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When a commercial airliner flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong reports seeing the apparent re-entry of a North Korea intercontinental ballistic missile into the earth’s atmosphere, it’s past time to start planning how to respond to the unthinkable.
North Korea has the technology to fire an ICBM that can reach just about anywhere in the United States. To this, some might say: “So what? Russia and China have had this capability for years and the Cold War ended decades ago. Nobody in their right mind would launch an attack.”
We agree that someone would have to be nuts to fire a first-strike ICBM at the U.S. and disregard the retaliatory destruction that would soon be raining down on the sender’s head.
But North Korea’s leadership has been described as nuts. And now, the nuts have both nuclear capacity and a way to deliver it.
In this circumstance, urging the United States to take additional steps to defend itself and conduct planning specific to a nuclear attack is not alarmist, but prudent.
Recent funding for enhanced missile defenses and assessments into missile-defense sites on the West Coast are encouraging.
Hawaii has taken a good step in restarting its statewide nuclear alerts. It’s a sign that Hawaii’s state government acknowledges an increased potential for attack, something that thoughtful residents can respond to in their own emergency planning.
Having to ponder a nuclear attack here in Ketchikan — just like anywhere else — is disheartening. Still, we should ensure that our local emergency planning is current and appropriately calibrated to account for the changing realities that now are apparently visible from airliners flying high over the Sea of Japan.