Hawaii prepares for possible nuclear attack from North Korea

'We have a responsibility to plan for all hazards'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 21 July 2017 14:47 BST
North Korea tested its first ICBM in early July
North Korea tested its first ICBM in early July (AP)

Officials in Hawaii are preparing an emergency response plan they will deploy if North Korea fires a missile at their state.

While the officials said they do not wish to create stress or unduly worry islanders, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency revealed it is to unveil a public education and information campaign informing people what they should do in the unlikely instance Pyongyang decides to target Hawaii.

“We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public, however, we have a responsibility to plan for all hazards,” said Vern Miyagi, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator, according to the Star Advertiser.

“We cannot wait to begin our public information campaign to ensure that Hawaii residents will know what do if such an event occurs.”

The announcement conjured up images of Cold War drills of 1950s school children being made to hide under their desks to prepare for a Soviet nuclear onslaught. Yet officials in Hawaii said they wanted to be able to let locals and tourists know what to do if they hear the sound of sirens.

Hawaii News Now reported the campaign will also feature tests of a new emergency siren on the first workday of each month. “The normal siren will sound, followed by a second siren that would be used in the event of an attack,” the news site said.

North Korea celebrates rocket launch with massive concert

After months of mutual sabre-rattling by the US and North Korea, in early July the East Asian nation tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14. Experts said it was possible that the missile, with a range of up to 4,000 miles, could reach Alaska or Hawaii, though there is no evidence North Korea is planning a move that would likely result in its nuclear annihilation.

Officials estimate that if North Korea developed a warhead to attach to its ICBM, it could reach Hawaii in 20 minutes and that there would be just 12 to 15 minutes to warn people.

“We don’t know the exact capabilities or intentions of the North Korean government, but there is clear evidence that it is trying to develop ballistic missiles that could conceivably one day reach our state,” said Mr Miyagi.

Hawaii was notoriously caught napping in December 1941 when Japan destroyed the US naval fleet at Pearl Harbour, a move that led the US to enter into World War II.

Yet some on Hawaii are concerned that news of the preparations will deter tourists.

“Everyone’s safety in Hawaii is always our top priority. We support the efforts of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to prepare for any threat to Hawaii’s well-being, be it man-made or a natural disaster,” Charlene Chan, director of communications for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said in a statement.

“However, we also know from speaking to our tourism industry partners that if reports are misinterpreted about the state’s need to prepare for an attack, this could lead to travellers and groups staying away from Hawaii.”

This week, it was reported that the US was planning to ban Americans from travelling to to North Korea.

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