Skip to content

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. For a collections resource guide see The Korean War: Collections & Resources on (Image: Chinese propaganda poster from the Korean War era: "Vaccinate everyone, to crush the germ warfare of American imperialism!" )

Popular Documents

February 21, 1952

Ciphered Telegram No. 16715 from Beijing, Mao Zedong to Filippov [Stalin]

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

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."

May 2, 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 6, 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.

April 5, 1952

Record of the Conversation of I.V. Stalin and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Stalin discuss India's internal politics and stance on foreign policy. Radhakrishnan tells Stalin of India's recent elections and emphasizes that India shares the Soviet Union's stance against capitalism. Radhakrishna also puts forth the question of peaceful co-existence between capitalist and communist spheres, and the possibility for a neutral commission to replace the Cominform and UN. Stalin expresses doubt.