South Korean officials with an eye toward keeping the US engaged in their peninsula are warning that North Korea might conceivably be able to fire a rocket with a range of 10,000 km, enough to hit the west coast of the United States.
At least maybe. The 10,000 km range is a rough estimate based on a marginally successful satellite launch, but ignores the question of whether they have the technology to build a missile that could survive reentry, whether they could fire accurately, and whether they could even figure out how to put a warhead on it.
Officials conceded that the welding on the first stage of the rocket, the only part they’ve recovered yet, looks exceedingly crude considering it was meant to launch into space, and they are pretty sure everything was done by hand.
Putting satellites in orbit is a first step toward developing ICBMs, which is why the international community is freaking out over the launch. Yet the indicators are that North Korea can barely do that, and not even very reliably, and it seems a foregone conclusion that they would be many, many years away from credible long-range missiles.
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