Hawaii will test its nuclear sirens for the first time since the end of the Cold War, implying that the state is taking ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Kim Jong Un seriously.
The state announced that, beginning Friday, residents will hear the nuclear warning siren on the first business day of every month just before noon, CNN reported Tuesday. Hawaii hasn’t tested the system since the end of the Cold War, but even with it up and running, experts say residents can only expect to be alerted 15 minutes before a nuclear detonation.
“Pacific Command would take about fives minutes to characterize a launch, where the missile is going, which means the population would have about 15 minutes to take shelter,” Vern Miyagi, administrator for Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency told CNN. “It’s not much time at all. But it is enough time to give yourself a chance to survive.”
Residents are instructed to find shelter and stay inside for at least 14 days after a detonation or until they are contacted by relief crews via radio.
South Korea has said that North Korea could become a fully-armed nuclear power in 2018, with the capability of striking an American state, the closest of which is Hawaii.
“North Korea has been developing its nuclear weapons at a faster-than-expected pace,” Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea’s unification minister, told reporters at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club, “We cannot rule out the possibility that North Korea may declare the completion of its nuclear program in 2018.”
The Pentagon assessed this past summer that North Korea will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable long-range missile next year.
With the warning system intact, the emergency management agency anticipates that 18,000 Hawaiians would be killed in a nuclear detonation.
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