Harsh rhetoric from North Korea is nothing new, but some observers in the US feel that the recent threats represent real danger this time.
Others claim they reflect the changing internal dynamics and new leadership in Pyongyang and that this crisis will pass.
Either way, US policy experts agree that Washington must be ready.
Evans Revere, from Albright Stonebridge Group said: To me, the biggest takeaway from this crisis is that it tells us very clearly that a nuclear-armed, missile-capable North Korea – if they have those capabilities at some point down the road – could have those capabilities to actually carry out the blood-curdling threats that we have heard. That is a worrisome thing to me.”
Other experts agreed that the threat posed by North Korea appears to have been over-exaggerated.
Stephen Pifer from the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence said:“The Musudan missile, which there was some thought that it might be launched today, has never been flown. The North Koreans apparently considered it operational, but they have never test-flown it. Nobody in the United States, in Russia, in Europe would consider a missile that has never flown once as an operational system.”
Our Washington correspondent, Stefan Grobe, believes the White House can not afford to underestimate Pyongyang.
“The United States is in a dilemma. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed the American willingness to re-engage with North Korea. The problem is: The North Koreans want this conversation, but only on their terms. And that is being accepted as a nuclear-weapon state and without a major role for South Korea,” he said.