The deadly assault on a South Korean warship couldn't have happened without the approval of North Korea's sickly leader, Kim Jong-Il, senior American officials said. They tell The New York Times that Kim ordered the attack to ease the succession of his youngest son. “We can’t say it is established fact,” said one official. “But there is very little doubt, based on what we know about the current state of the North Korean leadership and the military.” North Korea's bellicose behavior comes at a time when the U.S. is trying to shore up support against the totalitarian state. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Beijing this week, leading a "strategic dialogue" with Chinese officials. So far, American officials have yet to publicly link Kim to the March attack which killed 46 sailors.