As tensions escalate between North Korea and the United States, California officials are preparing for the worst, urging local agencies to take the threat of a nuclear attack from the communist nation seriously.
The Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center issued a report in August, titled “Nuclear Attack Response Considerations,” warning emergency personnel and law enforcement of the impact a North Korean nuclear attack could have on Southern California.
“The consequences of a nuclear attack in Southern California would be catastrophic,” the report says. “Nonetheless, government entities and first responders are expected to remain operational to preserve human life, maintain order, and aid in the recovery process.”
The 16-page report obtained by Foreign Policy was circulated to all L.A.-based first responders, including all local, state, and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland security, in an effort to better prepare their nuclear attack response plans.
The report refers to recent tests by North Korea deploying intercontinental ballistic missiles that could—in theory—reach the West Coast of the United States, along with propaganda videos threatening nuclear attack.
“North Korea’s propaganda videos feature ruins of San Francisco and Washington,” the document says.
According to Foreign Policy, the document talks about the effects of a nuclear blast, including radiation poisoning, electromagnetic pulse disabling communications, and the impact such an attack would have on infrastructure and buildings.
The document notes that federal government aid would take longer to arrive.
“[T]here will be no significant federal assistance at the scene for 24-72 hours following the attack,” the report states.
Government authorities would have trouble dealing with the aftermath of the blast, the report says. The public would need to evacuate but with “limited understanding of radiation risks, they will experience high anxiety and may be non-compliant.”
A nuclear blast at the Long Beach Port could cause more than $1 trillion in damage, loss of life, and widespread destruction of homes, the report stated, citing figures from Rand Corp, a nonprofit global policy think tank.
In one section under “radiation protection basics,” the report offers steps on what to do in during a nuclear attack.
“Lie face down and place hands under the body to protect exposed skin,” the document recommends. “Remain flat until the heat and shock waves have passed.”
The aim of the unclassified report was to share planning and guidance with the widest distribution possible, according to two officials involved who received the bulletin, Foreign Policy reported.
Issues such as nuclear contamination spread by pets and through clothing were one among many of public health and logistical coordination issues spelled out for potential emergency responders.