanatic terrorist groups with biochemical weapons. Korea has announced that it is joining the war against terrorism, and significant numbers of U.S. forces' facilities here are on the alert. Furthermore, the upcoming 2002 World Cup games can be seen as a good chance for terrorists. The government should reinforce its preventive measures against biochemical terror, and establish contingency plans for possible biochemical terror attacks as soon as possible.

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