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.

Go deeper

15 mins ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.

Wolf Blitzer marks 15 years in "The Situation Room"

Wolf Blitzer on the White House beat in 1993, along with NBC's Brian Williams, CBS' Rita Braver and ABC's Brit Hume. Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images H

Aug. 8, 2005 — "The Situation Room's" debut on CNN wherein the host first said: "I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in The Situation Room, where news and information from around the world arrive in one place simultaneously!"

The state of play: When the pandemic took off in the U.S. in March, Blitzer started working 7 days a week for 60+ days, until he took a Sunday off. Then he continued 7 days a week until he took a few days off.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 19,412,292 — Total deaths: 722,066 — Total recoveries — 11,773,112Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 4,945,795 — Total deaths: 161,456 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.