A soldier salutes at a military show of strength staged by the North Korean government in central PyongyangDAMIR SAGOLJ/REUTERS

A missile test by North Korea that failed seconds after launch may have been sabotaged by a US cyber-attack, a former foreign secretary has said.

The US said a ballistic missile “blew up immediately” after firing near the port of Sinpo on the east coast early today.

“It could have failed because the system is not competent enough to make it work, but there is a very strong belief that the US through cyber methods has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail,” Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign and defence secretary, told the BBC.

The test was described as a provocation by the US vice-president Mike Pence, who is on a visit to South Korea amid…