North Korea is moving to acquire machinery that could be used for a biological weapons program, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Kin Jong Un has sent out scientists to earn advanced degrees in microbiology, and has ordered the creation of factories that can produce microbes by the ton, as well as laboratories that specialize in genetic modification.
Current and former U.S. officials said they have not seen any hard evidence so far that North Korea has ordered production of any weapons outside samples and prototypes, the newspaper reported.
North Korea acquired the pathogens that cause smallpox and anthrax many years ago, according to The Washington Post.
“The lingering question is, why have they acquired the materials and developed the science, but not yet produced weapons?” one official said to the newspaper.
The biological weapons program would be in addition to North Korea's burgeoning nuclear weapons program.
Pyongyang launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile late last month, ending a two-month hiatus for missile launches from the country. The missile landed in the Sea of Japan.
The missile is said to have traveled nearly 2,800 miles high and for a distance of more than 600 miles. North Korea claimed the missile, called a Hwasong-15, is capable of reaching anywhere on the U.S. mainland.