This graphic shows why North Korea is a real threat to the US

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North Korea Launches Rocket, China Looks On

Over the weekend, North Korea earned further worldwide scorn after it tested a highly technical long-range rocket system.

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Pyongyang claimed that the test was part of a peaceful and benignspace program.

However, the rogue regimes' latest launch is almost assuredly a cover for testing a ballistic and nuclear weapons program.

Gordon Chang, writing for The Daily Beast, notes that the satellite system that North Korea claims to have launched over the weekend would weigh essentially as much as a nuclear warhead.

This satellite launch could thus dovetail with Pyongyang's claimed successful testing and detonation of a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.

Photos related to the launch:

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This graphic shows why North Korea is a real threat to the US
North Koreans watch an electronic screen announcing the launch of a satellite on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, at the Pyongyang Railway Station in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea on Sunday defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
North Koreans gather at the Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate a satellite launch Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. People in Pyongyang danced and watched fireworks the day after a rocket launch that has been strongly condemned by many countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Koreans watch a fireworks display from the Kim Il Sung Square as they gather to celebrate a satellite launch, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. People in Pyongyang danced and watched fireworks the day after a rocket launch that has been strongly condemned by many countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Koreans dance on the Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate a satellite launch Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. People in Pyongyang danced and watched fireworks the day after a rocket launch that has been strongly condemned by many countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Koreans gather at the Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate a satellite launch, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. People in Pyongyang danced and watched fireworks the day after a rocket launch that has been strongly condemned by many countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Koreans dance on the Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate a satellite launch Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. People in Pyongyang danced and watched fireworks the day after a rocket launch that has been strongly condemned by many countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
South Korean residents in Japan protest with a banner that reads: "we sternly denouce the missile launch" in front of headquarters of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, in Tokyo Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology and another "intolerable provocation." The U.N.'s most powerful body pledged to quickly adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Visitors watching the North side are seen through barbed-wire entanglements as they visit Imjingak near the border village of the Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology and another "intolerable provocation." The U.N.'s most powerful body pledged to quickly adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Koreans watch a TV news program with a file footage about North Korea's rocket launch at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. North Korea on Sunday defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. The letters on the screen read: "The U.N. Security Council will hold a meeting on Feb. 7." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean Army soldiers patrol along the barbed-wire fence in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology and another "intolerable provocation." The U.N.'s most powerful body pledged to quickly adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A Japanese police officer stands in front of the headquarters of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, in Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology and another "intolerable provocation." The U.N.'s most powerful body pledged to quickly adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
South Korean army soldiers close a gate in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology and another "intolerable provocation." The U.N.'s most powerful body pledged to quickly adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
In this Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 photo, a passer-by receives an extra newspaper reporting North Korea's rocket launch, in Tokyo. North Korea on Sunday defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
South Korean army soldiers watch a TV news program with a file footage about North Korea's rocket launch at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. North Korea on Sunday defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Visitors watch the North Korean side at the unification observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. For North Korea's propaganda machine, the long-range rocket launch Sunday carved a glorious trail of "fascinating vapor" through the clear blue sky. For South Korea's president, and other world leaders, it was a banned test of dangerous ballistic missile technology and yet another "intolerable provocation." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Samantha Power, left, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, listens as Motohide Yoshikawa, Japan's ambassador, makes comments to the media following a Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The council is meeting about North Korea's successful launch of a long-range missile. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A postman enters the headquarters of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan as a police officer stands guard its gate in Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology and another "intolerable provocation." The U.N.'s most powerful body pledged to quickly adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People watch a TV news reporting a rocket launch in North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. For North Korea's propaganda machine, the long-range rocket launch Sunday carved a glorious trail of "fascinating vapor" through the clear blue sky. For South Korea's president, and other world leaders, it was a banned test of dangerous ballistic missile technology and yet another "intolerable provocation." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Map locates where North Korea launched a rocket; 1c x 3 inches; 46.5 mm x 76 mm;
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Although there is still no indication that North Korea would be able to develop missile and nuclear warheads en masse, let alone successfully deploy them beyond tests, this latest rocket launch is alarming.

Firstly, the missile had a range of 10,000 kilometers. A missile with such a range could hypothetically target large portions of the continental United States.

In October, Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, assessed that North Korea has "the capability to reach the [US] homeland with a nuclear weapon from a rocket," The Guardian reported.

Gortney also warned in an April 2015 news conference that he was confident that, according to a Pentagon assessment, Pyongyang would be able to place miniaturized nuclear warheads on its KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile.

However, Gortney did qualify this assessment.

"Should one get airborne and come at us, I'm confident we would be able to knock it down,"he told reporters.

north korea infographic

Secondly, each launch that North Korea attempts furthers the regime's military capabilities. Chang notes that previously it took Pyongyang weeks to prepare, assemble, calibrate, and carry out a missile launch giving the US and neighboring nations plenty of time to prepare for the test.

The latest launch, however, only took a day.

"The Taepodong [missile] is still an easy target before launch, but once it reaches the edge of space it becomes fearsome," Chang writes.

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"It has the range to make a dent in more than half of the continental United States. If its warhead is nuclear and explodes high above the American homeland, an electromagnetic pulse could disable electronics across vast swatches of the country."

This is THAAD

In the face of such a challenge, the US has agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system to South Korea.

The missile system is able to knock enemy missiles out of the sky, hopefully limiting the utility of any long-range missiles in North Korea's arsenal.

The decision to deploy THAAD missiles has been an ongoing point of discussion between South Korea and the US since at least last October.

By the end of 2016, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is scheduled to deliver an additional 48 THAAD interceptors to the US military, bringing the total up to 155, according to a statement from MDA director Vice Admiral J.D. Syring before the House Armed Service Committee.

According to the US Missile Defense Agency, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of US, NATO, Russian, and Chinese control.

Other US partners around the globe are interested in purchasing THAAD.

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