by John R. Bolton • July 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm
A South Korean navy ship fires a missile during a drill aimed to counter North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test, on July 6, 2017 in East Sea, South Korea. (Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
American and South Korean officials have said for over a year that North Korea would be able, within a very short time, to miniaturize a nuclear device, mount it on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hit the continental United States. The country’s test launch Tuesday didn’t conclusively demonstrate that Pyongyang has reached this point, but Alaska and Hawaii might already be within range — and US forces in South Korea and Japan certainly are.
This isn’t the first time the North has marked the Fourth with fireworks. On July 4, 2006, a North Korean short-range missile barrage broke a seven-year moratorium, stemming from a 1998 Taepo-Dong missile launch that landed in the Pacific east of Japan. Tokyo responded angrily, leading Pyongyang to declare the moratorium (though it continued static-rocket testing), ironically gaining a propaganda victory.