A North Korea attack here? Not likely but be prepared

Advances in North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its provocative statements have made people nervous. (AP Photo)

SEATTLE -- Tensions are rising as North Korea makes bold statements about its nuclear weapons and making plans to attack U.S. bases in Guam.

President Donald Trump warns North Korea of "fire and fury."

And then there are reports that North Korea can fit a nuclear weapon inside a missile. There are worries that the West Coast could be a target.

Here at home, it all has people nervous, including University of Washington student Jesse Sheldon.

"For me, it's a little bit scary in some regard. I don't believe anything is going to come of it. I think it's a lot of talk, and we're not going to see any action."

Clark Sorensen, professor of East Asian studies at the UW, admits the news is scary. But he adds, "I wouldn't start digging my bomb shelter quite yet."

Tensions have been growing since the 1990s, he said, but the situation changed around 2006 when North Korea began detonating nuclear devices and improving its technology.

Still, he says nuclear weapons "are really great for deterrents, but you can't really use them."

He explains that "if North Korea actually sent any kind of weapon against the United Sates, we would obliterate their entire country ."

Any war, he said, would cost thousands of Americans their lives.

Yet are we prepared for that conflict, however unlikely?

Eric Holdeman, director of the Center for Regional Disaster Resilience in Seattle, noted that preparation is not like the 1950s and 1960s. The federal government stopped funding nearly all civil defense in the early 1990s, he said.

But Holdeman said if that funding returns, new efforts would include warning systems, evacuation plans, civil-military planning, radiation detection and monitoring instruments and public education.

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