CYBER SABOTAGE OF NORTH KOREA’S MISSILES?
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.