June 19 (UPI) -- North Korea may be secretly developing biological weapons in camouflaged facilities across the country, according to a U.S. weapons expert, who also stated in a separate report that construction activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station is ongoing.
Writing for 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., stated the Kim Jong Un regime either possesses or will soon possess "operational nuclear weapons," an "ongoing offensive biological weapons research program," and a "longstanding chemical weapons program with a militarily significant inventory of these weapons."
Bermudez also states North Korea deliberately built its nuclear, biological and chemical programs in "extreme secrecy," using "camouflage, concealment and deception operations to mask the NBC infrastructure" or using "legitimate, defense or civilian industrial and research infrastructures" to build weapons that are "simply unknown" outside the North Korean government.
The analysis published last week also provided rough estimates of the number of North Korean personnel involved in each of the programs.
According to Bermudez, there are about 1,500-3,000 North Koreans and 25-30 entities involved in the biological weapons program, 3,500-5,000 people and 25-50 entities involved in the chemical weapons program, and about 9,000-15,000 people and 100-150 entities involved in the "research, development, testing or production of nuclear weapons."
In a separate report, Bermudez said satellite imagery shows ongoing construction at the Sohae station and given the "good state of repair" of the vertical engine test stand, launch pad and gantry tower, either a new engine test or satellite launch could "occur with little or no advance warning."
North Korea recently claimed it is closer to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially hit any target in the continental United States.