Sometimes it feels as if the mainstream media works in concert with government agencies to manufacture a perpetual atmosphere of existential terror. Reminiscent of the color-coded alerts issued by the Homeland Security Department during the early years of the War on Terror, we now get daily updates of a feud between two world leaders boasting about the relative sizes of their nuclear buttons while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls for a public meeting to discuss nuclear fallout preparedness. The timing is extraordinary, but not unexpected in what Hunter S. Thompson called ‘the Kingdom of Fear.’
In a briefing ahead of the January 16th session, the CDC said:
“While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.”
The session will occur during the agency’s monthly Public Health Grand Rounds, a community symposium hosted by Atlanta’s CDC headquarters, and will feature talks entitled “Preparing for the Unthinkable” and “Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness.”
Despite North and South Korea holding talks for the first time in three years later this month, tensions have escalated between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump. The tough talk between them started almost immediately after the brash billionaire insurgent took office. Trump, who felt previous presidents had tread too carefully with the rogue dictatorship, responded to Jong-un’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests by promising “fire and fury.”
The most recent exchange started when Jong-un stated:
“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat. This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment. These weapons will be used only if our society is threatened.“
Trump, hearing that the only trigger for North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons was to be threatened, promptly threatened him with a tweet comparing the size of their buttons (which, of course, is a mischaracterization of official nuclear protocol):
Over the weekend, Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said such talk is creating uncertainty that other superpowers, like Russia and China, can take exploit. He also said we’re closer to nuclear war with North Korea than we’ve ever been.
The communications director for the Public Health Grand Rounds, however, confirmed that the CDC’s nuclear safety meeting is not related to the recent rhetoric and was planned well in advance.
However, notice of the safety hearing follows Guam’s Homeland Security and Office of Civil Defenserelease of a two-page fact sheet describing what to do if a nuclear war begins. In December, Hawaii reinstated a monthly nuclear warning siren system test that hadn’t been used since the end of the Cold War.
The announcement of the CDC’s nuclear fallout safety meeting came with a photograph of a nuclear bomb blast.
President Trump on Saturday that he would “absolutely” be willing to speak to Jong-un over the phone if certain preconditions were met.