Could North Korea Nuke the USA?

Given the rather bizzare an unstable regime there - does NK have the capability to deliver a missile to the USA or are their missiles too short range? Could the US stop two or three missiles flying towards them in time?

Missile to the US? No. Well, not yet, at any rate. They would need ICBMs for that, which they certainly don’t have. Not even India and Pakistan can launch warheads at those ranges (they don’t need to). China is getting there. If they wanted to nuke the US, they would need to use an alternate delivery means.

As for us stopping them, that all depends on how alert we are. Once it enters the ballistic phase, no. The best chance is to hit it with conventional weapons as it launches (or in the boost phase), or with some sort of low orbital platform when it reaches the apex of it’s flight.

More than likely, chunks of North Korea would no longer exist before their missiles hit, though. I’d bet dollars to donuts that we have a few SLBMs sitting around their coast. Welcome back, deterrence measures.

I doubt that North Korea could nuke the US right now, but I suspect they could get me. Why can’t we all just get along?

North Korea has for the last several years been developing the Taepo-Dong II missile with an estimated range of about 6,000 km. (3700 mi.). That would put parts of Alaska and Hawaii just within range. Nobody seems to be sure just how close they are to being able to use it.

J.Dunnigan said that they will be ready to test the Taepo-Dong II in a month or two.
When will our psuedo-SDI be up? :wink:

Well there are the US forces in South Korea that are well within range. That might be splitting too many hairs though.

There are US troops in Japan too.

Yeah, right. All we have to do is convince North Korea to install little targeting beacons on the nose cones of all their missles…



errrr… make that “missiles” :frowning:

anyone know what russia is still capable of?

Isnt this a little defeatist?

I mean, the Patriot worked sufficiently well 12 years ago in Israel and Saudi Arabia. Not perfect, but well.

Isnt it possible for us to have developed real technology to intercept these missiles? Hasnt this in reality, been tested already with some success?


Could NK launch a nuclear tipped missile from a ship, which would hit mainland US?

They are still disarming. They don’t have nearly the capacity they did 20 years ago, but they still have some. The Soviet-American disarming was designed to be slow and not complete.

It really didn’t work all that well. There was one confirmed shoot down of a SCUD, and several that may have been. The Iraqis were mainly just bad at keeping their missiles functional and targetting accurately. The Patriot’s effect was largely propaganda (that was wildly successful).

We have developed the system into something much more effective these days, though.

It is important to remember that any system like that, though, has virtually no chance of intercepting a ICBM, unless it catches it on liftoff. Once it starts coming down, there is almost zero chance of intercepting it successfully.

Not really, no. Hence my comment.

When they were publicizing all the tests that were being performed last year, one of the little points that they tried to keep as low key as posisble was that the test missiles being shot down all had little radio beacons attached to them to help the anti-missile missiles find them.

I wasn’t being a naysayer, and I hope that someday they are able to come up with a working system. But right now, the only way it would work is if, as I said, North Korea agreed to attach homing beacons to all their missiles.


Do not be so certain that they can’t hit the United States. We’re in danger of forgetting that “impossible” feats are just what an adversary strives to achieve in war.

Examples: The Doolittle Raid, the Black Buck missions, and the exploits of the 10th Light Flotilla.

None of the above have anything to do with nuking the United States, but they have everything to do with achieving tactical (and sometimes strategic) surprise by showing up with more firepower at the right place than your enemy expected you to have. If the North Koreans haven’t considered the possibility of launching from an inconspicuous merchant ship or from a quickly set up sea-based platform somewhere in the far-north Pacific, well, let’s hope they don’t read this.

The Patriot’s stunk it up pretty badly against SCUDs but it really isn’t the Patriot’s fault…it wasn’t meant to be a missile interceptro but rather an antiaircraft missile. It’s ‘success’ was indeed propaganda. As luck would have it SCUDs would naturally start falling apart in their terminal dive to the ground so it would look as if Patriot missiles were doing their job. Also fortunately SCUDs are decidedly inaccurate anyway also lending credence to the notion that Patriots were getting the job done.

For SCUDs all isn’t lost however. The new Arrow Missile System is now deployed and is meant to specifically knock down tactical ballistic missiles such as the SCUD. I underlined tactical to note that this system does not help you at all against strategic ballistic missiles such as what would be needed to get a missile across an ocean.

Here’s a great quote I found at this site:



To be more specific, the Russians are still capable of nuking the US into oblivion, just not so many times over as before. Which is what syntax was asking, I think.

As for North Korea. They don’t have any missile systems capable of hitting the mainland US. Parts of Alaska and Hawaii will be vulnerable when the Taepo-Dong II has all the kinks worked out, which will probably be within the year.

Conceivably, they could put some short range missiles on a ship and sail close to the coast, but I don’t think they have any ships capable of launching short-range missiles with the capacity for nuclear warheads - but I could be wrong. And I don’t think there’s a chance in hell a NK bomber or attack jet could get close enough to launch a nuclear missile.

Their best bet would be to smuggle it in somehow, but I don’t think that would be easy.

Yea, that’s the one I was refering to. Thanks for the more detailed information, W-a-M (if I may be so informal :-).

They were indeed used against SCUDs as more of a stopgap measure… it would be interesting to know if they knowingly used them as propaganda (as in, they knew it wouldn’t work), or someone just came up with “the save” by noticing it and publishing it after the fact.

Well, I was considering Russia’s general preparedness for such an attack. They have the warheads and missiles, but they’ve deactivated a lot of their bases. They could still probably make the US a wasteland if they wanted to, but not on any scale approaching the Cold War levels.

I think the consquences of N.Korea nuking Tokyo would be very similar to them nuking the US mainland.