With tensions between the U.S. and North Korea on the rise, how prepared is Hawaii in the event of a nuclear attack?
State representative Matt LoPresti says he wants to see Hawaii’s community shelter plan updated since it hasn’t been done since 1985.
But what’s the likelihood that shelters would even be needed?
An expert on Asia Pacific security issues says that the majority of analysts agree — right now North Korea does not have the capability to hit another country with a nuclear weapon.
Denny Roy, a PhD in political science working at the East-West Center in Honolulu, has been watching North Korea’s actions closely. Roy says there is a clear reason for the latest nuclear test, the country’s sixth.
“North Korea wants to become recognized by the United States and the rest of the world as a country that has the capability to launch nuclear weapons against an adversary like the United States,” Roy explains.
While Roy says North Korea does not have the capability to launch a successful nuclear strike against the U.S., the bigger question may be even if they did, would they chose to exercise that power.
“I don’t have any doubt that the North Koreans are aware that if they use a nuclear weapon in anger it would be the extinction of the regime and indeed of North Korea as a separate country,” Roy said.
While Roy says it’s not completely unreasonable to start thinking about the possibility of an eventual attack, North Korea is aware of what attacking the U.S. in anger would mean.
“I have to emphasize there’s no good reason for the North Koreans to actually use their nuclear weapons because it would be suicidal, and contrary to the image of the North Korean government that’s popular among most Americans of it being a crazy and irrational regime, there’s nothing to indicate that the regime is in a hurry to have themselves or their country destroyed,” Roy said.
Nevertheless, LoPresti says he believes the state should be prepared. He’s pushing a resolution to update Oahu’s community shelter plan as well as its fallout shelters.
“The point is to let people know that we are preparing, and at least provide some comfort that we are making some efforts to protect people,” LoPresti said.
The executive officer for the state Department of Emergency Management says the agency supports the intent of the resolution saying, “We look at all threats and assess what we can do to protect the population.”
He also says HI-EMA is working with various governmental agencies to provide a response to the resolution next week, but that the agency is actively planning to respond to threats.