The good news, as of this entry North Korea has not started shooting missiles or people to the South. The not so good news; a new assessment by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm has concluded for the first time, with “moderate confidence,” that North Korea has learned how to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be delivered by a ballistic missile. NY Times
The reliability and accuracy is assessed as being low by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). However, assessments are only as good as the information on which it is based. The missiles could end being the "golden BB" that hits exactly the right spot at the right time. Perhaps this is why the Pentagon released this statement: “It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage.”
Could North Korea hit Alaska? Possibly. Could North Korea hit the lower 48? Unlikely, however it makes you wonder if they can build a warhead small enough for a missile could they have built some type of small yield device to be detonated by a terrorist cell?
The real threat though is more that the cat-and-mouse game causes one side or the other to shoot something (such as downing an enemy aircraft the flies to close to the border). The other unspoken problem is what if Japan gets hit by a missile? Will they wait for the US to retaliate or take a page from the Israelis?
Perhaps this is why Secretary Kerry is on his way to Seoul. Press reports have his two goals to get China to mount pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program (unlikely) and assure South Korea and Japan that the US has their backs.
North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, including one earlier this year, and shot a ballistic missile as far as the Philippines in December. American and South Korean intelligence agencies believe that another test — perhaps of a midrange missile called the Musadan that can reach Japan, South Korea and almost as far as Guam — may be conducted in the coming days, to celebrate the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder. At the Pentagon, there is particular concern about another missile, yet untested, called the KN-08, which may have significantly longer range.
Perhaps this is finally the clue, North Korea is waiting for Kim Il-sung's birthday to start attacks. Having a new SecDef and Secretary of State breaking in on something this dangerous is not ideal. One wrong move and we are back in a shooting war.