First published Sept. 2017 on kiro7.com; a third ICBM was reported fired on Nov. 28. Read the most updated version here.
With North Korea testing missiles at an unprecedented rate, experts calculate the Seattle area could eventually be in range.
But is that a realistic worry for people on the West Coast? KIRO 7 News talked to scientists and government leaders, who explain below.
How did we get here?
Many West Coast residents feel unease with their homes being the closest in the United States to North Korea as tensions between the two countries build every week.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday again gave a doomsday warning to Kim Jong Un. And just last week, North Korea launched a missile that flew over the northern part of Japan.
2017 has been a rapid year of progress for North Korea, with its 22 missiles fired over 15 tests since February. That includes the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile, launched over the summer.
North Korea, known for being a propaganda machine, has claimed that a missile could carry a nuclear warhead. Whether that could actually happen, physicists do not yet know.
What’s the real threat to the Seattle area, if there is one?
After two ICBM launches, analysts calculated everything west of Chicago could be in range.
“The distance from North Korea to Seattle is about 5,100 miles (8,200 km),” said David Wright, a physicist and co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“We don’t know how heavy North Korea’s nuclear warheads are, and the weight affects how far a missile can carry them. However, most experts believe North Korea’s longest range missile, the Hwasong-14, may be able to carry a nuclear warhead as far as Seattle or will be able to in the near future.”
Missiles are highly inaccurate. Wright told KIRO 7 News that Kim would likely shoot at a city physically bigger than Seattle in an attempt of hitting a population center.