We’re going to stop those missiles, stop them like you’ve never seen before.

It’s going to be beautiful, and the Fake News Media probably won’t even report on it.

Hillary’s emails. Obama. Failing healthcare. SAD.

I imagine Donald Trump’s response to North Korea firing off intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, would go something like that above.

The truth is somewhat different, though.Quartz spoke to a few Pyongyang experts to help explain what we know, and don’t know, about North Korea’s capacity to attack the US.

A few pretty important questions answered:

Could North Korea hit the US with an ICBM?

…a confidential report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said North Korea already has the ability to attach a miniature nuclear warhead to those missiles.

[Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute] cautions that “the Defense [sic] Intelligence Agency estimates are usually fairly extreme in their views in terms of what other countries can do.” However, he added, “whether [North Korea] can put a warhead on top of an ICBM today or tomorrow or the week after or the month after, the point is that this train is coming down the tracks. We need to think about that and be ready for it.”

What happens if North Korea launches a first strike at the US?

If North Korea were to launch a missile, the US could spot it and work out where it’s heading, says Wit, but intercepting it would be much harder. America has three lines of defensive rockets that could take out an ICBM, in increasing order of distance from North Korea, according to ABC News: in south Korea, on US Navy ships in East Asia, and in Alaska and California. They’re not a guaranteed defense, however.

Jon Wolfsthal, scholar of nuclear policy at Carnegie, likens missile defense to “trying to hit a bullet with a bullet.” Four interceptor missiles have to attack each ICBM to be reasonably sure of shooting it down. “They have a lower reliability than the 1998 Acura in your driveway,” he said.

[Tom Collina, director of policy at an organisation focused on reducing nuclear proliferation] echoed Wolfsthal’s assessment, saying defense systems are largely symbolic. “No American president could depend on that as plan A,” he said. “They make us feel good. But in the end of the day, they won’t work.”

That’s going to help everyone sleep a little easier.

How likely is North Korea to attack the US?

Unlikely, experts believe, because the regime isn’t suicidal. “If North Korea attacks the United States, there will be no North Korea anymore… The United States would respond with overwhelming force,” Collina said.

Yet Wit cautioned that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric is dangerous. “Words have consequences. Particularly words spoken by the president of the United States,” he said. “There are no diplomatic relations. We don’t have regular meetings with them. So [North Korea] has to rely on what’s said publicly and figure out whether that’s serious or not.”

Collina echoes that view. “We have these two inexperienced, bombastic leaders that are saying things that they shouldn’t say and could stumble into a nuclear catastrophe,” he said. “Now that’s the biggest danger, not that North Korea will do something by intent.”

In the past it was always North Korea and their irrational, bombastic, small-man syndrome suffering leaders against an American leader capable of thinking before he speaks.

Alas, that is no more. In times like these I think this tweet just about sums it up:

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