Apparently someone in Japan got very imaginative (or had some weed, got over-excited, or deliberate rumour mongering to capitalize on this incident - pick you choice), NK Zone wondered if it is supposed to be Pearl Harbor II, I guess half-jokingly.
- "A North Korean missile launched on Wednesday was aimed at an area of the ocean close to Hawaii, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday"
Now why I think Sankei's claim is bullshit. Here comes the geography.
- Although the theoretical estimate for the range of Taepodong-2 is large, 4000-10000km. The particular missile fired this week was believed to have a maximum range of 6000km (see, eg, Reuter report above), i.e. at best reaching somewhere in Alaska northwest of Anchorage, had the launch been successful. The estimate is based on the payload (assumed very small) and the amount of fuel and the type of fuel used in the rocket
- Now the great circle (shortest path) distance between Pyongyang and Anchorage is 6000km, and Pyongyang-Honululu 7400km (the launch pad at Musudan-ri is located at the NE of Poyongyang so one could subtract about 200km in the 2 numbers above) -- always remember that the distance is longer if the destination is closer to the equator, since our maps exaggerate distance near the poles.
p.s. there are a lot of obvious errors in these new reports. e.g. the KHON link (perhaps it was a direct translation from Sankei) above had the missile range and the distance to Hawaii totally wrong. It then made a further mistake of saying the path to Hawaii does not pass a land area - Japan is in between N Korea and Hawaii!
Relates: With Few N. Korea Facts, a Rumor Got Launched
A warhead found in Alaska? The report's longevity illustrates the uncertainty and fear. -- LA Times
1) globalsecurity senior fellow CP Vick has a comprehensive analysis, the satellite launch theory seems to be the most likely -- consistent with my post here, that it either aims at the open sea or is a satellite launch. In any case, Hawaii was not the target, not was any US base from Alaska to California. If it were a satellite, then it could pass through the ocean near Hawaii, in theory.
- "Almost certainly it was a satellite launch at an inclination of 41 degrees or perhaps a three stage booster dummy warhead launch to impact down range in the south Pacific relative to South America"