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North Korea Accuses U.S. Of Targeting It With Anthrax

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 12, 2014 shows North K
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 12, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C, front) inspecting the command of Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 534. AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KNS/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (Reuters) - North Korea has 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.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment on the accusations.

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.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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