The U.S. and South Korea are considering military options to deter North Korea after the isolated nation successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that could have potentially reached the American mainland.
On July 28, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's regime launched an ICBM that flew for 45 minutes, traveling about 620 miles before landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone, near the island of Hokkaido.
Co-director David Wright of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists that the missile could have reached the U.S. if it were directed to do so.
"Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago appear to be well within range of this missile, and that Boston and New York may be just within range," Wright told The Washington Post.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, met with the chairman of the South Korean Joint Chief of Staff to discuss their countries' options following the North Korean launch. Dunford's spokesperson, Capt. Greg Hicks, stated that military options were on the table.
"During the call Dunford and Harris expressed the ironclad commitment to the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance," Hicks told Reuters. "The three leaders also discussed military response options."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for negotiations for the U.S. to deploy more Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missiles to the Korean Peninsula and for the U.N. Security Council to impose more sanctions on the Kim regime.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe voiced alarm over the ICBM launch and convened with his National Security Council.
"As a result of their launches of ICBM-level missiles, this clearly shows the threat to our nation's safety level is severe and real," Abe said, according to The Independent.
The Department of Defense's Defense Intelligence Agency has estimated that North Korea could be able to fire nuclear missiles with a global reach by 2018.
Arms Control Association director Kelsey Davenport has asserted that the U.S. must meet with North Korean leaders without preconditions if they hope to stall the isolated nation's ICBM program.
"A deployed North Korean ICBM is not inevitable, but it will be if policymakers in Washington keep putting the cart before the horse and demanding Pyongyang meet onerous preconditions to begin talks," Davenport said.
There has been growing internal support within South Korea to create its own nuclear program as North Korea continues to broaden its own capability, McClatchy DC Bureau reports.
Security expert Daniel Pinkston of Troy University in Seoul has asserted that this would only escalate the threat that North Korea poses to its southern neighbor.
"North Korea would have an incentive to strike first," Pinkston warned. "South Korea would be in a very vulnerable position."