North Korean Missile Tests: Is the United States at Risk?

Lizzie Quinlivan

After the first North Korean missile test in 1984, tests have become more frequent, and have posed a threat to the United States on multiple occasions. Thus far in 2017, 17 missiles have been launched from North Korea, 10 of which traveled distances that sparked concerns in Pacific Islands.

On August 28, 2017, North Korean leaders announced that they had performed a missile test in hopes of hitting the United States territory of Guam. This missile traveled roughly 2,100 miles before plummeting into the Pacific Ocean. The missile’s trajectory made clear that a North Korean missile could potentially reach Guam.

The concern now is that North Korea might soon have the capacity to fire a missile that could reach Hawaii, or possibly make landfall on the west coast of the United States. In fact, many people in Hawaii are taking this potential threat seriously. On Wednesday, the University of Hawaii sent an email to the student body, instructing students on actions to take in the case of a missile strike. Hingham sophomore Riley Potter’s response to this is that “it is terrifying that a nuclear attack is in the realm of possibility, and that the school would have to provide those instructions”.

North Korea has also been conducting underground nuclear tests. The most recent test was last Friday, causing a 2.7 magnitude earthquake in the Punggye-ri region. In September, an underground test caused a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. Because of these earthquakes, the focus has shifted from underground nuclear tests to hydrogen bomb tests. North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un has considered the denotation of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean, which would release radioactive particles that could reach the west coast.

Although relations between North Korea and the United States remain tense, war has not been declared. President Trump has hinted in a recent press conference that if North Korea continues with their threats, the United States is prepared to fight back, with the help from its many allies.

If this happens, the United States military forces would greatly outnumber those of North Korea. Senior Aidan Pierce believes that “in order for North Korea to mitigate any crisis, they must go through China, as China is their only ally”.

With threats increasing weekly, war between North Korea and the United States is a possibility. Although this is no doubt unsettling, President Trump is confident that the United States and its allies are prepared to completely “destroy” North Korea.