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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. For more coverage of the Korean War on the Digital Archive, see the collections: Korean War Origins, 1945-1950; Korean War, 1950-1953; Korean War Armistice; and China and the Korean War.

  • April 24, 1953

    Memorandum about Sessions of the CPSU CC Presidium from 13 March to 24 April 1953

    A small excerpt from a document listing all the issues (30 in total) considered by the CPSU Presidium at its six sessions from 13 March through 24 April 1953. The excerpt shows that the biological warfare allegations were taken up by the CPSU Presidium on 24 April.

  • April 24, 1953

    Cover Sheet for Issue II considered by the CPSU Presidium at its Session on 24 April 1953

    A cover sheet verifying that the allegations of the United States used biological weapons in Korea were discussed at the CPSU Presidium on 24 April 1953.

  • April 24, 1953

    Protocol No 6 of the Meeting of the Presidium of the CC CPSU about the MVD Note on the Results of the Investigations into the Reports of Former Advisers to the Ministry of State Security and DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cdes. Glukhov and Smirnov

    Response of USSR to false allegations that Americans used biological weapons in North Korea calls for both dismissal of V.N. Razuvaev from his posts as Ambassador of the USSR to the DPRK and military adviser and the commission of Molotov to address the allegations and send his resultant report to Mao Zedong and Kim Il Sung. This protocol also authorizes the removal of Ignatiev from the CC CPSU.

  • May 02, 1953

    Resolution of the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers about Letters to the Ambassador of the USSR in the PRC, V.V. Kuznetsov and to the Charge d’Affaires for the USSR in the DPRK, S.P. Suzdalev

    Cease the publication of false evidence accusing the US for using biological weapons in North Korea; punish Soviet Workers involved.

  • May 11, 1953

    Telegram to V.M. Molotov from Beijing from the USSR Ambassador to the PRC, V.V. Kuznetsov

    Results of a conversation with Mao Zedong, on 11 May 1953, regarding the falsification of evidence proving US use of biological weapons.

  • May 17, 1953

    Memorandum from the Chairman of the Party Control Commission Shkiriatov to G.M. Malenkov about the Results of the Party Investigation of the Actions of the Former Minister of State Security of the USSR S.D. Ignatiev

    The results of the party investigation of the duplicitous actions of the former minister of State Security of the USSR S.D. Ignatiev in connection with the report of the former advisers to MOB and MVD DPRK, Cdes. Glukhov and Smirnov; calls for dismissal of Ignatiev from the CPSU.

  • June 01, 1953

    Telegram from the USSR Charge d’Affaires in the DPRK, S.P. Suzdalev to V.M. Molotov

    North Korea’s response to Soviets about falsification of evidence concerning American use of biological weapons.

  • June 02, 1953

    Decision of the Party Control Commission of the CPSU CC regarding Comrade S.D. Ignatiev

    Ignatiev’s dismissal from the CPSU

  • November 08, 1953

    Cable from Mao Zedong to Kim Il Sung, 'Plans to Publicize the Confessions of Americans Prisoners of War on Germ Warfare'

    Mao Zedong explains to Kim Il Sung China's plan to issue a communique regarding germ warfare.

  • May 06, 1957

    Tibor Méray, 'The Truth about Germ Warfare'

    Articles by the Hungarian journalist Tibor Meray on his experiences in North Korea during the Korean War and the claims that the United States conducted biological warfare in Korea.

  • July 25, 1969

    Letter from Harry S. Truman to Congressman Kastenmeier

    Truman denies the use of bacteriological weapons by the United States during the Korean War.

  • September, 1997

    Wu Zhili, 'The Bacteriological War of 1952 is a False Alarm'

    Wu Zhili's claims that bacteriological warfare allegedly conducted by the United States in Korea in 1952 was a "false alarm."

  • June, 2000

    Tibor Méray, 'Germ Warfare: Memories and Reflections'

    Tibor Meray reminisces about the biological warfare allegations during the Korean War.