The United States Used Biological Weapons during the Korean War
Did the United States military make a pact with the devil during the closing days of World War II?These deeply troubling questions are answered in the affirmative in THE UNITED STATES AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, to be published on January 4 by Indiana University Press. A work of serious and exhaustive scholarship, the book brings together an array of evidence amassed from interviews and governmental archives and presents a compelling argument that the United States did in fact secretly experiment with biological weapons during the Korean War.
The authors describe how on the initiative of its service chiefs, the United States granted immunity to a group of Japanese war criminals in return for their cooperation in sharing their knowledge of biological warfare. These Japanese scientists and military leaders conducted biological warfare on Chinese cities and had murdered at least 3,000 Allied prisoners of war, including some Americans, in the course of "scientific" germ war tests. The Japanese program and the American deal remained one of the best kept official secrets of the two countries for over 35 years. Even the declassified documentary record remains conspicuously silent on how the Japanese program was integrated into American plans.
Canadian historians Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman fill in this picture through research conducted in the United States, Japan, Great Britain, Canada, and Europe. In addition, they were the first foreigners to be given access to classified documents in the Chinese Central Archives, documents that substantiate the claim of Chinese Premiere Zhou Enlai-initially a skeptic himself on the reliability of early reports-that outbreaks of cholera and plague in the spring of 1952 were due to an American aerial attack. Endicott and Hagerman interviewed Chinese scientists who investigated these outbreaks, and reviewed the confessions of American POWs who admitted to participating in bacteriological warfare, later to retract those confessions-under threat of court martial.
The evidence points to the conclusion that the United States government lied to both Congress and the American public when it claimed that the American biological warfare program was purely defensive and for retaliation only.
"The history of the biological warfare program, experimentation in the
Korean War, and the continuing evasiveness and secrecy about what happened
in those distant days make the Korea War a living part of the continuing
debate on public morality and the waging of war," assert the authors. "Secrecy
still surrounds this period, raising doubts about whether the United States
was sincere in finally ratifying an international protocol against biological
warfare in 1972. . . . The need for less concealment remains. Greater knowledge
and historical perspective can help the public and policy makers join together
to prevent what happened in the heat of the early Cold War from happening
again. We hope that one day the full story will help prod medical doctors,
scientists, and universities to take effective action to ensure that the
science of healing will never again be used to build weapons of war. Apart
from this, our wish is that the record of deceptions and 'plausible denials'
from the Korean War era, precedents that continued through much of high
policy making in the United States and other nations in the second half
of the twentieth century, will alert future generations to more seriously
question special pleas about national security that are advanced in times
of international tension."
Publication date: January 1999
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