The North American command Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the joint Canadian-American organization warning of imminent threats from the skies, continues to monitor North Korea's nuclear program with the same intensity as at the height of the North Korean missile test. In fact, NORAD and the head of the Northern Command Center in the US, Col. Travis Morehen, a Canadian, says the organization still receives three or four intelligence reports on the country's nuclear program.
"We have observed the same as we did before, just as we observe every other nation that poses a threat to the United States and Canada," he said.
Morehen has said during five North Korean missile tests and at the wheel of the NORAD command "standing guard" that it is not the political rhetoric that influences their decision-making, but "hard intelligence".
"We have a job to do, measured in minutes and seconds, trying to explain political rhetoric, it does not fit in. We're worried about metal parts flying through space and coming to North America," he said he.
CNN received rare access to NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado Springs for the organization's 60th anniversary. The complex is home to NORAD's alternative command center, which lies almost a mile inside the mountain and is buried under 2,400 feet of massive granite.
The primary command center is located near Peterson Air Force Base, but in the event of a serious real-life nuclear threat, the operation would relocate to Cheyenne Mountain, and for good reason. It is secured by two massive 23-tonne fire doors that completely shield it from the outside world to survive a nuclear attack, or maintain communication after an electromagnetic impulse. Outside training, these doors only closed once: September 1
The fifteen buildings inside are built on 1,300 giant springs built to bounce off in the event of a nuclear attack or earthquake. And within the command center, there's enough powerful technology to detect a rocket launch anywhere in the world within seconds.
"We like to say that it is the safest facility in the world," said Steven Rose, deputy director of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.
Originally built during the Cold War to defend against Soviet bombers, it is now used to detect the latest missile launches abroad and monitors potential threats to domestic air traffic. It is also equipped to detect threats to the sea such as the movement of military submarines. If a Chinese or Russian sub drive to North America, NORAD's job would be to know it.
When North Korea fires a rocket, the approximately 30 people within the command post are trained to respond in seconds and decide if the missile could reach North America. If so, Washington and Ottawa are notified to make decisions about one possible reaction:
President Donald Trump no longer calls Kim "Little Rocket Man," and Kim no longer calls Trump "mentally disturbed." Instead, Trump has found a new enemy when it comes to nuclear threats: Iran. Since the President announced that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, Hassan Rouhani, the country's president, has not yet fully committed to the deal – meaning that the world could soon have a second emerging nuclear power ,
did not change the calculus much within the NORAD command post. Morehen says that Iranian intelligence does not always match the sharp political rhetoric of the country – not to mention the fact that Iran has not demonstrated the ability to attack North America.
"We're not trying to look very closely, it's said in the news, it's rhetoric, so let's focus once again on the harsh movement of skills, the use of rockets, the use of submarines and bombers," said he.