North Korea’s embarrassing missile launch failure may have been caused by US cyber attack as Donald Trump warns his military may ‘have no choice’ to strike the rogue nation.
North Korea’s latest nuclear test missile exploded five seconds after launch yesterday because of an American cyber attack, experts believe.
A South Korean defense official said the action took place in Sinpo, a port city in eastern North Korea. That was the site of a ballistic missile test earlier this month in which the projectile fell into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
The North Koreans use Sinpo shipyard for their submarine activity, and US satellites have observed increased activity there in April, a US official said at the time of the previous test.
They say US agents may have infected the hi-tech electronics in tyrant Kim Jong-un’s rocket with an undetectable virus that caused a massive malfunction.
Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday described North Korea’s failed missile test as “a provocation” that highlighted the risks plaguing both the region and the United States, as the White House said President Trump had an array of military, diplomatic and other options to respond.
“This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face each and every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world,” Mr. Pence said at an Easter dinner at Yongsan military base in Seoul, South Korea, where he was beginning a 10-day tour of Asia.
Mr. Pence said he had spoken with Mr. Trump, who asked him to convey to the troops stationed in South Korea that “we’re proud of you and we’re grateful for your service.”
“It could have failed because the system is not competent enough to make it work, but there is a very strong belief that the US, through cyber methods,has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail,” according to former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
In 2014, former US president Barack Obama ordered that efforts be stepped up to counter North Korea’s missile capabilities with cyber attacks and electronic warfare. North Korea has seen a significant increase in failed launches in the years since, though there has been no official claim of the programme’s success.
A US foreign policy adviser travelling with Mr Pence on Air Force Two said the test had come as no surprise.
“We had good intelligence before the launch and good intelligence after the launch,” the adviser told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“It’s a failed test. It follows another failed test. So really no need to reinforce their failure. We don’t need to expend any resources against that.”
Pyongyang spent the weekend showing off its arsenal of ballistic missiles alongside thousands of goose-stepping troops in a military parade.
The attempted test, and a weekend parade of Pyongyang’s military hardware, prompted international condemnation and an American promise of further action if the hermit state failed to end its provocations.
The Trump administration had been anticipating action this weekend because Saturday was the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, making it the country’s most important holiday and one often used to score propaganda points.
“We were expecting something particularly surrounding the birthday of his grandfather, so it wasn’t a surprise,” K. T. McFarland, Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser said. “I don’t have any particular comment on what happened with the North Korean missile, but it was a fizzle.”
Ms. McFarland, declined on Sunday to say whether the United States had sabotaged North Korea’s launch.
“You know we can’t talk about secret intelligence and things that might have been done, covert operations that might have happened,” she said.
Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, said the United States was developing an array of potential responses to North Korea’s latest move, in consultation with China.
“The president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons,and so we’re working together with our allies and partners, and with the Chinese leadership, to develop a range of options.”
Mr. Trump, who is spending Easter weekend at Mar-a-Lago, had no direct response to the launch, but on Sunday he suggested that China was helping the United States formulate a strategy to counter the North Korean menace, and that he was refraining from calling Beijing a currency manipulator in part because of that cooperation.
It came as the US’s national security adviser confirmed for the first time that Washington was working with China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.