March 31, 2013
North Korea is sending lots of signals that it’s about to start World War III. While there is a real risk that some misstep or miscalculation might accidentally start a conflict, and while it is certainly possible that the country could repeat a smaller-scale attack like its November 2010 shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, there are some very good reasons to think that Pyongyang is bluffing about full-scale nuclear war.
Still, it’s worth asking: Could North Korea carry out its “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan,” apparently detailed on a chart in Kim Jong Un’s war room, in which it launches simultaneous missile attacks on Guam, Hawaii and major cities on the West and East coasts? What about its threatened “precision nuclear strikes” against the U.S.?
The short answer is, no, probably not. Let’s rule out the nuclear threat right now: while North Korea does have nuclear warheads, it does not appear to have mastered the technology to miniaturize them enough to put on top of a missile.