North Korea has continued its saber-rattling this week, and news reports suggest the communist nation is preparing a missile launch.

North Korea’s threats should not be taken lightly. The Heritage Foundation’s Michaela Dodge tells us that Pyongyang’s missile program pose a threat to the United Statest:

North Korea can already hit Hawaii, parts of Alaska, and California. It can also hit U.S. forward-deployed troops in South Korea, Japan, and Guam…While the Obama Administration does not believe that North Korea is capable of hitting the U.S. with a nuclear weapon, the U.S. has a history of underestimating North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

American troops and bases are also located throughout the region, including along the Demilitarized Zone that serves as a border between North and South Korea.

 “The U.S. has already responded to the threats—but more commitment to missile defense is needed,” Heritage’s Amy Payne argues. Unfortunately,“diplomacy doesn’t work with Kim Jong-un,” suggesting we need to impose tough sanctions instead of endlessly talking.

Heritage Foundation expert Bruce Klingner elaborates on the danger:

Perhaps most worrisome is that the regime’s threat du jour is occurring so rapidly. In the past, Pyongyang would issue a threat and then allow Washington and its allies time to respond, preferably by offering benefits to buy its way back to the status quo ante. The current rapid-fire threats conflict with previous North Korean behavior and reduce the potential for de-escalating the crisis.

And it would be foolhardy to dismiss the North Koreans, he adds:

North Korea is easy to ridicule…Its leader could well play the villain in a James Bond or Austin Powers movie. Self-appointed ambassador Dennis Rodman’s visit affirmed the image of the reclusive regime as the ultimate reality show. As such, the tendency has been to dismiss all North Korean threats as bluster. That would be a mistake.

“Americans are taking notice” of this threat, Payne explains. “CNN reports that ‘more than four in 10’ Americans in a new poll say ‘they see the reclusive nation as an immediate threat to the United States…That’s up 13 percentage points in less than a month.’”

While we work to resolve the crisis, the United States and our allies must prepare for the worst.

Do you think North Korea is a threat to the United States? What should the United States do to stop them? Tell us in the comments below. 

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