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US Trump administration inherits Obama cyberwar against North Korea

As president, Barack Obama undertook a series of cyberattacks against North Korea's missile program, US media report. After the US implemented the strategy, several launches failed or the projectiles veered off course.

A cyberwar that Barack Obama launched against North Korea's missile program has failed to make significant gains over three years, "The New York Times" reports. The program did boast initial successes, with several of North Korea's rockets and missiles failing soon after launch.

Obama warned his successor, Donald Trump, that North Korea's nuclear program would likely prove his biggest international challenge, and the new US president's advisershave begun weighing their options - including continuing the cyberattacks. "The White House is also looking at pre-emptive military strike options," an administration official told the Times. To compile its report, the newspaper cited officials from the current and previous administrations and "extensive but obscure public records."

Obama began the cyberattacks after concluding that anti-missile systems alone would not protect the United States and choosing instead to target projectiles before their test launches, The New York Times reported. National security officials had requested that the media not release details, according to the newspaper.

'It won't happen'

In January, dictator Kim Jong Un boasted that North Korea had reached the "final stages" of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile in an apparent attempt to pressure the incoming US president. However, at the time, Trump appeared to have had the last word, firing the verbal missile "It won't happen" on Twitter, his preferred social medium.

On February 12, North Korea apparently fired a modified intermediate-range Musudan missile, which landed in the ocean. The Musudan has a range of 2,500-4,000 kilometers (1,550-2,500 miles), meaning that it could threaten both Japan and US bases on Guam.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the test "absolutely intolerable." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US would use the full range of its arsenal, including nuclear weapons, to defend its allies Japan and South Korea against the North.

The United Nations tightened sanctions on North Korea in November, two months after the country carried out its fifth nuclear test, in a bid to prevent it from developing atomic weapons.

mkg/jm (AFP, dpa)

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