North Korea accused the United States of targeting it with anthrax and asked the United Nations Security Council to investigate Washington's "biological warfare schemes" after a live anthrax sample was sent to a U.S. base in South Korea.
Live anthrax samples, which can be used as a biological weapon, were inadvertently sent to Australia, Canada, Britain, South Korea and laboratories in 19 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., the Pentagon said recently.
"The United States not only possesses deadly weapons of mass destruction ... but also is attempting to use them in actual warfare against (North Korea)," Pyongyang's U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam wrote in a letter to the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which was made public Friday.
U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke, said Washington had seen the letter, and added: "The allegations are ridiculous. They don't merit a response."
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North Korea accuses U.S. of targeting it with anthrax
United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in San Salvador, on January 16, 2015. Ban took part in the commemoration ceremony of the 23nd anniversary of the peace agreements signed by the Salvadorean government and the former guerrilla in 1992 which ended a 12-year civil war. AFP PHOTO/ MARVIN RECINOS (Photo credit should read Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers his address during a function entitled 'India and the United Nations in a Changing World' in New Delhi on January 12, 2015. Ban Ki-moon is on a three-day visit to India, his fourth trip to the country as UN chief. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon (L) and Austrian transvestite singer Conchita Wurst wave at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, on November 3, 2014, as they meet on the occasion of UN chief's speech on tolerance and the rights of homosexuals. Thomas 'Tom' Neuwirth, better known by his drag stage persona Conchita Wurst, came to international attention when winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 with the song 'Rise Like a Phoenix'.
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Kim Jong Un flashes his computer skills for gathered North Korean officials. (KCNA/Reuters/Corbis)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 17: South Korean conservative protesters burn an effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during an anti-North Korea protest marking the second anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's death on December 17, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. The tension is heightened in South Korea since the report that North Korea has executed Jang Song-Thaek, Kim Jong Un's uncle on December 13, 2013. On December 17, 2013 North Korea also commemorates two years since the death of former leader Kim Jong-il. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 17: South Korean conservative protesters shout slogans during an anti-North Korea protest marking the second anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's death on December 17, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. The tension is heightened in South Korea since the report that North Korea has executed Jang Song-Thaek, Kim Jong Un's uncle on December 13, 2013. On December 17, 2013 North Korea also commemorates two years since the death of former leader Kim Jong-il. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
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U.S. investigators are trying to ascertain whether the shipments of live anthrax stemmed from quality control problems at the U.S. military base in Utah which sent them, Pentagon officials have said.
North Korea "strongly requests the Security Council take up the issue of the shipment of anthrax germs in order to thoroughly investigate the biological warfare schemes of the United States," Ja wrote in his letter, dated June 4.
He attached a statement from North Korea's National Defense Commission, which urged the world to consider the anthrax shipment "the gravest challenge to peace and a hideous crime aimed at genocide."
North Korea is under U.N. sanctions for carrying out nuclear tests and missile launches. In addition to an arms embargo, Pyongyang is banned from trading in nuclear and missile technology, and is not allowed to import luxury goods.
The U.N. Security Council also added the issue of human rights in North Korea to its agenda in December, after a U.N. Commission of Inquiry report last year detailed abuses in the impoverished Asian state that it said were comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.