Why Canada is directly in the line of fire of any U.S. / North Korean missile conflict

A North Korean missile strike at the U.S. would likely fly directly over this country, and so far, most of Kim Jong Un’s rockets have fallen short of their targets.

The war of words between the United States and North Korea was ramped up this week.

Late last week North Korea conducted a nighttime rocket test that most reports suggest could be could be an intercontinental ballistic missile. That prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to declare that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

In response, Kim Jong Un threatened to attack Guam, a U.S. island territory in the South Pacific that houses Anderson Air Force Base and a population of roughly 150,000 people.

Let’s hope the war of words remains just that: words.

Canada is not a target for North Korea – quite the opposite, in fact. Also in the news today was some evidence of positive diplomacy between this country and the Hermit Kingdom. Canadian officials managed to negotiate the release of Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian citizen who had been serving a life sentence in that country.

Unfortunately, even if North Korea doesn’t aim missiles at Canada, they often don’t actually hit what they are aiming at. Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden spoke to MSNBC late last year about the threat from Kim Jong Un’s military – and its technical limitations.

    “I really do think that it is very likely by the end of Mr. Trump’s first term the North Koreans will be able to reach Seattle with a nuclear weapon onboard an indigenously produced intercontinental ballistic missile,” Hayden said. “Now, will it be a high-probability shot? They have technical issues, so probably not. But then again, what kind of odds are you comfortable with when it comes to Pyongyang?”

Those ‘technical issues’ could spell particularly bad news for Canada. That’s because the shortest distance for any missile to travel from North Korea to most major U.S. targets would carry them straight over this country.

And so far, most North Korean missile tests have fallen short of their targets.

Don’t worry, though. The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on route to Guam. This morning he reassured Americans that the country was more than prepared to defend itself and that they should have “no concerns” about a potential conflict, saying that there is “no imminent threat.”

Let’s hope.

Or perhaps the successful negotiation of the release of a Canadian citizen can be in indicator that this country could play a diplomatic role in toning down the rhetoric between two volatile world leaders.

Map image courtesy of heritage.org via Business Insider

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