By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An expert on international relations says it was interesting how quickly the U.S. confirmed the North Korea missile test, and the Pentagon believed it was as intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

University of Pennsylvania Political Science Professor Michael Horowitz says the Pentagon still doesn’t know whether North Korea can “mate the missile to a nuclear warhead.”

“But there’s no doubt that this is a significant increase in North Korea’s missile capabilities,” Horowitz said.

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He says military action against North Korea remains challenging. Horowitz points out there are 28,000 U.S. military forces in South Korea that would be at risk of a North Korean counter-strike, and Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is just 35 miles from the border.

“That puts it within easy artillery range of North Korea,” he said. “It means that tens of thousands of people could die, in a North Korean response to any U.S. strike.”

In the short term, Horowitz expects the U.S. and South Korea to ramp up the scope of joint military drills, in an attempt to demonstrate that they will not be intimidated by the North’s activities.

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Horowitz thinks President Trump will look to ratchet up pressure on North Korea, through both direct and secondary sanctions.

“Attempts to leverage other countries to cease trading with North Korea,” he said.

In his opinion, a key difference between President Trump and previous administrations is that he “seeks to purposely leverage uncertainty about how the U.S. might respond, to attempt to influence potential U.S. adversaries.” He says Mr. Trump’s instincts may tell him to try to be “unpredictable, in an attempt to complicate Pyongyang’s decision process.”

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