Cold War Sirens Dusted Off as Hawaii Fears North Korea Nuclear Attack

By James Burke
James Burke
James Burke
November 28, 2017 Updated: November 28, 2017

Hawaii will restore its Cold War era nuclear attack warning signal on Friday in response to North Korea’s increasingly threatening actions and rhetoric.

The “alert warning” siren signal is a part of a ballistic missile preparedness program, said the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), reported ABC radio.

Residents of the 50th American state are being told “Get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned” upon hearing the siren which hasn’t been used since the Cold War.

The agency said that alerts warning of an impending nuclear missile attack will also be sent to resident’s phones and aired on TV and radio.

Resident have to promptly respond to the alerts as any the launch to impact warning time for Hawaii is 15 minutes or less. They have been instructed to have a designated place to go for shelter.

“There will be no time to call our loved ones, pick up our kids, and find a designated shelter,” HI-EMA Administrator Vern Miyagi told the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

“We should all prepare and exercise a plan ahead of time so we can take some comfort in knowing what our loved ones are doing,” he said.

If a nuclear attack were to hit Hawaii, most probably centered on Honolulu, officials believe there could be around 18,000 fatalities.

“When [HI-EMA] started this campaign there were concerns we would scare the public,” said Miyagi during an emergency preparedness presentation, reported ABC radio. “What we are putting out is information based on the best science that we have on what would happen if that weapon hit Honolulu or the assumed targets.”

While the American military has conducted effective missile interception tests, there is no guarantee that an incoming missile will be intercepted, said HI-EMA who have their headquarters are in a Diamond Head battery housing constructed a century ago for coastal artillery.

After any nuclear blast, Hawaiian residents would need to remain in shelters until the agency has fully evaluated the radiation and fallout. The ABC radio report said that this could take between a couple of hours or as long as two weeks.

Town hall style meetings have been held with officials where residents can ask questions related to nuclear attack preparedness.

The European Council on Foreign Relations think tank released a report this month that said that North Korea’s top nuclear targets included Hawaii.

International tensions have increased as Pyongyang actively develops its nuclear weapon and long-range missile launching capabilities. On Sept. 3, North Korea claimed it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, and earlier this year, it launched two missiles over Japanese territory.


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James Burke