North Korea Nukes Can Hit Most Of Continental U.S., Say Military Officials

North Korean nuclear warheads can reach “most of” the continental United States, U.S. officials said Monday.

As Reuters reports, unnamed officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that North Korea’s latest round of missile tests, including one which landed with 200 miles or so of the coast of Japan, demonstrate that the secretive regime is capable of launching a missile that could theoretically hit the Lower 48.

Officially, according to Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis, the most recent round of missile tests confirms that the country has missiles capable of flying 3,420 miles – uncomfortably close to Honolulu, and closer still to Anchorage.

“The specifics of our assessment are classified for reasons I hope you understand.”

However, according to the analysts who spoke to Reuters, the most recently-launched missiles have “greater height, range, and power” than previous missiles. In theory, say those analysts, these missiles could reach the West Coast or even deeper into the mainland United States.

Of course, whether or not those missiles, or any North Korean missiles, are capable of delivering a nuclear payload remains anybody’s guess. According to a July BBC News report, North Korea does have nuclear weapons. But, despite Kim Jong-Un’s claims to the contrary, it doesn’t appear capable of delivering them to a target via a ballistic missile. Yet.

So why is North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un so adamant about developing a nuclear weapons program?

According to Kim himself, those missile tests are a “stern warning” to the United States that, should the West decide to attack North Korea, the USA would face nuclear annihilation. No one (except possibly Kim himself) believes that’s true. The real reason, say the analysts speaking to Reuters, is that Kim wants to “gain legitimacy” and deter the West from attacking his country. Any North Korean attack on the US, or China, Japan, or another Western ally, would immediately be “suicidal.”

The Pentagon, for its part, is taking the threat seriously. Davis confirmed that the US is prepared to respond to a North Korean attack, although he declined to give specifics.

“The fact of the matter is we take it seriously and we are prepared to defend against [it].”

Do you believe North Korea is planning to launch a nuclear attack against the United States? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Featured Image by Ahn Young-joon, File/AP]