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This image, from a news bulletin aired today by North Korea's KRT, is said to show North Korea leader Kim Jong-un applauding after the launch of a Hwasong-14 (KRT via AP Video)

In their final conversations during the transition, Barack Obama issued a stark warning to Donald Trump: North Korea presents the most urgent, alarming, and bedeviling threat you will confront as head of the free world.

  • Today, North Korea showed why: The regime claims to have successfully tested a missile that could carry a nuclear bomb and hit Alaska (Update: U.S. officials now believe it may have been that type of missile; Secretary of State Tillerson condemns launch as "escalation.")
  • Trump's tweets: "North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea ... and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"
  • What North Korea said, via AP: "[T]he test of an ICBM — the Hwasong-14 — marked the 'final step' in creating a 'confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth.'"

This doesn't mean the United States faces an imminent threat, because intelligence suggests the regime is a ways from getting the technology right to shoot a missile with sufficient distance and nuclear capacity. But this is a huge deal and here's why, from the N.Y. Times:

"The missile looked like the longest-range missile that North Korea had ever tested, and its long flight time was 'more consistent with an ICBM that can target Alaska and perhaps Hawaii,' said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies."
"'Even if this is a 7,000-km-range missile, a 10,000-km-range missile that can hit New York isn't far off.'"

The path of the rocket, via an AP graphic:

AP

Go deeper: Axios Expert Voices charts five courses of action for the U.S. confrontation with North Korea.

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Go deeper

GOP to vote on ousting Liz Cheney this Wednesday

Photo: Tom Williams/Pool via Getty Images

House Republicans will vote on recalling Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as conference chair this Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced in a letter Monday, Punchbowl News reported.

Why it matters: Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, has faced increasing backlash from McCarthy and her Republican colleagues as she continues to criticize former President Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud.

3 hours ago - Health

Treasury begins disbursing $350 billion in COVID relief funding to states and localities

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Monday began giving state and local governments access to $350 billion in emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan, the department announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though the money is aimed at helping state, local, territorial and tribal governments recover from the pandemic's economic fallout, the administration will generally give them wide latitude on how they can use the funds.

Game developers break silence around salaries

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Developers are sharing their salaries on Twitter under the hashtag #GameDevPaidMe to encourage pay transparency in their industry.

The big picture: The hashtag started circulating last year, but has returned periodically as developers fight for better working conditions. Salary sharing is a way to equalize the field. By removing the secrecy, as well as the stigma, around discussing pay, workers have more power to advocate for themselves when negotiating salaries and raises.