Red alert over bizarre North Korean plan to attack G20 summit with balloons filled chemical weapons

By James Chapman|MailOnline

A bizarre plot by North Korea to attack the G20 summit using balloons filled with biological or chemical weapons emerged last night.

The claim that ageing tyrant Kim Jong-Il will attempt to disrupt the gathering – attended by David Cameron and other world leaders – has been taken seriously by Western diplomats.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked China, North Korea’s chief ally, to rein in Kim. And security is now at red alert for the conference in the South Korean capital Seoul.

Kim Jong-Un, Kim’s third son and expected successor, is thought to have been ordered to find ways to overshadow the meeting.

His father’s secretive regime has acted aggressively in the past at times of internal change, external tension or when the rival South is the focus of world attention.

In 1987, North Korean agents planted a bomb on a South Korean plane, killing all 115 people on board, a year before Seoul hosted the Olympics.

In 1983, they carried out a bombing during a trip to Burma by the South Korean president, Chun Doo-hwan.

South Korean websites quoted claims that the North had considered sending 20 different deadly biochemical weapons attached to balloons and parachutes across the border.

The campaign is said to be led by General Kim Kyok-Sik, who commands the North’s frontline corps, at the orders of Kim’s heir apparent.

Other possibilities were said to include sending floating mines into South Korean waters.

Although China’s presence at the summit is expected to deter the young pretender from launching a direct attack, diplomatic sources said some show of strength was possible.

Among the most likely are a symbolic incursion into South Korean territorial waters or testing a missile in nearby airspace.

Seoul, which is close to the border between the two countries, has seen the deployment of 50,000 extra police officers.

‘There has been speculation that North Korea would try to disrupt the summit,’ said one diplomatic source.

‘They are in the mindset of a succession and the leadership psychology is such that they may want to demonstrate that it is business as usual, or even better than business as usual.

‘They have a defensive, slightly paranoid mindset.’

In Seoul yesterday, Mr Cameron raised the issue of the nuclear threat from North Korea in talks with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. It was also discussed in talks between the Prime Minister and president Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea.

Mr Cameron yesterday defended himself against claims that he had appointed ‘vanity staff’.

He said that Andy Parsons, who has been handed a £35,000 a year job, was not his personal photographer and would work across the whole of Whitehall.

The appointment would save public money, he said, because less outside work would be commissioned than under the last government.