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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, December 15, 2017

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Hawaii tests nuclear warning siren amid North Korea threat

First time since the end of the Cold War

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HAWAII, U.S. - As North Korea intensifies its nuclear threat, the U.S. state of Hawaii has resumed its monthly testing of its nuclear warning siren for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

The resumption of the monthly tests comes amid a growing threat from North Korea's missile and nuclear programme.

The tests have also begun after Pyongyang tested a series of ballistic missiles and after it carried out its sixth nuclear test in September.

Days after the hermit state fired a ballistic missile claiming that it was “capable of striking anywhere in the U.S.,” a wailing siren was sounded across the isolated volcanic archipelago on Friday.

Hawaii emergency management officials said that the state is the first to bring back the Cold War-era warning system.

When the Attack Warning System is tested, the siren that is sounded makes residents seek immediate shelter and remain there until an all-clear message is broadcast over radio or television.

Officials have said that each month, emergency officers currently test a separate warning system for tsunamis and other natural disasters.

Vern Miyagi, administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said that emergency officials, like they do after every monthly test, were gathering information about whether any sirens malfunctioned or were too soft.

Officials inform residents to turn on a radio or television for information and instruction for an impending emergency, or if in a coastal inundation area, to evacuate to higher grounds.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said that the possibility of a strike is remote but it's important to be prepared.

He added, “We believe that it is imperative that we be prepared for every disaster, and in today's world, that includes a nuclear attack.”

Ige said the new test will ensure the public knows what they should do in case of an imminent attack. 

Miyagi, however, pointed out that the state delayed the test for a month to let people know it would be happening.

Hawaii then turned to public service announcements on TV and radio, town hall meetings, information on agency websites and media stories.

However, experts have pointed out that when the attack siren is sounded, residents and tourists on the island, which is located around 4,500 miles from North Korea, would have less than 20 minutes to take shelter.

The governor added, “There needs to be different action taken should there be a nuclear attack than what is expected for a hurricane or tsunami.”

Earlier this week, North Korea’s state-run media released footage of Kim Jong Un overseeing the launch of the country’s latest ICBM, the Hwasong-15 missile.

North Korea said that the missile can reach a distance of more than 8,000 miles, and travelled for 52 minutes before falling into the Sea of Japan.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in response to the missile test, “It is a situation that we will handle. We will take care of it.”

Hawaii, which is one of the closest states to North Korea, has a large military presence, which experts believe could make it more of a target. 

The island of Oahu is home to U.S. Pacific Command, the military's headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region. 

It hosts dozens of Navy ships at Pearl Harbor and is a key base for the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps.

According to reports, when the Cold War ended, funding for maintaining nuclear shelters ran out as the threat of attack ended and therefore, Hawaii no longer has any nuclear shelters. 

Officials in Hawaii have said that the tests will continue on the first business day of every month.

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