2013-04-15

Where North Korea's Maybe-Nuclear Missiles Could Land, Visualized

How worried should you be about North Korea? It probably depends on where you live, as these maps of the range of their various missiles show.

This spring, bellicose nation North Korea has gotten the world’s attention with its amped-up aggression toward the United States and South Korea. The government said that "powerful striking means" have been readied for action, and the U.S. and South Korean governments anticipate more missile tests soon. And the New York Times just reported "with 'moderate confidence,' that the country has learned how to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be delivered by a ballistic missile."

For South Korea, it’s a near throwback to the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the threat of a nuclear-armed neighbor inspired widespread panic. For the U.S., the threat feels a bit more distant and ambiguous: Are they posturing? Do they just want attention? Or do we need to take them seriously?

But maybe not so ambiguous. Check out these maps from CNN, which assess the range of six North Korean missiles, and visualized just where those weapons could strike should president Kim Jung-un authorize an attack.

The weapons vary from a range of just 700 kilometers--which could hit anywhere in South Korea and the southwest corner of the Japanese archipelago--to the UNHA-3, a yet-to-be-tested missile which has an estimated range of 10,000 kilometers, long enough to hit a large swath of the northwestern mainland U.S., including San Francisco and Seattle, and, of course, Hawaii and Alaska. Other mid-range missiles could hit plenty of U.S. military bases in the Pacific.

This is disturbing, of course, but commentators still don’t think the North Koreans could reliably deliver a nuclear warhead even if they have it. And, of course, intelligence about who has weapons of mass destruction has been wrong in the past. Remember Iraq?

[IMAGE: North Korea via Shutterstock]

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