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Fact Check: US Has Biological Warfare Labs In South Korea?!

Does US Have Biological Warfare Labs In South Korea?!

Is the US conducting biological warfare experiments at their secret labs in South Korea?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : US Has Biological Warfare Labs In South Korea!

Official Chinese state media outlets like Xinhua,  People’s Daily, China Daily, and their 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛) are claiming that the US is conducting biological warfare experiments at their secret labs in South Korea.

Note : It’s a long post, so please feel free to skip to the next section for the facts…

China Daily Fri, Apr 15, 2022

US biolabs create fear in South Korea
XINHUA

SEOUL — South Koreans are gripped with fear over the prospect that US biological weapons laboratories operated by the US Forces Korea, or USFK, will transform the country into Washington’s “overseas hub” for biological warfare experiments.

The United States has flouted international conventions by steadily advancing its germ warfare program in the country. It sees South Korea as a country “friendly” enough to let the US military test lethal toxins without institutional hurdles.

 

Truth : US Does NOT Have Biological Warfare Labs In South Korea!

Now, I must first point out that it is impossible to prove a negative – that something that doesn’t exists, doesn’t actually exist.

But based on a complete lack of evidence, this is yet another example of Chinese propaganda warfare, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : This Story Has Been Repeated Since 2020

A quick check shows that the Chinese state media have been promoting the story of the US biological warfare labs in South Korea since April 2020, if not earlier.

So this story isn’t new. It was repeated in July 2020, and then in August 2021, before the current slew of coverage in March and April 2022.

Fact #2 : No Evidence Of US Biological Warfare Lab In South Korea

Despite waxing lyrical about the US military conducting biological warfare experiments in their South Korea labs, the Chinese state media offered ZERO evidence.

There is no evidence of biological warfare experiments being conducted in South Korea, and there is no evidence of US setting up laboratories for the research and development of such weapons.

Fact #3 : Anthrax Was Sent To 9 US States, Australia + Canada Too

Chinese state media claimed that US biological warfare experimentation was “exposed” when live anthrax samples were sent to the Osan Air Base in South Korea.

The truth is – the same anthrax samples were sent to 51 laboratories in nine US states, as well as Australia, Canada and South Korea.

So the claim that US sent anthrax to South Korea because they let the US military “test lethal toxins without institutional hurdles” is nonsense.

This incident was covered widely by the global press, so it is peculiar that Chinese state media would (intentionally?) misinform their readers.

Fact #4 : Anthrax Samples Were Used For Tests

These anthrax samples were mailed to those laboratories as part of ongoing efforts to develop field tests for anthrax.

These tests are usually conducted using dead samples of anthrax, because live anthrax would obviously be a biosecurity risk.

Fact #5 : Anthrax Samples Were Supposed To Be Dead

What the Chinese state media won’t tell you is that those anthrax samples were supposed to be dead.

In March 2014, the Dugway Proving Grounds – a US Department of Defense laboratory which conducts biosecurity research – irradiated a batch of anthrax samples with gamma rays to kill them.

In April 2015, they mailed the “dead” anthrax samples to 51 labs in the US, Canada, Australia and South Korea, by commercial postal services because the samples were supposed to be completely “dead”.

This incident was covered widely by the global press, so it is peculiar that Chinese state media would (intentionally?) misinform their readers.

Fact #6 : US Military Was Unaware Anthrax Samples Were Active

What the Chinese state media will also “forget” to tell you is that the US military was unaware that the anthrax samples were still active.

It was a commercial laboratory in Maryland that alerted the Pentagon on 22 May 2015, after they discovered that their sample had some active spores.

As CDC spokesperson Jason McDonald explained, the samples were quickly transferred to the CDC :

The samples are being carefully transferred to the CDC in Atlanta. They are starting to arrive, but cautioned that the samples need five more days to grow before officials can determine if they contain live anthrax.

While this was a deeply concerning accident that could have been disastrous, it was most definitely not an attempt to conduct biological warfare experiments in South Korea.

This incident was covered widely by the global press, so it is peculiar that Chinese state media would (intentionally?) misinform their readers.

Officials from the South Korea-U.S. joint working group conduct an on-site inspection of a laboratory at Osan Air Base, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday, about 70 days after the Pentagon admitted that live anthrax samples were accidently delivered there. / Joint Press Corps

Fact #7 : Anthrax Sample In South Korea Was Destroyed

The anthrax sample in South Korea was quickly destroyed, even though there was no evidence it was still active – the batch was simply assumed to have not been sufficiently irradiated.

The military destroyed the anthrax on Wednesday after the sample, which was thought to be inactive, was suspected of being live. None of the personnel in contact showed signs of exposure. But they were given exams, antibiotics, and in some cases, vaccinations.

The military stresses there was no risk to the public. The exposure happened in a contained lab environment on the Osan Air Base, which is 65 miles south of Seoul. It’s one of a number of bases that houses the estimated 28,000 American military personnel based in South Korea.

Fact #8 : No One Got Sick

Four lab employees in the states of Texas, Delaware and Wisconsin, as well as 22 military and civilian personnel at the Osan Air Base, were given antibiotics as a precaution.

However, no one got sick from the potential exposure to the anthrax spore samples. I have to stress – there was no actual evidence that anyone got infected by those anthrax samples.

Fact #9 : Anthrax Is Naturally Found In Soil

Despite its fearsome reputation, anthrax is a disease caused by bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis, that is naturally found in soil, and commonly affects domestic and wild animals.

While people can get infected by breathing in its spores, it usually does not spread from human to human.

As long as the anthrax samples were not being weaponised, the US did not contravene the Biological Weapons Convention.

The use of dead anthrax samples to develop or improve or certify tests for anthrax most certainly do not contravene the Biological Weapons Convention.

Fact #10 : USFK Must Report To Korea CDC When Importing Biological Agents

The South Korea-US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was revised in 2015 to mandate that the USFK must file a report with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when importing any biological agents, including inactivated biological agents.

So the claim that the US military can bring in biological materials without informing the South Korean government is no longer true since 2015.

It is interesting that Chinese state media are still (intentionally?) not aware of that development…

Fact #10 : JUPITR Was Designed To Detect Biological Threats

Chinese state media claim that US biological warfare experiments are being conducted under the JUPITR program.

That’s nonsense, because JUPITR (Joint United States Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition) is a bio-surveillance program.

JUPITR was set up to monitor for biological threats posed by North Korea, using new bio-surveillance analysis equipment like :

  • BioFire Film Array, which can process Dry Filter Unit samples in 5-6 hours, instead of several days
  • IQuum Liat, which is a sample-to-result molecular diagnostic system
  • 3M Focus

To be clear – JUPITR does not involve biological warfare experiments.

JUPITR Biosurveillance Station

Fact #11 : JUPITR Ended Development In 2018

Interestingly, Chinese state media (intentionally?) forgot to mention that the development of the JUPITR program ended in 2018.

While its passive early warning capability remains in place, there has been no further work done on the JUPITR program since 2018.

So I have to wonder why they are still harping on JUPITR in 2022… Do they really have nothing new to report on?

Fact #11 : CENTAUR Was Designed To Detect Biological Threats

The Chinese state media also claim that US biological warfare experiments are being conducted under the CENTAUR program, which is also nonsense.

CENTAUR, which is short for “Capabilities to Enhance NBC Threat Awareness, Understanding & Response“, is an early warning system that looks for biological threats in South Korea.

To ensure that such a system works, the USFK (US Forces Korea) uses samples of dead pathogens (like the anthrax samples mentioned earlier) to test its detection capabilities.

The USFK has publicly announced that they do not use live samples for testing, after a few dozen people protested against the CENTAUR program.

We hold the health and safety of our service members, civilian employees, family members and Korean neighbors in the highest regard. The CENTAUR system is safe. USFK does not and has never used live agents for testing.

Photo credit : Yonhap

Fact #12 : Biological Warfare Banned In 183 Countries

Biological warfare has long been banned by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) that was signed on 10 April 1972, and came into effect on 26 March 1975.

As of January 2022 – 183 countries have become party to this treaty, which means they agreed to stop development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological weapons.

Fact #13 : Biological Labs Are Essential To All Countries

What the Chinese state media (intentionally?) don’t mention is that biological labs are a necessity in ALL countries.

Biological labs do not conduct biological warfare research, because that is banned in 183 countries under the BWC (see Fact #12).

Instead, they are on the forefront of a country’s biosecurity defences, and are absolutely essential in developing tests and cures (including vaccines) for new and emerging diseases, like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

In fact, China itself has a number of biological labs, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is located right at the epicentre of the first COVID-19 outbreak.

It would be hypocritical and (intentionally?) misleading for Chinese state media to demonise biological labs. After all, they are ESSENTIAL to every country’s national security, including China’s.

Read more : Did GSK Make COVID-19 In Their Wuhan Lab?

This fake news appears to be part of the disinformation campaign conducted by the Chinese state media and their 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛).

Please help us fight such malicious fake news – SHARE this fact check far and wide!

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Did Israel Reject Al Jazeera Request For 10 Extra Minutes?

Did Israel reject a request for 10 extra minutes to vacate the Al Jazeera building in Gaza, before bombing it?

Find out what’s this viral claim all about, and what the FACTS really are!

 

Claim : Israel Rejected Al Jazeera Request For 10 More Minutes!

A video showing a man pleading with Israeli authorities for 10 more minutes before a building is demolished, is being circulated, together with this message :

Director of Al Jazeera Palestine was begging for extra 10 minutes to Israel Army officer. But he refused to give any extra time and destroyed the Al Jazeera Building in Palestine in minutes.

They asked them to evacuate the building first and then used GPS Coordinate guided Bombs to destroy the Al Jazeera Palestine Head office building. The punishment is for broadcasting Fake news about Israel.

 

Did Israel Reject Al Jazeera Request For 10 Extra Minutes? Not Quite…

Irrespective of our views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must agree that they should be based on facts.

We investigated this video and claim, and here are the FACTS :

Fact #1 : That Is Not The Director Of Al Jazeera Palestine

The man in the video is not the director of Al Jazeera Palestine.

He is Jawad Mahdi – the owner of the al-Jalaa building that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on 15 May 2021.

Fact #2 : There Is No Al Jazeera Palestine, Or Al Jazeera Building

There is no organisation known as Al Jazeera Palestine, or a building called Al Jazeera Building.

The building in the video is the al-Jalaa, a 12-storey office tower which hosted the bureau offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera in Gaza.

Fact #3 : Israel Gave Them One Hour To Vacate

The IDF gave al-Jalaa occupants an hour to vacate the building. They would normally drop “roof knocker” bombs as a final warning before destroying the building.

However, it is impossible for anyone to vacate such a large building in such a short time frame, with anything more than some belongings.

Fact #4 : Israel Rejected The Request For 10 Extra Minutes

Jawad Mahdi was seen in the video asking an Israeli intelligence officer for an additional 10 minutes, so that four journalists can go in to retrieve their belongings.

The Israeli intelligence officer rejected his request, and the video shows the building collapsing after being bombed.

Fact #5 : Israel Claimed Hamas Secretly Used The Building

IDF and the Israeli government claimed that Hamas secretly used the building for “military intelligence purposes” and a unit operating out of the building had been “conducting sabotage operations against the IDF”.

However, they did not offer any evidence, or explain why it was justifiable to demolish a 12-storey office building that was “secretly” being used by Hamas.

It was also not explained why it was not possible to give journalist the extra 10 minutes to retrieve their belongings, when they had no issue giving the other occupants (and the secret Hamas operatives inside) an hour to evacuate the building.

 

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The Latest Cyber Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures

Jason Wells was a military intelligence officer for 17 years, before going into the private sector. He is now the Asia Pacific CEO of QCC Global – the world’s largest company specialising in TSCM (Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures).

In this special presentation at the Kaspersky Lab Palaeontology of Cybersecurity Conference, he gave an overview of TSCM over the years before sharing the latest in Cyber TSCM, particularly with the upcoming 5G technology.

Don’t forget to check out the other Kaspersky Palaeontology of Cybersecurity presentations!

 

Cyber Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures

Like other members of QCC Global, Jason Wells is literally a poacher turned gamekeeper. He now helps organisations prevent their secrets from being leaked or intercepted by technical surveillance.

Here are the key takeaway points :

  • Physical keyloggers are still being used, because organisations ignore the risks.
  • Miniature GSM transmitters (smaller than a one Euro coin!) are now used to wirelessly transmit data over a third-party network.
  • Military-grade devices will use burst transmissions to avoid detection.
  • VOIP calls are possible to tap – as long as the device or line can be accessed, all conversations can be recorded or copied.
  • Light modulation or laser eavesdropping devices are now available to listen from a great distance.
  • WiFi light bulbs can be modified to pick up voices and transmit it to nearby devices via subtle modulation of the light wavelength or frequency.
  • A key concern, other than the typical eavesdropping of corporate offices, is backdoor access to Building Management Systems that are used in many modern buildings.
  • Public WiFi access points are a common source of “man-in-the-middle” attacks, where attackers set-up free access points that mimic actual public access points.
  • Bluetooth technology is a boon to surveillance devices because it is very low-powered. With Bluetooth Class 5, they now have a much longer range (400 m) and twice the speed, while drawing less power.[adrotate group=”2″]
  • Roughly 60% of the surveillance devices that QCC Global detects use cellular technology to transmit their data. The rest still use radio to transmit their data wirelessly.
  • Cellular technology gives an attacker great flexibility in areas of good coverage because he can dispense with additional requirements like a listening post, or rebroadcasters.
  • Using the cellular network also allows the listening device to hide amongst the many mobile devices nearby.
  • 5G technology will be a game-changer, offering new possibilities for technical surveillance.
  • With every 5G device always connected, they will make it much, much harder for counter surveillance companies like GCC Global to detect 5G listening devices.

Don’t forget to check out the other Kaspersky Palaeontology of Cybersecurity presentations!

 

Cyber Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures Slides

Here are Jason’s presentation slides on cyber technical surveillance counter-measures for your perusal :

 

Please Support My Work!

Support my work through a bank transfer /  PayPal / credit card!

Name : Adrian Wong
Bank Transfer : CIMB 7064555917 (Swift Code : CIBBMYKL)
Credit Card / Paypal : https://paypal.me/techarp

Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

Recommended Reading

Go Back To > Military | CybersecurityTech ARP

 

Support Tech ARP!

Please support us by visiting our sponsors, participating in the Tech ARP Forums, or donating to our fund. Thank you!