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CDC schedules briefing on nuclear war preparation

The CDC is offering a training program on safety during a nuclear blast. (estt/Getty Images)

Teri Webster

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is holding a Jan. 16 briefing to explain how the public can prepare for nuclear war.

“While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps,” a notice on the CDC’s website states. “Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding.”

What will the program include?

The session will include information on what public health programs are doing at the federal, state, and local level to prepare for a nuclear detonation, according to the announcement. Additional information will cover how planning for a nuclear detonation is similar to and different from other emergency responses.

The program comes at a time when tensions are rising as leaders from the U.S. and North Korea exchange insults and threats of nuclear war.

In the latest exchange, President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this week that his nuclear war button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s. Trump added that his nuclear war button actually works.

What are people saying?

Former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in on the issue during an interview on PBS “NewsHour.”

Biden said he agrees with retired Adm. Mike Mullen that the U.S. has never been closer to nuclear war with North Korea. Mullen is a retired Navy admiral and served as a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Yeah, I do,” Biden said during the interview. “And that’s why I think that what I worry about — and I’m worried from the beginning — is about fundamental miscalculations. This is not a business deal. This is not about who builds the next skyscraper.”

Biden’s comment in part referenced Trump’s former career as a real estate developer.

The nation faces “an incredibly difficult problem in North Korea.” Biden said. Adding there is “no easy answer” except to limit North Korea’s capacity and its relationships with China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

“When we engage in activities like ‘let’s compare the button,’ they all — for different reasons and different motivations — lose confidence in us,” Biden said. “They wonder what the hell we’re doing. I’m worried they then decide they’re going to try separate ways to figure out how to do this.”

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Mullen said he believes the U.S. is “closer… to a nuclear war with North Korea” than at any previous point in history.”