World Bulletin / News Desk
A joint investigation into this year's anthrax scare at a U.S. military base in South Korea will be set in motion this week, according to Seoul's foreign ministry Sunday.
The panic triggered by late May's news of the delivery of live anthrax from an official laboratory in Utah to Osan Air Base south of Seoul was shortlived as the U.S. administered precautionary treatment to all military personnel who may have been exposed to the deadly bacteria.
In addition to the absence of anthrax casualties, South Korea's attention was at the time also being diverted to an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome -- which has gone on to infect a total of 186 people, claiming 36 lives locally.
But now the South's government is turning its attention back to what could have been a public relations disaster for the country's alliance with Washington, not to mention a health threat.
A ministry statement explained that a joint working group would be composed of officials and experts from both South Korea and the U.S.
The aim of the task force, which will head to Osan Air Base this month, is to establish exactly what happened and how to prevent a recurrence.
Even though the U.S. has already had to deal with the fallout from the blunder, which also affected a number of other American facilities, Seoul has a domestic population to consider.
"South Korea and the U.S. share a grave perception that we need to dispel the Korean people's concerns over the incident and protect their health and safety," the ministry made clear.
The working group will be jointly led by the local defense ministry and U.S. Forces Korea.
Public opinion is sensitive to the presence of nearly 30,000 American military personnel in South Korea -- while the U.S. plays a key protective role in the face of threats from North Korea, there is also momentum towards greater independence and development of indigenous defense capabilities.Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Temmuz 2015, 13:36