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Framing the issue

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North Korean missile capabilities

In response to toughened international sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and the on-going US-South Korea annual military exercise, North Korea has sent a series of threatening messages towards the US and its regional allies. Pyongyang blocked access for South Koreans to the Kaesong joint industrial complex, severed all political and military communication with the South and threatened missile and nuclear strikes against US military bases in Asia-Pacific and US mainland.

However, the limited capabilities of North Korea’s long-range missiles would prevent it from striking major targets in the mainland US. The closest major US city to North Korea is San Francisco which is over 2,500km beyond the outer range of North Korea’s most-advanced ballistic missile, the Taepodong 2. While the Nodong, Musudan and Taepodong 1 missiles could potentially strike US and allied assets in South Korea, Guam, and Japan, the reliability and accuracy of these missiles remain questionable.

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