North Korea diplomat in Iran: CIA attempted to kill leader

By Elizabeth Shim  |  May 19, 2017 at 1:40 PM
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May 19 (UPI) -- North Korea's ambassador to Iran accused the intelligence agencies of the United States and South Korea of attempting to launch a biochemical attack against Kim Jong Un.

The claim is being made at a time when speculation is rising over the purpose of CIA Director Mike Pompeo's recent visit to Seoul, where he may have met with a high-level defector, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

In a rare interview on Iranian television Thursday, North Korea's Kang Sam Hyon said the CIA and Seoul's National Intelligence Service targeted the North Korean leader beginning in June 2014, when U.S. and South Korean agents in Khabarovsk, Russia, recruited a North Korean national with the surname Kim.

The story is identical to an earlier claim from Pyongyang's state media.

Kang described the CIA and the NIS as the "root of world evil" and said authorities caught the suspect as he planned to place a bomb at Pyongyang's Kumsusan Palace of the Sun ahead of a military parade.

Sources outside North Korea have not substantiated the allegation, and the story follows accusations from Seoul intelligence that North Korea carried out the assassination of Kim's older half-brother Kim Jong Nam at an airport in Malaysia.

Last week, Pompeo had announced the creation of a Korea Mission Center at the CIA in order to improve intelligence on North Korea's weapons program, a move that may have angered the Kim regime.

Unidentified U.S. intelligence officials told the Washington Free Beacon Pompeo met with Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean diplomat who fled Pyongyang's Embassy in London in 2016.

Pompeo had inquired whether conditions were ripe for an insurrection against the dictatorship, according to the news site.

"I am sure that more defections of my colleagues will take place, since North Korea is already on a slippery slope," Thae had said in January.

In a separate statement, a CIA analyst said this week Iran and North Korea are working together to improve their respective missile programs, according to CNBC.

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