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Where Could a Nuclear Missile from North Korea Strike the U.S.?
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3 Apr 2013 07:20 PM EST

-by Anthony Bell, Contributing Writer; Image: Depicted here is a map of the possible range of a missile from North Korea. (Image Source: Great Circle Mapper)

With North Korea’s recent threat of a nuclear attack on the United States, many citizens of the world are left wondering if the DPRK could actually follow through with the threat and successfully strike U.S. soil with a missile.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel believes that there is “real and clear danger” from North Korea, while other analysts believe that “its missiles are not capable of striking targets as far away as the U.S. mainland,” according to the Telegraph.

In 2009, Gizmodo writer Jason Chen decided to break down the possibility of an attack by North Korea by mapping out the distance from Pyongyang that a missile could feasibly travel, as an example. In his calculations, he used as examples the Musudan missile, with a range of 2,500 to 4,000 kilometers, and the Taepodong-2 long0range three-stage missile, with a maximum range of 10,000 kilometers but a more likely range of 4,500 kilometers.

While his first map showed that Hawaii and Alaska were likely targets from a long-range missile, he neglected to calculate the fact that the earth was, in fact, a sphere—meaning that a flat map simply could not display an accurate range.

When mapped out on Earth and calculating in its spherical shape, thanks to the Great Circle Mapper, it can be seen that the shorter range missile still would not come close to U.S. soil, though most of Eastern Asia would be at risk. With the 10,000 kilometer circle, however, Alaska, Australia, almost all of Canada and a good portion of the northwestern U.S. are all potentially at risk.

Remember, however, that according to the calculations, the line drawn at the 10,000 km range is, theoretically, the maximum distance. A more realistic distance, according to Chen, would be 4,500 km, which still only encompasses Eastern Asia.

So should citizens be worried? The short answer is, of course, yes—the U.S. should always be wary of threats. Still, we here at AllMediaNY are no experts on war or missiles, so do not let these calculations cause panic. Though North Korea’s aggressive actions are escalating quickly, Washington seems to be responding just as quickly to their advances.

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