North Korea has been on a steady escalation of aggressive posturing against the United States in particular for awhile, but in recent months it’s taken a turn toward legitimate possible threat rather than purely laughable. Especially if you live on the West Coast, particularly the Pacific Northwest (as I do) and the United State’s closest mainland population center to North Korea, the city of Seattle.
The Emerald City is a logical target of a possible nuclear strike (as unlikely as that seems now), but Seattle is barred from making any kind of preparedness plans should “the worst” ever happen.
A state law passed during the later years of the Cold War bars emergency planners from developing a plan in case of such an attack.
State law requires emergency planners to prepare a comprehensive, all-hazard emergency plan, but under the 1984 law, that plan “may not include preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of nuclear attack.”
A truly baffling provision in today’s climate and uncertainty, not to mention a little ill-tempered Millennial with a bad haircut sitting in power in North Korea now (as opposed to his ill-tempered father with the bad haircut).
Former state lawmakers have explained the reasoning at the time as being what was perceived to be the best course of action in the protracted years of U.S. and Soviet hostility.
In 1984, when the legislation took effect, U.S. tensions with the former Soviet Union were easing, said Dick Nelson, a former state representative from Seattle.
“Anything that was a prescription for more concern, like civil-defense exercise, was felt to be nonproductive,” he said. “People didn’t want to be in any sort of posture that people were anticipating more (nuclear) threats. We wanted to reduce the threat.”
At the time, some lawmakers felt that people had little chance of surviving a nuclear attack and that the state was better off planning for other disasters.
Lawmakers in office now said they don’t fear a North Korean nuclear strike, but said they didn’t want the 1984 law to prevent preparation.
A healthy dose of fatalism at the expense of your friends and neighbors. That’s nice.
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers thankfully have proposed a bill to remove the provision barring emergency planning. That said, any bill passed would not take effect until 2018.
While a nuclear attack remains unlikely, having a plan laid out for times of crisis is always preferable to being caught unprepared.