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Hawaii Braces For Possible NK Missile Attack

KCNA/via REUTERS

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Hawaii is introducing an emergency response plan for residents to prepare them for a possible North Korean missile strike, according to state officials.

Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency said Thursday it will launch a public information and education campaign to ensure that islanders know what to do in the event that North Korea fires a long-range missile, one potentially armed with a nuclear warhead, at the Aloha state, the Honolulu Star Adviser reported.

“We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public; however, we have a responsibility to plan for all hazards,” Vern T. Miyagi, Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency administrator, said in a statement. “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.”

The response plan, which the agency began developing in December last year, outlines what residents should do and where they should go when they hear the warning sirens, as well as how people can communicate with family members in the event of an attack.

North Korea shocked the world earlier this month when it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile with an estimated range that potentially puts Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of the West Coast within striking distance. Over the course of the past decade, North Korea has conducted a total of five nuclear weapons tests, with North Korean state media claiming that it can mount a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.

While the odds that North Korea would launch a nuclear strike on Hawaii are low, the islands are home to 1.4 million residents and a number of military facilities, including the headquarters for U.S. Pacific Command, which is why those tasked with the safety and security of the state are not taking any chances.

In the wake of North Korea’s ICBM test, a Hawaii lawmaker introduced legislation that would improve the capabilities of America’s missile defenses.

The U.S. is defended by the ground-based midcourse defense systems in Alaska and California, which were recently tested against a mock ICBM, but some observers suggest that Hawaii’s defenses should be upgraded to meet the growing threat from North Korea. Admiral Harry Harris told Congress in April that new radars and interceptors should potentially be stationed in Hawaii to improve the island state’s ability to protect itself in the event of an attack.

The Trump administration, having identified North Korea as a top national security threat, is currently pursuing a policy of “maximum pressure and engagement,” which involves military deterrence, economic sanctions and international pressure, but all options remain on the table.

“I think we have to entertain” the possibility of preventative military action against North Korea, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva told the Senate Arms Services Committee. He added, though, that the U.S. should carefully consider the consequences of such an aggressive action.

Hawaii is the second U.S. state to begin educating its residents on what to do in the case of a nuclear attack by North Korea. California began its campaign in April, NBC reported.

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