Two U.S. officials told CNN that if the regime proceeds with a launch, the latest assessments are the most likely scenario is the launch of the so-called Musudan missile, which the U.S. believes could potentially hit Guam and perhaps Shemya Island in the outer reaches of Alaska’s Aleutian chain.
However, officials are strongly saying there are two other scenarios that are possible: North Korea could launch either its Kn-08 or Kn-14 mobile ballistic missiles which would have a longer range and could potentially hit the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
The Kn-14 is thought to be a more precise version of the Kn-08, and it is believed the regime showed it for the first time at a military parade in 2015, officials say.
But U.S. officials also caution the regime could still decide to do nothing. North Korea is well aware U.S. spy satellites keep constant watch and the moves could be part of a deception effort to persuade the U.S. the North is about to take action.
If the North Koreans proceed, it would be the first time North Korea has launched a longer range ballistic missile from a mobile launcher and the first time any of these three missiles have flown.
It’s not clear if the missiles would work and how precise the guidance systems might be, but the estimated ranges of these missiles cause growing concern. Shemya Island, for example, houses an early warning radar installation that monitors space and missile activities.