Cold War nuclear attack siren reinstated in Hawaii

While the United States has yet to be gripped by panic of a nuclear war, this step by Hawaiian officials reflects the escalation of tensions with North Korea.

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Cold-war era sirens have made a return in Hawaii. Photo: Thepoeticimage, Bigstock

A cold-war era nuclear attack siren has been reinstated in the US island state of Hawaii in response to growing fears of a North Korean nuclear attack. Residents of Hawaii are left wondering how likely or feasible it is for North Korea to attack them.

Amidst an escalation of sabre rattling between the United States and North Korea, the prospect of nuclear war is slowly returning as a legitimate fear for American citizens. While the posturing of each nation has largely been based on colourful rhetoric from their leaders the tensions around the use of nuclear weapons has not been this high since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The alarm will return to service on the first day of December and if sounded will essentially order residents to return to their homes and stay there until official word from authorities. The order to reinstate the alarm system comes from Hawaiian officials who believe preparedness for an attack is necessary.

This announcement falls soon after the confirmation of North Korean missile testing over Japan and has prompted speculation about the countries’ ballistic range. Hawaiian residents have been advised to prepare shelter in case of an attack which has heightened anxieties on the island state.

The attack test siren will be aired on the first business day of each month at 11:45am along with other regular sirens regarding natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes. The reintroduction of a siren alerting people of a military attack is something that Hawaiians will now have to get used to.

With Hawaii being positioned off the US mainland, it is one of 3 US territories considered geographically closest to North Korea. It has been estimated that it would only take roughly 20 minutes for a North Korean missile to reach the state capital of Honolulu.

The reinstatement of the alarm siren is a sign of preparation for a worst-case scenario that Hawaiian residents have had a mixed reaction to. While some people have begun discussing their shelter plans with their families, others have pointed out the futility of trying to avoid a nuclear missile that targeted the island.

The Hawaiian state government estimated that a 150-kiloton-yeild nuclear missile that hit the Pearl Harbour-Hickam base would result in the deaths of 18,000 people with 120,000 injuries. Despite these grim predictions, experts have noted that Hawaii is a small target that is unlikely to be a high priority for North Korea.