N Korea threat prompts Hawaii nu­clear siren test

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL -

The US state of Hawaii has tested a nu­clear at­tack 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.

Py­ongyang has tested a se­ries of bal­lis­tic mis­siles and in Septem­ber car­ried out its sixth nu­clear test. Hawaii, in the Pa­cific, al­ready has a monthly test of sirens warn­ing of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

The nu­clear at­tack sig­nal uses a dif­fer­ent, wa­ver­ing tone, warn­ing res­i­dents and tourists to stay in­doors and await fur­ther in­struc­tions. The last time a nu­clear at­tack warn­ing siren was tested in the state was in the 1980s in the fi­nal years of the Cold War. But it sounded again on Fri­day morn­ing and will be re­peated on the first busi­ness day of every month.

Vern Miyagi, who heads the Hawaii Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, said it was "crit­i­cally im­por­tant" for the pub­lic to un­der­stand what the dif­fer­ent tones mean, the Honolulu Star-Ad­vertiser re­ported. A mis­sile launched from North Korea could strike Hawaii within 20 min­utes of launch, the pa­per added.

Hawaii hosts the US mil­i­tary head­quar­ters for the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion. North Korea re­cently tested a new in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile which it claims can hit any­where on the main­land United States. Ex­perts say the Hwa­song-15 ap­pears ca­pa­ble of trans­port­ing a nu­clear war­head, al­though it is un­clear if Py­ongyang is yet ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a weapon small enough to be fit­ted on to a mis­sile.

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