- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2017

SEOUL –– North Korea’s main secret police agency on Friday accused U.S. and South Korean intelligence agents of a failed but elaborate plot to assassinate the isolated nation’s leader Kim Jong-un with “biochemical” and “nano poisonous substances.”

While Western security sources said the allegation should be treated with skepticism because Pyongyang has an unproven history of such accusations, a statement by North Korea’s Ministry of State Security claimed the plot was real and that Washington and Seoul had bribed a turncoat citizen of the nation to kill Mr. Kim.

The statement, which ran in North Korean state media, said the plot’s origins began in 2014 and that South Korean agents, in collusion with the CIA, gave more than $100,000 and satellite communications equipment to the North Korean citizen to orchestrate an attack on Mr. Kim during a public event using a delayed-action biochemical poison.

The allegation did not explicitly say the method by which the individual would expose the North Korean leader to the poison, but claimed that “lethal results would appear after six or twelve months” and asserted that “only the CIA” could produce the substance that would be used.

There was no immediate response from officials in Washington and Seoul. The CIA declined to comment, and officials at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service did not answer repeated phone calls, according to The Associated Press.

But the allegation is likely to escalate already soaring tension between Pyongyang and the Tump administration, which is pushing to revamp U.S. strategy toward North Korea amid growing concern over Mr. Kim’s accelerating pursuit of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that could threaten allies such as South Korea and Japan and reach the American homeland.

The North Korean claim on Friday said Pyongyang will be launching its own intelligence operations to counter U.S. and South Korean spying and assassination plots against Mr. Kim.

“[A] Korean-style anti-terrorist attack will be commenced from this moment to sweep away the intelligence and plot-breeding organizations of the U.S. imperialists and the puppet clique, the most mean and brutal hideous terrorist group in the world,” the Ministry of State Security statement said, according to the BBC.

The statement said that in June 2014, South Korean agents conspiring with the CIA had “ideologically and corrupted and bribed” a North Korean citizen who was employed at the time as a timber industry worker in the eastern Russian territory of Khabarovsk.

They “hatched a plot” to aid the individual in carrying out the assassination attempt upon returning home to North Korea from Russia, the statement said.

It did not describe how the alleged plot was uncovered or broken up. Nor did it give the full name of the North Korean suspect, identifying him only by his surname, Kim. It also didn’t say whether anyone else was in custody, but demanded that Washington and Seoul apologize and execute the intelligence agents involved in the “heinous” plot.

In a bizarre twist, the alleged plan to use a biochemical agent on a member of North Korea’s ruling family resembles the assassination earlier this year of Kim Jong Un’s exiled half brother at a Malaysian airport.

That attack, using the chemical war agent VX, was widely blamed on North Korea and led to calls in the United States to relist the North as a state sponsor of terrorism. North Korea denied involvement.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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