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Quoting MIT professor Theodore Postol and a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) David Wright, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday that the rocket could fly even further as of over 10,000 kilometres, if the rocket is turned into a missile. "We estimate that it could have a range of 10,000-10,500 kilometers, allowing it to reach Alaska, Hawaii, and roughly half of the lower 48 states," they said in an article posted this week on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Originally posted by WestPoint23
It's all hypothetical and based on North Korean press statements. No North Korean long range missile test has been entirely successful or reached a splash down distance more than 2,000 miles. 10,000 Km works out roughly to 6,200 miles. It will take more than just empty words to demonstrate a reliable capability to fly those other unproven 4,200 miles.
A missile would have to travel roughly 4,500 miles to hit Hawaii and around 3,600 to hit mainland Alaska.
This graphic shows the maximum stated ranges (not proven) of some of North Korea's missiles. The red dot represents as far as they have gotten so far.
Relax folks, all bases are covered, so to speak.
Analysis of the Unha-2. Combining this information with results of analyses of past tests and computer modeling of the launcher allows us to develop a fairly detailed understanding of the Unha-2. While some uncertainties in missile parameters remain, calculations using this model of the launcher are consistent with all of the known data about the launch and show that it could have placed a satellite with a mass of a few hundred kilograms into orbit at about an altitude of 500 kilometers.
The Unha-2 launcher was expected to be a three-stage variant of the Taepodong-2 missile that North Korea began developing in the 1990s but has never successfully launched. We conclude from our analysis that the second and third stages of the launcher represent significantly more advanced technology than North Korea has launched in the past. We believe that its extremely unlikely that these technologies were indigenously produced by North Korea.
Pyongyang has released a video showing the launcher shortly before and during launch; these pictures allowed us to determine the relative sizes of the launcher's stages. Assuming the first-stage diameter is 2.4 meters, which is the diameter that has long been discussed for the first stage of the Taepodong-2 missile, fixes the rest of the dimensions. These are shown here PDF. Based on the dimensions of the stages, we can estimate their masses using estimates of the structure mass and the density of the propellant.
Overall, the launcher has a length of roughly 30 meters and a mass of 80-85 metric tons. We believe the first stage uses a cluster of four Nodong engines housed in a single missile casing and sharing a common fuel tank. The Nodong engine is essentially a scaled-up version of the engine used in the Soviet Scud-B missile. This engine is likely of Russian origin.
A couple of nukes would hurt, but would cause no real damage to the US as a whole.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a nonprofit science advocacy group based in the United States. The UCS membership includes many private citizens in addition to professional scientists. Emeritus Professor Kurt Gottfried, a former senior staffer at CERN, currently chairs the UCS Board of Directors.
The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded in 1969 by faculty and students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Scientists formed the organization to "initiate a critical and continuing examination of governmental policy in areas where science and technology are of actual or potential significance" and "devise means for turning research applications away from the present emphasis on military technology toward the solution of pressing environmental and social problems." The organization employs scientists, economists, engineers engaged in environmental and security issues, as well as executive and support staff.