The reported US cyber strikes that disrupted a series of North Korean missile tests shows the United States is "on the cutting edge" of such technology, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday.
The New York Times has reported that the administration of former President Barack Obama used cyber attacks, such as remotely manipulating data inside the North's missile systems, starting three years ago to disrupt test launches so as to delay the North's development of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Such attacks contributed to a number of failures in the North's tests of the intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, with the missile exploding on the launch pad or seconds after launch to record a failure rate of 88 percent, the report said.
"I have always felt that cyber is -- it's here to stay. It is one of the weapons that we have to deal with. And we have to be smart enough to use it, not only defensively, but offensively as well," Paneta said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"And I think, you know, the stories you are seeing indicate that the United States is on the cutting edge of that kind of technology," he said.
Paneta also said the US should be concerned about the North's "unpredictable" leader.
"There are a number of threats that are out there. We are dealing with a very dangerous world," he said. "I think the Pentagon feels that Russia is at the top of the list because of the nuclear threat, and I understand that. But we also have to worry about North Korea and the unpredictability of that leader. We have to worry about the Middle East and the chaos there."
Meanwhile, the newspaper also reported that top security officials of the new administration of President Donald Trump discussed a wide range of options on the North in recent meeting, including pre-emptive attacks and the reintroduction of US tactical nuclear weapons back to the South.
The paper also reported that Obama was so concerned about North Korea's nuclear and missile programs that he pushed aides for new approaches in his final few months in office, even declaring that he would have targeted the North Korean leadership and weapons sites if he thought it would work.
Obama also warned Trump that the North will be the most urgent problem he would confront, it said. (Yonhap)