Could NKorea hit its neighbors with nukes?

April 6, 2013 - 3:27 AM
North Korea Nuclear Threat

FILE - In this April 15, 2012, file photo, a North Korean vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. North Korea is probably years away from perfecting the technology to back up its bold threats of a pre-emptive strike on America. But some nuclear experts say it might have the know-how to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at South Korea and Japan, which host U.S. military bases. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea is probably years away from perfecting the technology to back up its bold threats of a pre-emptive strike on America. But some nuclear experts say it might have the know-how to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at South Korea and Japan.

David Albright at the Institute for Science and International Security assesses that the North could put a nuclear warhead on an 800-mile-range missile. But scientist Siegfried Hecker who has had unusual access there, says it is unlikely and nobody outside of a small elite would know.

The bottom line is that no one can say with certainty how much technological progress North Korea has made. Even if it has the capability, it's unlikely Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng) would use it because the retaliation would be devastating.