When it comes to nuclear war with North Korea, we know some important things, but we’re in the dark about others. We know the masterminds behind the country’s nuclear program and how our economy will suffer if North Korea attacks the United States. What we don’t know is what will push Kim Jong Un over the edge and prompt him to launch a nuke. Yet we have an idea of the allies, territories, and U.S. cities that would be hit first if North Korea attacks the United States with its growing nuclear arsenal.
We’ll start near Pyongyang, North Korea, and work our way out. Along the way, we’ll discuss an overlooked U.S. ally (page 4) and two important continental American cities (pages 11 and 12). We’re not saying these places are in imminent danger, only that North Korea’s Hwasong-14 rocket can reach them with its 10,000-kilometer (6,200-mile) range.
1. South Korea
Distance from Pyongyang: 121 miles
This is the most obvious target for North Korea. South Korea’s capital in Seoul is just 121 miles away, and the bad blood between the two countries dates back to the Korean War. South Korea is a major U.S. ally, so attacking there is roughly the same as a North Korea attack on the United States.
Next: A country the U.S. counts as an ally.
Distance from Pyongyang: 502 miles
Despite some combative rhetoric, President Donald Trump admires China to a certain degree and is committed to saving jobs there, so we count the country as an ally. The Chinese capital in Beijing is just 502 miles away across the Yellow Sea, which puts it in North Korea’s range. However, China is basically North Korea’s only ally, so we highly doubt a nuclear attack will happen.
Next: America’s longtime diplomatic friend is a target.
Distance from Pyongyang: 799 miles
Japan and the United States have been allies since the end of World War Two, so we’re sure Tokyo, at 799 miles from Pyongyang, is a target. Hitting the Japanese capital is akin to North Korea hitting the United States directly.
Next: A key strategic target for North Korea.
Distance from Pyongyang: 1,708 miles
If North Korea attacks the United States directly, you can bet the Philippines will be targeted, too. The U.S. has five military bases there, and destroying those bases would impact America’s ability to strike back.
Next: Setting foot on U.S. soil.
Distance from Pyongyang: 2,128 miles
Sometimes it’s hard to remember this fact, but Guam is part of the United States. Roughly 160,000 people live there, including 7,000 U.S. troops at a joint Navy and Air Force base. It’s so close to the Korean peninsula that there’s a good chance Guam will be a prime target if North Korea attacks the United States.
Next: It’s not a big city, but bombing it makes a point.
6. Anchorage, Alaska
Distance from Pyongyang: 3,724 miles
Anchorage is far from the biggest U.S. city with a little more than 400,000 people in the metro area, but bombing it would make a point. With an attack on Anchorage, North Korea would be able to claim it attacked a city in one of the 50 states.
Next: Just like Guam, but with a major difference.
Distance from Pyongyang: 4,589 miles
We visited Guam just a minute ago, and Honolulu is nearly identical but with one major difference. It’s an actual state rather than a territory.
The Army, Navy, and Air Force all have bases or barracks near Honolulu, and the Marine Corps has a base on the north side of Oahu. It’s a strategic target and one of the places in the bulls-eye if North Korea attacks the United States.
Next: A major U.S. ally under attack.
8. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Distance from Pyongyang: 5,038 miles
Canada and the United States are extremely close allies, but Vancouver is a major Canadian city threatened by North Korean missiles. It’s one of Canada’s most populous cities with nearly 2 million people and it’s a vital shipping port.
Next: Hitting this city would be a major blow to the energy industry.
9. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Distance from Pyongyang: 5,130 miles
It’s one of Canada’s biggest cities, but that’s not the only reason Edmonton is a target. Northern Alberta’s vast oil-heavy tar sands make Edmonton a major player in crude oil.
Next: One more major city north of the border.
10. Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Distance from Pyongyang: 5,241 miles
Calgary will be a major target if North Korea attacks the United States and its allies. The city houses major gas, oil, and energy companies that produce 87% of Canada’s oil and natural gas and 66% of its coal.
Next: Hitting this city will cripple the United States.
Distance from Pyongyang: 5,133 miles
Major companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, and money making giant Amazon call Seattle and its suburbs home. Sending a missile there would cripple America and it’s economy, which is why we’re sure it will be targeted if North Korea attacks the United States.
Next: Let’s spin the record again.
12. San Francisco
Distance from Pyongyang: 5,605 miles
Apple. Facebook. Google. Those are just a few major companies with headquarters near San Francisco, and all of them are American icons. Apple and Google (Alphabet) are two of the five most profitable companies in the U.S. Add in the fact San Francisco and nearby San Jose have tons of innovators and other smart people living there, and we’re sure this city is on the hit list if and when North Korea attacks the United States.
Next: We’re sure this city is a target.
13. Los Angeles
Distance from Pyongyang: 5,934 miles
If North Korea attacks the United States, it will trigger nuclear winter and a global disaster, and if it happens you can bet Los Angeles will be a target. As the largest city on the west coast, we’re sure it’s in the cross-hairs.
Next: There are bigger cities, but this would be an important target.
14. Las Vegas
Distance from Pyongyang: 5,960 miles
Other U.S. cities are larger than Las Vegas, but Sin City would still be an important target. Taking out the city with a reputation for being America’s playground would be a symbolic blow to America and the rest of the world.
Next: Three reasons this city is on the hit list.
15. San Diego
Distance from Pyongyang: 6,044 miles
We can think of at least three reasons San Diego makes the hit list if North Korea attacks the United States:
- It’s just within North Korea’s range.
- San Diego has a huge naval base with 46 ships.
- It’s a population center and the city adds new people every day.
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