As North Korea rapidly completes assembling all the pieces of a long-range nuclear arsenal capable of striking America, Los Angeles stands out as an obvious target. Pyongyang wants to hold high-value U.S. assets at risk to deter efforts at removing the Kim dynasty from power, and there aren’t many places more important to America’s economy and culture than Los Angeles. A single 500 kiloton warhead that manages to escape interception by U.S. missile defenses could wipe out downtown L.A., obliterating both the Civic Center and the skyscrapers in the financial district. Heavy damage would extend in a three-mile radius outward from ground zero, and hundreds of fires would be kindled within a radius of six miles. Radiation and electromagnetic pulse would complete this tableau of utter devastation, causing upwards of a million casualties in the metropolitan area. To avoid the danger of such an outcome, Washington will need to increase its investment in missile defenses and seriously consider offensive military action to preempt the threat. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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