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State Leaders Weigh in on N. Korea Threat to Hawai‘i

April 21, 2017, 1:00 PM HST
* Updated April 21, 2:54 PM
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Kim Jong-un, Sen. Brian Schatz. Jong -un image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Jong-un

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Brian Schatz addressed the concerns of Hawai‘i Island residents during separate Town Hall meetings in Hilo, on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. One of the topics causing varying degrees of anxiety for Big Island residents is the threat of N. Korea targeting Hawai‘i with nuclear weapons.

“I think that you should let me do the worrying,” stated Sen. Schatz. “I don’t think this should worry you every morning. There is not zero risk but this is not the kind of thing we should be daily wringing your hands over.”

“Where I do have a concern, is that the president has no plan at all when it comes to North Korea,” Sen. Schatz admitted.

Sen. Schatz explained that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis may not be “a pro-peace guy,” but said, “He is a grown up and he does not want a cataclysmic, what they call a ‘kinetic endangerment.'”

According to Schatz, nobody will win in a kinetic engagement with N. Korea.

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“Now normally you would work with diplomatic channels, right, and review your war writing plans as a contingency,” said Schatz, “and then see if there is anything else that we can do. On the warfighting plans, like I said, we have them but they’re awful—not just for us but for our allies in the region and our friends in South Korea.”

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Schatz concluded that regarding missile defense and stopping N. Korea, “We are doing everything that can be done.”

Tuesday evening, Rep. Gabbard also addressed the issue during her Town Hall in Hilo.

Rep. Gabbard explained that she has been bringing awareness about the seriousness of the threat from N. Korea.

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She said that senior members of Congress were not aware that in recent years, N. Korea has developed international ballistic missiles that put Hawai‘i directly within range of those capabilities and that those threats have directly been made.

Given N. Korea’s recent actions and recent escalations, Rep Gabbard said, “I am urging colleagues, our Hawai‘i delegation, our leadership in the State of Hawai‘i and urging all of you to help raise voices as we try to get urgent action to make sure that the appropriate capabilities are in place for the defense of Hawai‘i in particular. This isn’t something we can take lightly.”

She said that there are missile defenses in other locations but she is urging for Hawai‘i to have its own site, which at this time is not the case.

During questioning by constituents, Rep. Gabbard was asked if Hawai‘i residents should be building bomb shelters and buying gas masks.

While she did not say whether or not Hawai‘i residents should do those things, Rep. Gabbard said again that N. Korea’s missiles can hit Hawai‘i, so the question is not a theoretical one, but  a reality.

“Some people make the mistake of saying Kim Jong-un, the leader of N. Korea, is a lunatic,” said Rep. Gabbard. “He’s crazy but I have heard from many experts and when you look at the situation, you realize his actions follow a certain form of logic.”

Rep. Gabbard said now that people here in Hawai‘i are staring down the barrel of, essentially, a nuclear threat from N. Korea, it’s important for everyone to think their actions through clearly and understand exactly what is going on.

“It’s not just a lone actor but there are again consequences to our policies,” explained Rep. Gabbard.

According to Rep. Gabbard, N. Korea has nuclear weapons as a deterrent to regime change.

“We need to be focusing on issues at home not regime change in other countries,” said Rep. Gabbard.

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