North Korea's failed missile test could have been caused by US cyber-attack, expert suggests

Rocket test came just before a key meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jingping 

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The Independent Online

The failure of a recent North Korean missile test could have been caused by the US, experts have suggested.

A Scud missile was fired yesterday from the eastern city of Simpo, ahead of a key meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jingping - but crashed into the Sea of Japan after nine minutes. 

Soon after, Mr Trump told the Japanese government that “all options were on the table” in dealing with North Korea. 

Tokyo based defence analyst Lance Gatling suggested Wednesday’s missile failure could have been the result of US intervention. 

Abe and Trump condemn North Korea's latest missile launch

The US has engaged in a programme to sabotage North Korean rocket tests since 2014, known as the ‘left of launch’ strategy.

It was introduced by Barack Obama in an attempt to stem North Korean progress in weapons testing. Cyber warfare and subterfuge is used to damage missile components and functionality.

"There are many things that can go wrong with a missile launch, but it would be impossible to tell from outside if something [US controlled] had affected the internal guidance or control systems", Mr Gatling told The Telegraph.

He added: “There is a possibility that the North's supply chain for components has been deliberately infected, and they might never know."

"It is quite possible that parts that they are importing are intentionally faulty because, through history, there have been similar attempts to sabotage an enemy's capabilities."

Despite the intense rhetoric with which other countries reacted to Wednesday’s test, the US drew attention for its meagre official response

A statement by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson simply said: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

However, Donald Trump has apparently been more direct behind closed doors. A White House statement on a phone call to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the President "made clear that the United States would continue to strengthen its ability to deter and defend itself and its allies with the full range of its military capabilities".

Earlier this week, Mr Trump vowed to “solve” the problem of North Korea with or without Chinese help. He is due to meet Chinese premier Xi Jingping at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Senior military commanders also backed up the President’s tough talk. 

"Up to this point I think it is fair to say ... that economic and diplomatic efforts have not supported the progress people have been anticipating and looking forward to," US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said in Tokyo, where he was meeting his Japanese counterparts.

Asked if there could be a military response to North Korea, Mr Swift replied: "That decision would be up to the president. The military was always an option."