The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD -

The un­suc­cess­ful test launch of a North Korean ex­tended-range mis­sile on Satur­day has fu­eled me­dia spec­u­la­tion the mis­sile blew up as a re­sult of U.S. clan­des­tine cy­ber at­tacks.

Asked if se­cret U.S. in­ter­ven­tion caused the ex­plo­sion of the North Korean test launch, White House Deputy Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser K.T. McFar­land said Sun­day, “We can’t talk about se­cret in­tel­li­gence and things that might have been done, covert op­er­a­tions that might have hap­pened.”

If U.S. in­tel­li­gence suc­ceeded in get­ting into the sup­ply chain used by North Korea to ac­quire parts for mis­siles from abroad, the in­for­ma­tion likely would be held in an ul­tra-se­cret spe­cial-ac­cess pro­gram and its dis­clo­sure to the public un­likely.

An­other rea­son for the mis­sile fail­ures could be North Korea’s shift from liq­uid fuel to solid fuel, a more chal­leng­ing tech­nol­ogy to master.

The U.S. sab­o­tage spec­u­la­tion is based on a New York Times re­port in March that re­ported the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had in­her­ited a se­cret in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tion to con­duct cy­ber and elec­tronic at­tacks aimed at sab­o­tag­ing North Korean mis­sile launches.

Get­ting inside North Korea’s home­made mis­sile pro­grams would be very dif­fi­cult since Py­ongyang man­u­fac­tures sev­eral types of short-, medium- and long-range mis­siles. Still Py­ongyang ac­quires parts from abroad, in­clud­ing China and Rus­sia that could have been in­ter­cepted and doc­tored to sab­o­tage flight tests.

The Pa­cific Com­mand said the North Korean mis­sile was launched at 5:21 p.m. EDT near Sinpo, a port city on the Sea of Ja­pan where North Korea is de­vel­op­ing its solid-fu­eled KN-11 submarine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

“The mis­sile blew up al­most im­me­di­ately,” the com­mand said in a state­ment.

The Sinpo fail­ure was at least the third mis­sile to blow up af­ter launch from that lo­ca­tion. Two other failed test launches took place there last year, on April 23 and July 9. On Aug. 24, a KN-11 flew around 310 miles, how­ever.

Other failed North Korean mis­sile launches last year in­cluded three Nodong medium-range mis­siles, and six fail­ures of the in­ter­me­di­at­erange Musu­dan mis­sile, ac­cord­ing to a United Na­tions re­port. Both mis­siles use liq­uid fuel.


A North Korean mis­sile ex­ploded dur­ing launch Sun­day from the coun­try’s east coast, U.S. and South Korean of­fi­cials said, a high-pro­file fail­ure that comes as a pow­er­ful U.S. air­craft car­rier ap­proaches the penin­sula in a show of force.

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