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Trump Has 'No Defense' From Direct Nuclear Hit: Expert

Newsweek logo Newsweek 2/12/2018 Jessica Kwong

From the White House to his “Winter White House” Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump has multiple bomb shelters at his disposal—but no bunker, however well-designed, would survive a direct nuclear hit.

"There's no defense against the tremendous blast and heat," Kenneth Rose, author of One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture, told BBC in a report published Monday.

North Korea, the glaring nuclear threat to the U.S., claimed that its most recent missile test in late November proved it was capable of hitting anywhere in the U.S. mainland, including Washington, D.C. 

Pyongyang's imminent threats under the Kim Jong Un regime has sparked a surge in Google searches for "how to survive a nuclear attack" last August, but several experts pointed out that surviving a nuclear attack on any region in the world is unlikely. 

Related: North Korea Threat: Nuclear War With U.S. Closer Than Ever, Retired Admiral Says

Despite the vulnerability of bunkers, U.S. officials have an entrance plan for the president and a select few top officials, if they survive the initial blow, to direct the nation in a secure location.

President Donald Trump arrives for a new year's party at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on December 31, 2017.: 02_12_18_TrumpBunkers © NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 02_12_18_TrumpBunkers

"You have to maintain a chain of command, or there'd be complete chaos," Randy Sowell, an archivist at the Truman President Library in Missouri, told BBC.

One bunker is located at an obvious place—under the White House—in a fortified area constructed in the 1950s. Another secluded bunker is in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Trump even has a few bunkers at his own resorts as a result of buying properties with historical significance, including Mar-a-Lago and his Seven Springs mansion in Westchester, New York. The government built another bunker in the 1940s—at what is now Trump’s golf course in West Palm Beach—to store bombs in a manner that if they exploded, they wouldn't "blow half of Palm Beach County to kingdom come,” Trump told Esquirein 2007.

Former President Harry Truman in the 1950s oversaw the establishment of a federal civil defense administration to spread the message that nuclear warfare doesn’t necessarily mean an apocalypse for the entire nation.

Sowell referenced a U.S. strategic bombing survey, which found that about 30 percent of people who died after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki would have survived had they had access to fallout shelters.

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