North Korea's Latest Unbelievable Threat: Bombing Austin, Texas

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 29 2013 2:16 PM

Kim Jong-Un's Latest Unbelievable Threat: Bombing Austin, Texas

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You know the rule by now: If the headline asks the question, the story most likely provides the less exciting/sensational/terrifying (in this case, definitely the third) answer. From the very Telegraph article that Drudge links to:

Despite the increasingly belligerent rhetoric and new images emerging from the North Korean regime, analysts believe its missiles are not capable of striking targets as far away as the US mainland and are not, as yet, capable of delivering a nuclear payload.
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North Korea's state-media announced earlier today that Kim Jong-un has ordered his missile units on standby to strike the United States and South Korea. The bluster was accompanied by a photo containing a not-so-secret (or believable) message: a chart over Kim Jong-un's shoulder showing a "U.S. mainland strike plan." NK News took a closer look at the chart and discovered what appears to be the reclusive nation's public wish list: Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Southern California (Los Angeles or possibly San Diego), and Austin, Texas. The first three make sense given geography and politics; no one seems to have any clue about how that last one made it on.

Given how unpredictable Kim Jong-un has already proved, the latest threat isn't entirely being brushed off by the international community. Still, the Pentagon doesn't appear to be very worried. "The United States is fully capable of defending itself and our allies,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson told reporters in Washington today. "North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric and threats follow a pattern designed to raise tensions and intimidate others."

Foreign Policy's John Hudson does a good job of documenting that pattern, with a a helpful list of all the threats North Korea has made since the internatonal community imposed its latest sanctions after Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.