After listening to experts describe the threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear arsenal, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, paused amid a Capitol Hill hearing earlier this week and made a suggestion.
“We ought to have civil defense in this country,” said Sherman during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Some of us are old enough to remember when we had civil defense and we were under our desks.”
The congressman wasn’t calling for an immediate return to the “duck and cover” days of the Cold War. But his statement reflects heightened alarm among members of Congress – especially those from the West Coast – over North Korea’s continuing nuclear tests and advances in missile technology.
In the last year alone, North Korea has conducted 20 missile tests and two nuclear tests. That’s a marked annual increase from the 42 missile tests and two nuclear tests of the previous seven years, according to Victor Cha, a Korea specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Cha and other experts say it is highly likely that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will launch another intercontinental ballistic missile this year, in part to gauge the response from President Donald Trump. While some of North Korea’s missile tests have ended in failure, the regime seems to be learning from each launch to improve its capability.