Pollack said experts say the only one of these sites North Korea could potentially reach now is Hawaii, and that is a stretch. South Korean media reported that the North has a missile with a range of more than 5,000 miles, long enough to reach Honolulu. If that missile exists, it has not been tested successfully.
Lewis believe these sites are the real targets, because they all have a legitimate military purpose. Other analysts add Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, home to U.S. Strategic Command, and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the point of origin for nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers.
Still others think Kim might target Seattle and San Francisco, the two largest West Coast population centers that would be the easiest to reach from North Korea.
“It’s not like there is an answer written down in a little book,” Lewis said. “The North Koreans have a kind of articulated strategy, and they’ve shown some scary stuff, and we’re left to sort of piece together what all that means.”
Should we panic? No, says Pollack.
Look behind the rhetoric, he said, and when it comes to nuclear weapons, North Korea has threatened only retaliation, not a first strike.
“They’re more capable than we give them credit for,” Pollack said. “But they’re sane.”