questionsdid you hear north korea put something in orbit?

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Q: What nations currently possess ICBMs?
A: This is somewhat tricky to answer. The United States, China, and Russia currently can hit anywhere on the globe with a nuclear missile and have well established space programs. Other nations with wholly native-built space access are: Israel, Iran, France, Japan, & India. These nations have either not demonstrated the type of rocket technology needed for a true ICBM, or have opened up their space programs so the world believes that they do not have an ICBM. However, the jump is short between space access and ICBM capability. Nations with nuclear capability & demonstrated space access may some day decide the weaponize their rocket programs.

Q: I thought Great Britain had nuclear missiles.
A: You're right, it does. However the range of their missiles is considered medium range, along with France, India, Pakistan, and others. These are not considered ICBMs because they are not capable of hitting any spot on the globe.

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Q: So can North Korea nuke the USA tomorrow?
A: No. North Korea is not currently capable of making a nuclear device small and light enough to fit on the tip of a rocket. It takes quite a bit to that work, and current North Korean capability is believed to be too poorly advanced to make a nuclear warhead. That's not to say that they can't drop a bomb, but that does mean that if North Korea were to try and attack the west coast of the USA with a missile, currently it would not be a nuclear attack.

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Good for them. I remember how difficult it was for us to do that 55 years ago. I think Color TVs should be the next thing to knock off their list of crap the rest of the world did decades ago.

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Maybe this is just my tendency to always give the benefit of the doubt (I'm a trusting soul, okay?) but I don't see why everyone's getting their panties into a twist. The US and other countries have been filling outer space up with stuff for years.

If N. Korea says it's a weather satellite, why can't we just assume that's what it is until we have proof, and not just speculation on what it could be? I mean, it could be a lot of things.

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Q: Why is the US's security community so concerned then, if they're still not really capable of attacking the US?
A: North Korea has a nasty habit of selling their technology. Remember that Israel bombed a site in Syria a few years ago that was starting the nuclear fuel refining process, and it is believed that the site was built by North Korea. The current Iranian medium-range ballistic missile is a North Korean rocket with a new paint job and name. The major concern is that North Korea hasn't kicked that habit, and will continue to sell its technology for hard currency, which it's chronically short of. If the relationship between Iran and North Korea is still strong, as we have every indication to believe, then it is not out of the realm of possibility to believe Iran will gain a long range attack capability, and as its nuclear program progresses, will gain a first strike capability against the whole of Eurasia.

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I hope it was their "supreme leader".

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@purplefeather: Good question. Weather satellites are typically in a geostationary orbit. The reason is the curvature of the earth can dramatically impact the useful range of data you can gather from your weather instruments, and you eliminate most of that by being at the equator, and get the maximum visibility of your target area as possible. As North Korea has no interest in monitoring world-wide weather, it would make sense for it to have a weather satellite in geostationary orbit at the equator below their country.

Their satellite is in what's called a polar orbit. This orbit is a very poor one to monitor weather from, and what's more, it's only in contact with the North Korean ground commanding facilities for a short part of its orbit. If it is actually a weather satellite, than it would show they don't know what they're talking about, or are monitoring Arctic and Antarctic weather along with the rest of the planet, and not N. Korean weather on every orbit.

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@purplefeather: That's not to say ultimately that it's impossible, it could be just a poor weather satellite, because every nation has to start somewhere... but it does mean that we'd start to doubt the truth of that claim.

This inclination means the satellite could be a sun-synchronous orbit they're going for, which gives good imaging, but imaging information is not the same as weather measurements and tends to be a military asset satellite instead of a civil weather satellite. It's small though so the amount of instrumentation on it would make it not a very good satellite in modern terms, and we'd question the capability of North Korea to be able to download information from the satellite given its limited land assets.

Either way, the North Korean news service story of what the satellite is just doesn't ring true, and the bigger issue is the further development of what is ultimately weapons technology from a relatively aggressively-postured nation.

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Also please keep in mind: this is a country which has a significant portion on their population on the brink of starvation. They cannot feed or house their own people. Their hospitals have no heat: to say anything of medications, diagnostic machinery, or laboratory supplies. Yet they spend resources on a "space program".

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@figgers3036: "the bigger issue is the further development of what is ultimately weapons technology from a relatively aggressively-postured nation."

I think that's the big thing. The North Korean government isn't the most stable. The fact that a non-stable government short on cash with a history of selling their technology has gained access to space is not something to be taken lightly. They can't launch a nuclear warhead...yet. That "yet" is the troubling part. We don't know how long it would take them to create a launchable nuclear weapon. And we don't know what governments or groups who can create a launchable nuclear weapon they might sell their rockets to.

Regional conventional wars are bad. Global conventional wars are worse. Any sort of nuclear strike trumps them all. And even a small scale nuclear strike in the wrong place (the middle east) would be bad for everyone on the planet.

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@wilfbrim: "They" that are spending, of whom you speak, would be the government. There is a lot that goes on there that I'm surprised isn't in normal global media. Guess it just doesn't make it out.

If you are a foreigner, there for any reason other than the fake tour they give to regular tourists, they give you a list of rules, and have government agents whose sole job is to follow you everywhere you go. I am good friends with a man who currently lives in China, but had previously lived in North Korea, for a short period of time.

The people don't have real internet, television is only broadcasting what the government wants them to see. The people are trained to believe that around 20 years ago there was a big nuclear war between the US and Russia which left the rest of the world in worse shape than North Korea is (so the majority of the people become scared to leave). There are other things that happen there that I won't repeat here. Basically, they don't need a space program, lol.

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The first images of it in orbit from US spy satellites have just surfaced:

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Why would N. Korea nuke the U.S.? That pretty much spells out the end for them and they know that.

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@chuchotrain:

I don't see that your logic follows.

Clearly, if they were being logical, they would spend money on food and humanitarian efforts for their people. Instead, they spend money on a space program, re-inventing that which has been done by others many many times already.

Given that they are not logical, I don't see why they would not attack the US.

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@chuchotrain: The problem with MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) is it assumes everyone acts rationally and in their own national interest. Unfortunately in North Korea, national interest and the Kim family's personal interest don't necessary match... Hence Juche philosophy and the perpetual humanitarian crisis in that country.