China has detected a deadly nerve gas at its North Korean border and suspects an accidental release from its neighbor, according to a Japanese news report on Oct. 9.
The Chinese military is intensifying its surveillance activities after identifying the highly virulent Sarin gas in November last year and again in February, according to a report from the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, that cited anonymous sources from the Chinese military. The gas was found in Liaoning Province.
Chinese special operations forces found trace levels of Sarin gas when conducting regular surveys in winds blowing from North Korea, the report said.
Yongbo Liang, a chemistry professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said a very small dose of Sarin gas could paralyze the nervous system. Though Sarin is volatile and less lethal in the open air, it is still harmful, he said. Liang said the incident is worthy of attention and the source should be determined.
A chemical plant in Sinuiju, near the North Korea border is suspected of being connected to the North Korean military, said the report. According to South Korea's Defense White Paper in 2008, North Korea began chemical weapons production in the 1980s and is thought to store up to 5,000 metric tons of these weapons.
China suspects that the gas resulted from an accident or experiment.
A resident at the border in Dandong City, Liaoning Province, told Radio Free Asia that he hadn't seen any reports in the media and was worried about safety.
Another resident said he felt helpless since they have no channels to confirm whether the incident was true or not.
A Dandong City government official told the reporter that they had been briefed on the report and had requested details about the incident.
“We learned it through our Environmental Protection Bureau this morning,” the official said. “We need to confirm whether the report is true and will take action afterward.”
Sarin gas, which was developed in Germany before World War I, was used in a deadly nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway in 1995.