nzherald: Days before President Donald Trump was set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, a mysterious incident in Spain threatened to derail the entire high-stakes nuclear summit.

In broad daylight, masked assailants infiltrated North Korea’s Embassy in Madrid, restrained the staff with rope, stole computers and mobile phones, and fled in two luxury vehicles, reports The Washington Post.

The group behind the late February operation is known as Cheollima Civil Defense, a secretive dissident organisation committed to overthrowing the Kim dynasty, people familiar with the planning and execution of the mission told The Washington Post.

The group’s alleged role in the attack has not previously been reported, and officials from the governments of North Korea, the United States, and Spain declined to comment on it.

But in recent days, rumors have swirled about the motivations behind the attack in the Spanish media, including a report in El Pais alleging that two of the masked assailants have ties to the CIA.

People familiar with the incident say the group did not act in coordination with any governments. American intelligence agencies would have been especially reluctant to do so given the mission’s sensitive timing and brazen nature. But the raid represents the most ambitious operation to date for an obscure organization that seeks to undermine the North Korean regime and encourage mass defections, they say.

This group is the first known resistance movement against North Korea, which makes its activities very newsworthy,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korea expert at Tufts University.

The identity of the assailants is a particularly sensitive topic given the delicate nature of Trump and Kim’s relationship.

Trump, who began his presidency by threatening the total annihilation of Kim and his country, has shifted to effusive praise for the young leader as he tries to convince him to give up his nuclear program. But in the aftermath of the two leader’s failed summit in Hanoi last month, tensions have reemerged, with North Korea’s vice foreign minister threatening on Friday to suspend the denuclearisation talks.

Any hint of U.S. involvement in an assault on a diplomatic compound could have derailed the talks, a prospect the CIA would likely be mindful of. “Infiltrating a North Korean embassy days before the nuclear summit would throw that all into jeopardy,” said Sue Mi Terry, a former Korea analyst at the CIA. “This is not something the CIA would undertake.”

Source: Published by nzherald

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