Can North Korea hit Los Angeles with a nuclear missile?
Yes, theoretically. Its tests have been inconclusive and perhaps even unimpressive so far, but the United States government isn't taking any chances.
Today Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that 14 interceptor missiles would be added to our West Coast defense system in response to the country's threats:
The 14 would join 30 interceptors already in place and ready to defend the mainland against nuclear missile threats, Hagel announced during an afternoon news conference.
However, the 14 wouldn't be fully in place until 2017, he said:
The American people should be assured that our interceptors are effective. The reason we're advancing our program here for homeland security is to not take any chances, to stay ahead of the threat.
The interceptors would include next-generation "CE2" missiles, which would join the current crop of CE1s, Pentagon officials said.
"Intercept testing" would happen in the following months, they said.
Some of the missiles would join others in Alaska, but one official told the press that "we're still looking at sites."
An official said the interceptors have the capability to protect "the entire United States."
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Asked if North Korea could reach the mainland with a missile, one official said:
We believe the KN-08 [missile] probably does have the range to reach the United States.
On March 7 the North Korean government threatened to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against America following new U.N. sanctions against the isolated nation. It also threatened to attack South Korea.