Despite the 8,000 or so miles that separate the country from its West African epicenter, North Korea had one of the most dramatic reactions to this year’s Ebola outbreak. Borders were closed to tourists, and any arrivals to the country were forced into a 21-day mandatory quarantine; the few North Korean citizens who were allowed to leave had that privilege rescinded.

Now, North Korea may have revealed the logic behind the panic: Top Pyongyang officials appear to believe that this Ebola outbreak began as a biological weapon created by the United States.

In an article published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) last week, Hong Sun Gwang, vice president of North Korea’s State Sanitary Inspection Board, asserted that the United States — “kingpin of human rights abusers in the world” — was behind the spread of Ebola. The article said that “an aide to ex-U.S. President Reagan” had “disclosed in an article that the United States developed a progenitor of Ebola virus at bio-weapon institutes built in West African countries for the purpose of launching a biological warfare.”

While only his last name is included in the KCNA story, that former aide appears to be Paul Craig Roberts, an economist now better known for his sometimes controversial views. In October, Roberts published a blog post titled “Is The US Government The Master Criminal Of Our Time?” which, rather than drawing from his time working in government, cited writings published online about Ebola by two academics working in America: Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois and Cyril Broderick, who teaches at Delaware State University.

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