The escalation of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea comes amid the new assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that North Korea has the capability of fitting a miniaturized nuclear warhead inside an intercontinental ballistic missile.
In the wake of newly issued sanctions by the United Nations, North Korea warned that it would take “thousands-fold” revenge against the U.S., leading to President Donald Trump to vow that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury.”
Here’s what you need to know about the situation.
What missile capability does North Korea have?
Most of North Korea’s military equipment dates back to the Cold War-era and was obtained from the Soviet Union and China. But the large size of its military poses a constant threat to South Korea, since 70 percent of its ground forces and half of its air and naval forces are stationed within 60 miles of the Demilitarized Zone that divides North Korea and South Korea.
North Korea has been working for the last decade to develop a nuclear weapons program and long-range ballistic missile program.
The product of that work was revealed in a July intercontinental ballistic missile test. At the time, the country’s ability to put a miniaturized nuclear warhead was unclear, but it was the distance the ICBM traveled — more than 3,400 miles — that prompted concerns.
“This is the first time, if the analysis is correct, that we’re seeing a North Korean weapon that can hit the United States. Not the mainland, but Alaska is very much part of the United States, and this is a very worrying development,” Steve Ganyard, a retired Marine Corps colonel, said on “Good Morning America” on July 5, one day after the first North Korean ICBM test.
How far can the missiles travel?
North Korea has been firing these missiles vertically to maximize their distance and to avoid flying over Japan and other countries in the region.
“The missile itself reached an apex of almost 1,700 miles, which means — had it been on a max-range trajectory — it could have reached Anchorage and wouldn’t have been far from reaching Seattle,” Ganyard said on July 4 on ABC News’ “World News Tonight.”
The country conducted a second ICBM test on July 28. That missile, which traveled 621 miles laterally and was airborne for 45 minutes, was the longest flight of a ballistic missile in North Korea’s history, according to the Pentagon.
Does North Korea have nuclear weapons?
Yes. North Korea has a small arsenal of nuclear weapons as…