Question: Can a North Korean missile hit the U.S.?
Probably. South Korea reported in a 2008 white paper that North Korea tested medium-range ballistic missiles that can travel about 1,900 miles, putting the U.S. territory of Guam within reach. In April 2009, North Korea launched a Taepodong-2 long-range missile, claiming that the rocket was deploying a communications satellite but analysis showed that nothing entered orbit after the ballistic missile dropped into the Pacific Ocean some 2,400 miles from the launch site. If it maxed out at its intended range of more than 4,000 miles, such a missile could strike Alaska or Hawaii.
One of the more immediate concerns is North Korea playing with fire with U.S. ally Japan. The April missile test soared through Japanese airspace, and Pyongyang angrily warned beforehand that any attempts by the Japanese to shoot down the rocket would be an "act of war."
"They're launching a missile and calling it a 'rocket,'" Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso reportedly said. "Nowhere else in the world will you find a country that will launch a test missile squarely over someone else's country."