SEATTLE -- Experts have always said the Pacific Northwest could be a top target for North Korea, but that knowledge doesn't mean the region is prepared for a nuclear attack. In fact, Washington state is barred from taking any steps to prepare.
The state is allowed to create evacuation plans for every disaster scenario, except a nuclear bomb. The 1984 law was designed to prevent unwarranted hysteria during the Cold War.
A sponsor of the bill, former state representative Dick Nelson, says in the '50s a nuclear bomb drill in Spokane led to the evacuation of the city.
Nelson adds planning a response now would only encourage an attack.
"You are really sending a message that you're getting ready to do something maybe yourself," Nelson said.
Current state senator Mark Miloscia of Federal Way calls the ban irresponsible.
"I think it's ridiculous and silly. And sort of the head in the sand sort of mentality," he said.
Washington State Emergency Management Director Robert Ezelle disagrees saying, yes, the current law is not really effective.
But, "we do not have a specific plan for a nuclear attack, nor do we have a specific plan for a volcano or a number of types of hazards that you can name," Ezelle said.
Why target Seattle?
Richard Ellings, the President of the National Bureau of Asian Research, said Seattle is a prime target.
"We are the ultimate target to hold hostage, from a North Korean perspective," Ellings said. "We have JBLM whose primary purpose is to reinforce the Korean Peninsula in case hostilities break out. We have Boeing, we have the trident missile base, intercontinental ballistic missiles on Trident submarines. We have the shining city on the hill. We are the ultimate target to hold hostage from the North Korean perspective."
Adding, “those nuclear-tipped missiles are meant to intimidate us, and if we go to war or it looks like things are going to heat up, to hit us. We have to take it dead seriously. We need missile defense. We need deterrents. We need civil defense. It's absolutely irresponsible not to have a civil defense.”
On Tuesday, US intelligence analysts assessed that North Korea has missiles and nuclear warheads small enough to fit inside them, according to multiple sources familiar with the analysis of North Korea's missile and nuclear program.
Hours later, President Donald Trump warned the country that if they continued to threaten the U.S., they would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
North Korea fired by saying its military is now “examining the operational plan” to strike areas around the U.S. territory of Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles, state-run news agency KCNA said.