NORTH Korea’s latest nuclear test missile exploded five seconds after launch yesterday because of an American cyber attack, experts believe.
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.
North Korea fired the missile in defiance of President Trump sending a naval task force to the region.
Tyrant Kim Jong-un ordered the provocative launch from near the port city of Sinpo yesterday.
It exploded 4-5 seconds after take-off, humiliating the North Korean despot in the eyes of the world.
Experts later said it was possible the medium-range ballistic rocket, thought to be a Nodong, was brought down by a US cyber attack.
North Korea is forced to import the high-tech electronics used in its missiles.
US agents are believed to have infiltrated the supply chain and may have planted undetectable “malware” viruses inside Kim’s missiles.
As soon as a launch was detected, a signal could have been delivered to the infected component via satellite from the US National Security Agency headquarters in Maryland.
Defence analyst Paul Beaver said: “It is perfectly feasible the US brought down this missile.
“Their cyber warfare capabilities are now highly advanced.
“As soon as military satellites watching Sinpo detected an imminent launch, a team at the National Security Agency would have got to work.
“It’s possible for them to have sent a signal directly to the missile from Maryland which effectively zapped it out of the sky.
“North Korea has had a string of launch failures and it may be no coincidence that they have happened as the US went to cyber war.”
Yesterday’s debacle came a day after grinning Kim showed off missiles and military hardware and thousands of goose-stepping troops at a vast military parade in his capital Pyongyang.
The humiliation could end up costing North Korea’s military commanders dearly.
Kim has a history of punishing failure with terrible retribution, including executing his own officials with anti-aircraft guns.
Kim has also killed hundreds of aides, including his uncle, for disloyalty.
North Korea’s military programme has been dogged by a series of malfunctions and technical failures that have coincided with the US stepping up its cyber war capabilities since 2014.
United States Cyber Command, known as Cybercom, was given a huge funding increase to create 27 “Combat Mission Teams” to attack enemy computers.
Other medium-range North Korean rockets crashed and burned earlier this month and in March.
Last year a Musudan missile fired to mark the anniversary of the birth of Kim’s grandfather Kim Il-sung blew up so soon after take-off it wrecked its launcher.
In November 2015 an attempt to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine ended in failure when the weapon disintegrated underwater.
The US military said yesterday’s launch took place at around dawn but the missile “blew up almost immediately”.
The Pentagon said it was not a long-range Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and was launched from land rather than ship or sub.
Trump’s naval task force in the region, led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, is equipped with rockets capable of intercepting missiles but they were not deployed.
The White House said US Vice President Mike Pence, who is in South Korea for talks about its northern neighbour’s continued aggression, was being fully briefed.
Former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind also speculated that the dud missile test could have been the result of a US cyber attack.
Sir Malcolm said: “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 tests and making them fail.
“If the Americans are able to do that that’s very encouraging.
“There have been previous examples when the Americans have used cyber methods.
“For example with Iran some years ago, they interrupted some of their nuclear enrichment programmes.
This will not lead to a war
By Richard Kemp, retired British Army Colonel
I DON’T think this will amount to anything at all. North Korea knows it cannot possibly survive an attack by them against either the US or its allies.
Its dictator would not last long, so I think there is no chance that they would initiate any serious military action.
The Americans are not interested in conflict with them, so they will not initiate anything.
I also believe the Chinese are interested in calming the situation down.
I think the actions of Trump in Syria and Afghanistan, if anything, make conflict with North Korea less likely.
Both the strikes he ordered were legitimate and proportionate, and sent a message around the world that you do not mess with America anymore.
They signalled that you may have been able to mess with America under Obama — but you cannot do the same with Trump or you will suffer for it.
That deterrent is far more likely to prevent a conflict than provoke it. So I would say don’t worry — there will not be a conflict between the US and North Korea.
North Korea state media shows four ballistic missiles fired into the sea in latest test launch
“There have also been quite a number of occasions when North Korean tests have failed.
“But don’t get too excited, they’ve also had quite a lot of successful tests.
“They are an advanced country when it comes to their nuclear weapons programme. That still remains a fact — a hard fact.”
Defence analyst Lance Gatling said North Korea is vulnerable to cyber attacks because its scientists are incapable of producing their own electronic hardware.
Mr Gatling also said it would be impossible for Kim’s weapons experts to pinpoint exactly why a test launch failed.
He said: “There are many things that can go wrong but it would be impossible to tell from outside if something had affected the internal guidance or control systems.
“It has been openly mentioned that there is a possibility that the North’s supply chain for components has been deliberately infected, and they might never know.”
BREAKING: North Korean Missile Launch Challenge To Trump Fails At Launch
Pence says North Korea’s latest ‘provocation’ shows the risk to military
Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that North Korea’s latest “provocation” underscored the risks faced by American and South Korean service members just hours after the country conducted a failed missile launch shortly before his arrival.
While Pence was flying over the Bering Sea, a North Korean missile exploded during launch on Sunday, U.S. and South Korean officials said.
The latest failed missile test represents a high-profile failure that came as a powerful U.S. aircraft supercarrier approaches the Korean Peninsula.
Pence landed in South Korea at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia and was quickly confronted with the stakes facing the U.S. as Pyongyang seeks to flex its muscles around the birth anniversary of the country’s late founder and advance the regime’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
After arriving in Seoul, Pence placed a wreath at Seoul National Cemetery and then worshipped with military personnel at an Easter church service at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan. During a fellowship meal after the services, he said the tensions on the Korean peninsula had put into sharp focus the importance of the joint U.S.-South Korean mission.
“This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face 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,” said Pence, who was introduced by Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea. “Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires the nation and inspires the world.”
Pence told the military members that he had spoken twice with President Donald Trump during the day.
Pence said that under Trump’s leadership, “our resolve has never been stronger, our commitment to this historic alliance with the courageous people of South Korea has never been stronger and with your help and God’s help, freedom will ever prevail on this peninsula.”
Trump has suggested that the U.S. will take a tougher stance against North Korea, telling reporters last week: “North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.” He has repeatedly said if China, North Korea’s dominant trading partner, is unwilling to do more to pressure the North, the U.S. might take the matter into its own hands.
Along with the deployment of the Naval aircraft carrier and other vessels into waters off the Korean Peninsula, thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were also deployed last month in their biggest-ever joint military exercises. That led North Korea to issue routine threats of attacks on its rivals if they show signs of aggression.
A White House foreign policy adviser told reporters aboard Air Force Two that the type of missile that North Korea tried to fire on Sunday was medium-range, and that it exploded about 4 to 5 seconds after it was launched.
According to the adviser, the test had been expected and the U.S. had good intelligence both before and after the launch. The adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s initial understanding of the launch, said there was no expected response from the Trump administration because there was no need for the U.S. to reinforce the failure.
The official said that had it been a nuclear test, “other actions would have been taken by the U.S.”
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two last year. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.
Despite North Korea’s provocations, U.S. officials have said that the U.S. doesn’t intend to use military force against North Korea in response to either a nuclear test or a missile launch.
After a two-month policy review, officials settled on a policy dubbed “maximum pressure and engagement,” U.S. officials said Friday. The administration’s immediate emphasis, the officials said, will be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing.
The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the results of the policy review and requested anonymity.
Pence will be tasked with explaining the policy in meetings with leaders in South Korea and Japan at the start of his trip, which will also include stops in Indonesia and Australia. He will also aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the U.S. will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression.
Pence’s first trip to South Korea carries personal meaning as well. He noted to the soldiers that his late father, Edward, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star on April 15, 1953 — 64 years to the day of the vice president’s departure for South Korea. Pence displays in his office his father’s Bronze Star and a photograph of his father receiving the honor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
BREAKING NEWS | Pence lands in South Korea amid rising tensions in North Korea
GEN. MCMASTER: ‘ALL OPTIONS’ ON THE TABLE FOR NORTH KOREA
McMaster described the problem as “coming to a head”
National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said Sunday that all options are on the table in regards to North Korea.
McMaster described the problem as “coming to a head” and said the US is still attempting to use other means to diffuse the situation.
“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,” McMaster said. “And so we’re working together with our allies and partners, and with the Chinese leadership, to develop a range of options.”
The National Security Council, the State Department, intelligence agencies and the Pentagon are currently providing options to the Trump administration in case North Korea’s pattern of destabilizing behavior continues.”
“In the coming weeks, months, I think there’s a great opportunity for all of us… to take action short of armed conflict so we can avoid the worst,” McMaster added.
McMaster’s comments follow a failed missile launch by the regime Sunday just hours after the country’s annual military parade.
While the reason for the failure remains uncertain, numerous reports suggest that the Trump administration may have used cyber attacks, part of a program first revealed by The New York Times last March, targeting missile launch systems.
Trump is currently working with China, South Korea, Japan and others to deter North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The Communist regime is believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear test as well.
WATCH: Trump Sends Powerful Message To Communist Leaders