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North Korean Nuclear Threat

Nuclear launch

Case Overview

North Korea has reportedly acquired the technological capability to hit the west coast of North America with a nuclear weapon.

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The Situation

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) has for decades pursued its nuclear ambitions to the dismay of both Western countries and its neighbors in East Asia. It recently announced the successful launch of a satellite from a three-stage rocket, and U.S. and allied intelligence services conclude that North Korea now possesses the reentry technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the North American west coast. The director of national intelligence informs the president that the missile launch, combined with North Korea’s ongoing nuclear tests and its mastery of warhead miniaturization technology, means the country is capable of following through on past threats to fire a nuclear-armed missile against the United States. The president has called an NSC meeting to discuss how to respond to North Korea’s enhanced capabilities.





  • Security and diplomacy in Northeast Asia
  • U.S. alliance commitments in Asia
  • Legacy of the Cold War and the Korean War  
  • Chinese support of North Korea
  • Nuclear-related agreements and institutions

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