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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Korean War Biological Warfare Allegations

In 1951 and again in 1952, China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union alleged that the United States conducted biological warfare (BW) in areas of the PRC and in the DPRK. Although the United States denied doing so and the Communist bloc was unable to produce reliable evidence to substantiate its claims, the allegations were not shown to be complete fabrications until the release of Soviet-era records in the late 1990s. Although even today China and North Korea have not publicly repudiated the allegations, it is now clear that the accusations of the use of a weapon of mass destruction were false and part of a grand piece of political theater.

  • 1952

    Mao Zedong's 'Inscription on Smashing the Enemy’s Germ Warfare'

    An inscription made by Mao Zedong related to China's germ warfare allegations against the United States.

  • February 19, 1952

    Mao Zedong, 'Comments on the Report concerning the Discovery and Handing of the Enemy Air Dropping Insects on the Korean Front'

    Mao Zedong's comment on a report from Nie Rongzhen on the dropping of insects over North Korea by the United States.

  • February 21, 1952

    Cable, Mao Zedong to Filippov (Stalin)

    Mao Zedong requests help from Stalin regarding the dropping of insects on North Korea by the United States.

  • February 23, 1952

    Cable, Filippov (Stalin) to Mao Zedong

    Stalin promises support with investigating Amercan bacteriological warfare in North Korea

  • February 28, 1952

    Cable from Nie Rongzhen, 'Report on American Invaders Using Bacteriological Weapons and Our Responsive Action'

  • March 04, 1952

    Cable from Mao Zedong to Zhou Enlai, 'Comments on the Discovery of Insects in the Suburbs of Fushun'

    Mao Zedong's comment on the preparation of vaccines for soldiers and civilians in the regions related to the supposed bacteriological warfare

  • March 07, 1952

    Cable, Zhou Enlai to Filippov (Stalin)

    Zhou Enlai's request to Stalin to increase its assistance by dispatching anti-epidemiological specialists.

  • March 10, 1952

    Cable, Zhou Enlai to Filippov (Stalin)

    Zhou Enlai's request to Stalin to supply more anti-epidemiological aid to China.

  • March 11, 1952

    Cable from Mao Zedong to Stalin, 'Request that the Soviet Union Dispatch an Air Division to Assist in Intercepting the Spreading of Bacteria by Enemy Planes'

    Mao's request to the USSR to dispatch an air division to Northeast China.

  • March 14, 1952

    Cable, Filippov (Stalin) to Zhou Enlai

    Stalin replies to China's request for specialists, medication, and vaccinations.

  • March 16, 1952

    Cable from Mao Zedong, 'On Copying the Organizational Methods for Preventing Epidemics of the Chinese People’s Volunteers'

    Mao orders several military districts in China to copy the organizational methods of the Chinese People’s Volunteers and carry out hygiene work.

  • May 14, 1952

    Mao Zedong, 'Comments on a Report about the Situation of Anti-Germ Warfare Prevention Work'

    Mao's comment on the report concerning plague in North Korea and encephalitis in Northeast China.

  • June 24, 1952

    Cable, Mao Zedong to Filippov (Stalin)

    Mao Zedong writes to Stalin about inviting Soviet specialists to continue investigating the bacteriological warfare allegedly carried out by the United States.

  • July 30, 1952

    Mao Zedong, 'Comments on the Sanitation Services of the Volunteer Army'

    Mao Zedong's positive comment on the work of the Sanitation Services of the Chinese People's Volunteers.

  • April 01, 1953

    Explanatory Note from Glukhov to the Ministry of Public Security of the DPRK

    Soviet Union’s role in fabrication of evidence blaming the US for using biological weapons in North Korea.

  • April 13, 1953

    Explanatory Note from Glukhov to L.P. Beria

    Explanation of the North Korean attempts to falsify evidence of US Biological weapon use.

  • April 14, 1953

    Explanatory Note from Lieutenant Selivanov to L.P. Beria

    Selivanov, student at the S.M. Kirov Military-Medical Academy and former adviser to the Military-Medical Department of the KPA, describes how he falsified an outbreak and blamed it on American bacteriological weapons.

  • April 18, 1953

    Explanatory Note from Lt. Gen. V.N. Razuvaev to L.P. Beria

    Razuvaev explains the steps taken to make it appear that Americans are using biological weapons in the Korean War. China initially sent reports of such weaponry, and soon after Korea, led by Soviet advisors, joined in the falsification of biological attacks by creating false plague regions with the help of the Korean Ministry of Health. After visits from two international delegations, Korea eventually abandoned its plan to falsely accuse America, while China continued to advance the story.

  • April 21, 1953

    Memorandum from L.P. Beria to G.M. Malenkov and to the Presidium of the CC CPSU

    Question regarding Soviet role in falsifying evidence of American biological weapons.

  • April 21, 1953

    Memorandum from V.M. Molotov to Members of the Presidium of the CC CPSU

    On false claims of the use of biological weapons in the Korean War.