Interactive map shows the limits of North Korea's missile threats

The last few weeks have been pretty intense in terms of saber rattling from Asia's "hermit kingdom" North Korea. From threats of nuclear war to recent directives to local diplomats to evacuate the country, things are once again heating up in the region, putting the U.S., South Korea, and even Japan on alert. But if these threats don't turn out to be merely political bluster, some are wondering: What are the chances that North Korea could successfully attack the U.S.? Thankfully, CNN's infographics department provides some answers.

Despite all the talk of nuclear tests, according to intelligence reports, North Korea still doesn't have the ability to arm a missile with a nuclear warhead. But that doesn't mean the country can't send other types of long-range missiles. According to CNN's special interactive strike zone map, North Korea could definitely hit South Korea and Japan with either a Scud D (within 400 miles) or Nodong-1 missile (within 620 miles).

There are a couple of other unconfirmed levels of possible strike capability that would allow the country to strike China, but since North Korea counts China as an ally, these aren't considered as important. However, things get interesting on the interactive graphic at the 4,160-mile mark, a range that, while not confirmed, would conceivably allow North Korea to use a Taepodong-2 missile to hit Australia, Guam and perhaps even Hawaii and Alaska.

Finally, things get really fascinating at the 6,200-mile mark, an untested and unconfirmed range that would allow the country to use a UNHA-3 missile to strike parts of the West Coast and Northwest U.S. So while the graphic, complete with ominous, ever-encroaching orange strike zone shading, may hint at a number of possibilities, its overall effect is to show that, at present, there's no reason to believe that North Korea can deliver on its threats to most of the world at large.

However, if you're in South Korea or Japan, well, you might have at least some cause for real concern. Nevertheless, despite Japan's very public nervousness, South Korea doesn't appear to be convinced that anything will happen anytime soon.


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