Neat certainties are rare in the North Korean nuclear crisis, which for decades has simmered and occasionally boiled over, without resolution.
So it was jarring to see the absolute confidence with which America's top Pacific commander described the ability of a contentious U.S. missile defense system, scheduled to be up and running in days in South Korea, to shoot down North Korean missiles.
"If it flies, it will die," Adm. Harry Harris Jr. told U.S. lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday.
Like nearly everything associated with the world's last Cold War standoff, the truth is muddier.
To test the admiral's assertion, The Associated Press asked a handful of specialists to weigh in on one of the biggest points of friction in Northeast Asia.
THAAD HAS LIMITS, UNKNOWNS
Harris does have some data to back up his bold statement.
After an early redesign, the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, was reportedly successfully tested 12 times, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.