North Korea: Oh Yeah? Our Missiles Can Hit Continental U.S.

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North Korea finally broke its silence on the U.S. agreement to allow South Korea to produce missiles capable of targeting all of North Korea and the announcement is vintage Pyongyang: You think that's impressive? Our long-range missiles are "within the scope of strike" of the continental U.S., Japan, Guam and South Korea. How do you like that?

The belligerent reply came from an unidentified National Defense Commission official on the state-run Korean Central News Agency, which is typically a little twitchy: a standing feature is the slogan "Let's Realize the Nation's Cherished Desire through a Great War for National Reunification," over an image of a bunch of soldiers, presumably ready to attack South Korea. Now KCNA reports the nukes are ready, too: according to a translation by Bloomberg News, North Korea “is prepared to counter nuclear attack and missile attack of the U.S., South Korea and all other following forces in kind.” The KCNA website is also showcasing this wonderful banner, which seems to be undergoing some formatting problems: 

All jokes aside, South Korea and the U.S. announced a major accord on Sunday allowing it to have ballistic missiles with a range of up to 500 miles in order to defend against the North's nuclear and missile threats. And while the North has trumpeted the capability of striking mainland America for years, it's becoming less of a far-fetched idea. 

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Sure, it has a pathetic track record when it comes to launching rockets (1998's Taepodong-1, 2006's Taepodong-2, 2012's Unha-3 all failed), but military analysts believe its making progress with each launch. “Even if they failed to put the satellites into orbit, these rocket tests mean that the North Koreans may have already acquired the missile range” that they are claiming, says Jeung Young-tae, a military analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification, speaking with The New York Times. In 2011, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the North was less than five years away from having an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting mainland America—a sobering reality amid all the belligerent chest-thumping. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.