North Korea Might Have U.S. Within Missile Range   

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 23 2012 11:00 AM

North Korea Rocket Might Have Western United States in its Range

158352939
The wreckage of North Korea's rocket is seen at the Second Fleet Command's naval base on December 14, 2012 in Pyeongtaek, South Korea

Photo by Byeon Yeong-Wook/DongA Daily/Getty Images

North Korea’s rocket launch earlier this month seems to have demonstrated that the secretive country has the technology to fire a warhead more than 6,200 miles, according to South Korean officials who analyzed the debris from the first stage of the rocket. That would mean the U.S. West Coast could be in the range of a North Korean missile. But there’s no need to panic just yet because “there's no evidence that the North has the guidance systems or re-entry capability needed to mount an actual strike,” points out the BBC’s Charles Scanlon. And experts believe the country is still “years away from mastering the technology needed to miniaturize a nuclear bomb to mount on a missile,” notes Reuters.

The South Korean official who briefed journalists took pains to emphasize that the welding on the rocket was “crude” and the material used in the first stage of the rocket wouldn’t be used by countries with advanced space programs. But in a crucial detail, the design of the rocket suggests an “Iran connection,” reports the New York Times, noting that foreign-made components appear to contradict North Korea’s claims that the rocket was “indigenously produced 100 percent.” Regardless, the successful launch has been a huge boost to young leader Kim Jong-un. On Saturday, North Korea praised 101 scientists and technicians involved in the development of the rocket, awarding them a "hero's title," one of the most prestigious awards in the country.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Syria’s “Moderate” Rebels Are Realizing That U.S. Airstrikes Help Bashar al-Assad, Not Them
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:43 AM “I Didn’t Want to Build the Next Twitter for Cats” Search funds are the quiet, dependable, risk-averse sibling to the startup. 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.