Key point: North Korea's nuclear capabilities just keep improving and could cause real damage to the United States.
What would an actual nuclear exchange between the United States and North Korea look like? How many civilians would be killed? How much of Pyongyang or Los Angeles would be pulverized in a nuclear ash cloud? And how devastating would the nuclear fallout be to the suburbs in neighborhoods five, ten, or twenty, twenty miles away?
Notwithstanding President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about unleashing “fire and fury” on North Korea—rhetoric that has made lawmakers in Washington so nervous that some have been compelled to introduce bills prohibiting a preemptive nuclear strike—the administration understands that even a single nuke flying in either direction would be calamitous. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top civilian and military defense officials in the country, have tried to bring people down from the ledge by reminding everyone of how “horrific” such a war would be—even one that didn’t include nuclear weapons.
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