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Response mixed to second nuclear air-raid siren test

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    Peace activists protested the ongoing testing of an “attack warning” siren Tuesday for a North Korean threat at the state Capitol and said negotiation with North Korea and world nuclear disarmament are better goals.

The state tested its North Korea “attack warning” sirens for the second time Tuesday as the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said nuclear war with the North is closer than ever and President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un continued to trade jabs.

Dec. 1 marked the relaunch of the wavering-tone air raid warning, not heard since the Cold War, in conjunction with the usual monthly steady-tone “attention alert” test for hurricanes or tsunamis.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said 28 of 386 sirens statewide were not functioning in the December test but that all will be repaired, replaced or upgraded within a year.

On Tuesday outside the state Capitol, a group of about 10 peace activists attempted to push back against the siren tests, protesting what they believe is the wrong message being sent to the community.

The group held signs that said, “No nukes, no war, no need sirens” and “No! War on North Korea.”

“This is kind of a bait and switch,” said Dave Mulinix. “They are normalizing the idea of potential war — and that’s one of the biggest problems with this. We don’t need to think it’s normal to have air raid sirens because there might be a nuclear attack.”

The community needs to be “totally freaked out that a nuclear bomb might come, and so normalizing war is like it’s OK, we can prevent it or we can go hide. That’s a bad message to give out to the people,” Mulinix said.

Retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who is with Veterans for Peace, said the sirens are a kind of “warmongering.”

“I think the probability of the North Koreans firing a missile to the United States is zero,” Wright said. “I mean, they know exactly what would happen if they would do that. Their country would be obliterated, and that’s not what they want.”

Wright, a Honolulu resident who was in North Korea two years ago with a group of 30 women who met with 250 North Korean women on the issue of peace on the Korean Peninsula, said the North wants a peace treaty.

The United States and international community have to negotiate with North Korea, she maintains.

“We (the United States) are so belligerent on so many things,” Wright said, “that we do have to swallow a little crow. How did the Vietnam War end? Crow-eating. All of these endless things will stop when we get ourselves out of the corner we have backed ourselves into.”

In a New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim suggested a thaw in North-South relations. But he also said the United States should know that the country is within range of “nuclear strike, and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office.”

Trump tweeted Tuesday, “Will someone from his (Kim’s) depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an ABC News interview Sunday that an “incredibly dangerous climate exists.”

“We’re actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been,” Mullen said.

In Honolulu, others who heard the two-siren test Tuesday said they were reassured by the state’s preparedness efforts.

“I think it’s good for everybody to observe (the test) and be alert in the event that there is a (missile attack),” said Betty Muraki, who gave her age as “middle 50s.” “I know back in my younger days there always used to be an (attack warning siren test).”

The siren test was phased out in the 1980s or early 1990s.

Carol Burns, 47, said, “I think we need to be on alert if North Korea is trying to threaten us, and we need to be able to prepare.”

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