Pentagon Embraces Strategy of Hacking Nuke Missiles Before Launch

Foreign policy experts see the new policy as a direct response to the North Korean threat.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon has approved a controversial strategy for neutralizing enemy nuclear missiles before they launch, reports The Daily Beast.

According to an internal policy document from May 2017, this policy appears to include performing pre-emptive cyberattacks against missile control systems or components. The Department of Defense document does not specify an adversary, but experts told The Daily Beast that they believe it is aimed at North Korea and may be a fallback option for the Trump administration if the proposed June summit with Kim Jong Un fails to result in the denuclearization of the country.

The document, which was obtained by The Daily Beast and is unclassified, says that a pre-conflict undermining of an adversary’s launch operations would be legal against an “imminent missile attack,” without defining “imminent.” It also cites “non-kinetic options” for destroying missiles that would fall short of a “use of force” under the United Nations charter.

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