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North Korea's Missiles Can Now Reach Washington DC...now what?

According to news reports today, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew longer than any previously launched by that nation; experts say this means the Hermit Kingdom now has the technological expertise to launch nuke-wielding missiles that can hit Washington, which is nearly 7000 miles from North Korea.

 

President Trump signaled that his Administration would "take care of it" and US Secretary of State Tillerson said there was still time for diplomacy, adding that: “The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea.”

 

If this all sounds familiar, it's because it is; a long line of US Presidents have been uncertain on how to handle this rogue nation. Some in Washington are increasingly calling for a military strike, though this sentiment is not shared in South Korea, where millions of its citizens are in direct range of North Korean artillery batteries. Could a US first strike take out all the nukes and most of the North Korean artillery? Former Secretary of State Kerry said recently that it is "in the public domain, not classified" that the US "does not know where all the North Korean nuclear weapons are hidden."

 

As for conventional artillery, US air and cruise missile strikes could reduce the number of operational weapons, but it is rare for first strikes to completely wipe out an enemy's stock of artillery. Thus any first strike would result in a North Korean response that would kill tens of thousands of South Korean civilians. At the same time, however, no US government can stand idly by while a dangerous, uncertain adversary threatens an attack on the US mainland. So the issue remains difficult, and the only certainty in the near term is that North Korea will keep perfecting its weapons of mass destruction.

 

Your take? What must the US government do here? And is China part of the solution, or part of the problem?