North Korean Missile Threat

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Hawaii is one of the places that experts say a North Korean missile could reach. With the strong U.S. military presence in the islands, there are concerns that the state might be a target.

North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, have been vocal about the extent to which the country is expanding its nuclear missile capabilities, a situation that has escalated tensions between North Korea and the United States as well as other U.S. allies.

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Background

In 2016 and 2017, North Korea embarked on a series of missile tests. Those tests were downplayed by U.S. military strategists until July 2017 when officials concluded that North Korea had indeed successfully developed the capability to launch a missile that could reach Hawaii, Alaska and possibly the continental U.S. It was not clear whether North Korea had developed the capability of arming a missile with a nuclear weapon.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed stringent economic sanctions on North Korea.

In August 2017, as rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un ramped up, North Korea threatened to fire a missile at Guam after Trump declared any aggression by North Korea would be met with “fire and fury.”

Although many experts believed the risk of an imminent on Hawaii was slim, the verbal threats by North Korea became more alarming.

Hawaii is home to the Pacific Command and would likely serve as an important staging area for American forces in the Pacific in the event of greater hostilities breaking out. Hawaii has played that role in every major conflict since the island nation was annexed by the United States in 1898.

Hawaii’s civil defense agency issued guidelines to residents that included: listen for warning sirens, stay away from windows and remain sheltered until they are told it is safe to exit or for 14 days, “whichever comes first,” according to the directive.

North Korean Missile Threat