The actors in tyrannies may change for different places and times, but the script remains shockingly consistent.  A high-ranking defector from North Korea has told the media that Kim Jong-Il’s regime routinely used mentally and physically handicapped children to test its biological and chemical weapons, a tale reminiscent of the Nazis and Josef Mengele.  It focuses attention on the DPRK’s other weapons of mass destruction, nearly forgotten in the conflict over their nuclear capabilities:

But among the accounts they carried with them is one of the most shocking yet to emerge — namely the use of humans, specifically mentally or physically handicapped children, to test North Korea’s biological and chemical weapons.

“If you are born mentally or physically deficient, says Im, the government says your best contribution to society… is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing.” …

The former military captain says it was in the early 1990s, that he watched his then commander wrestle with giving up his 12-year-old daughter who was mentally ill.

The commander, he says, initially resisted, but after mounting pressure from his military superiors, he gave in.

Im watched as the girl was taken away. She was never seen again.

One of Im’s own men later gave him an eyewitness account of human-testing.

McKittrick at Closing Velocity notes that this corroborates an allegation repeated by Popular Mechanics in 2007 of political prisoners being put to the same use.  McKittrick normally focuses on missile defense, but explains that this is relevant to that issue:

While many defense analysts are fixated on North Korea’s pusuit of nuclear warhead miniaturization, less attention has been given to their other WMDs — namely chemical and biological weapons. Tipping their intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) with nukes is a significant challenge (one report claims they have already achieved this feat). But swapping a standard high explosive SCUD warhead with a cannister of toxins? Easy …

So while it can certainly be more sensational to talk about a nuclear ICBM bearing down on Hawaii, the more immediate — and fully developed and operational — threat is the potential for toxic missile attacks on the extremely dense population centers in South Korea and Japan.

The barbarity of this is breathtaking, and McKittrick is right to link this to missile defense.  If Pyongyang has continued their bio-chem program — given their intransigence on nukes, they’d be unlikely to have stopped — then those weapons probably represent a greater threat to the region than nukes, at least for the moment.  The biggest threat for those would be terrorism, though, rather than overt warfare, and not just fron Pyongyang.  They could be selling these to any number of groups around the world in exchange for hard currency and the opportunity to take the focus of non-proliferation away from the Korean peninsula.

The US and the other nations remain committed to a negotiated settlement with North Korea, and that door should not be closed.  However, a regime capable of this barbarity cannot be trusted to honor agreements without a boot on its neck and a gun to its temple.

Update: The Irish Spy has more thoughts.

Tags: terrorism