North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun published an article Sunday indicating that Hawaii and Alaska could be the targets of a North Korean missile attack against the United States. The report also noted that the two regions are home to the United States Pacific Command and the US missile shield.
North Korea tested the Hwasong-14 missile on July 4 — its first successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile with the capability of reaching the US. Pyongyang claims the ICBM can travel more than 6,400 km, potentially enabling it to reach Alaska, Hawaii, and even the West Coast.
The US military has recently stepped up its defense activities in response to the rapidly accelerating threat from North Korea.
According to Pentagon spokesman and Navy Captain Jeff Davis, US Army soldiers have been temporarily deployed at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska, in preparation for another test of its THAAD missile-intercept system. The US Coast Guard issued a notice stating that the test could take place over the coming weekend.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense THAAD-18 system, located on Kodiak Island, is capable of intercepting short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Earlier this month, the US Army successfully deployed THAAD against an intercontinental ballistic weapon for the first time, maintaining a 100 percent success rate from 14 separate tests. In May, the military also intercepted a training ICBM in a ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system test in California.
Hawaii reacted to the North Korean threat by announcing an emergency response plan in the event of a strike. Beginning in November, monthly tests of attack warning sirens will be implemented by the state for the first time since the end of the Cold War nearly three decades ago. The alert siren will be followed by a public service announcement advising citizens to “get inside, stay inside and stay tuned.”
Brochures, radio, Internet and TV ads will be disseminated to notify the public about the sirens, and to indicate steps to be taken in the event of an attack. Schools will also begin carrying out evacuation drills, in what appears to be a revised version of outdated Cold War guidelines.
It would take just 20 minutes for an intercontinental missile to reach the state of Hawaii, leaving almost no time for citizens to respond. According to the Daily Caller, a number of state legislators and a United States admiral have demanded better missile defense capabilities for the island, which houses several major military bases including Pearl Harbor. THAAD systems have already been deployed in Guam and South Korea.
Marine vessels and aircraft are advised to avoid the large ocean area between Kodiak Island and Hawaii over the coming weekend.