Is the North Korean Nuke Threat to the US Real?

Today North Korea announced it was conducting a third nuke test in defiance of UN punishment.  While the North Koreans claim they're simply trying to launch satellites, they also allowed that their ultimate goal was to have the ability to reach out and touch the United States.  Here's a quote from the government's official nuke commission (that refers to the nation by it's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea):

"We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people."

As with all wannabe nuclear powers some of the desire is about actually having the strike capability and some of it is about provoking your enemies.  North Korea is certainly illiciting a "you better not" response from the rest of the world, most vocally the U.S., but are they really moving toward having a viable nuclear weapons arsenal?

AP reports that North Korea is estimated to have stored up enough weaponized plutonium for four to eight bombs, according to scientist Siegfried Hecker, who visited the North's Nyongbyon nuclear complex in 2010.  But they gooned a rocket launch back in April, which both demonstrated they had a ways to go to realize the dream and embarrassed them to the degree that they seem to be redoubling their efforts.

In any case, the North Korean's made their motivation clear toward the end of their statement today:

"Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival."

Roger that, you Nutty Norks.  Cue the theme music . . .


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