Long Beach, California, is likely to be a target for North Korean nukes, said Hal Kempfer, an ex-US military member and a head of Knowledge and Intelligence Program Professionals (KIPP), a consultancy that specializes in terrorism, intelligence and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) training.
"If you want to mess up southern California, if you want to mess up the west coast, if you want to mess up our country — where do you attack?" Kempfer said during a meeting with public health officials and emergency responders, according to a report by the Guardian.
"If I'm sitting in North Korea and looking at possible targets, I'm going to be looking at Long Beach very closely," asserted Kempfer.
But, he stated, Pyongyang is not now capable of a Cold War-era apocalyptic annihilation nuclear strike. As of today, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is only capable of delivering a much smaller, somewhat Hiroshima-sized charge, that would not destroy the entire city of Los Angeles, but would still trigger a major catastrophe.
"A lot of people [would] be killed," he said, estimating the number of casualties in the "tens of thousands."
"But a large percentage of the population will survive. They will be at risk and they will need help," he added.
According to Kempfer, a DPRK nuclear blast would barely reach Long Beach airport, about 5 miles from the beach. Everything within this radius, though, will be pretty much be "toast," he said. The airport, however, is somewhat protected by the terrain, which makes it a viable option for setting up a headquarters for emergency responders.
A nuclear explosion in downtown Los Angeles would cause other effects, he noted, including an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would kill all electronics nearby, including basic electric appliances, car engines and phone lines. A call for help and even handling most basic needs could become very complicated, if not impossible.
Those drivers who can start their cars will find themselves stuck in a gigantic traffic jam as panicking people flee the city in fear of "follow-up" attacks, he noted.
Earlier this year, authorities in northern California issued an evacuation order over a possible dam failure in in Oroville. Evacuating drivers, however, found themselves in what the Sacramento Bee described as "the scariest traffic jam they will ever know," as outbound roads could not handle the flow.
In the event of a nuclear attack on Los Angeles, however, those who remain, will have to deal with radioactive fallout, known to be most deadly in the initial hours after a detonation.
According to Kempfer, authorities need to create a well-coordinated emergency response plan to keep society from plunging into chaos, with riots and gunfights over food and supplies. Kempfer envisioned such social deterioration in a 2006 report that speculated on al-Qaeda smuggling a small nuclear device in a shipping container.
According to Kempfer, people must be educated as to what they can do to protect themselves from the effects of nuclear strike using basic commodities, like plastic sheeting to keep radiation from getting into houses through broken windows.
In the meantime, the DHS has posted an online guide to prepare for a nuclear attack, and how to survive it.
According to the defense contractor and security analyst, the best thing to do dso as to survive an attack is to avoid being "blown up."
"That helps," he said.