Panic over false missile alert shows US must 'absolutely and immediately' talk to North Korea: Hawaii congresswoman

PHOTO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. PlayJ. Scott Applewhite/AP, FILE
WATCH Hawaiian congresswoman calls false missile alarm 'an epic failure of leadership'

A Hawaii congresswoman said the false alert of a missile attack in her state shows the need to try to lessen the chance of nuclear warfare.

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“Nuclear attack is not a game,” Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday. She said she hopes “the rest of the country… leaders in Washington pay attention to … this threat of nuclear war.”

Stephanopoulos asked if she thinks the U.S. should talk directly to North Korea.

"Absolutely and immediately," Gabbard responded. “This is something that I have been calling for a long time. I have been talking about the seriousness of this threat posed to the people of Hawaii and this country coming from North Korea. The people of Hawaii are paying the price now for decades of failed leadership in this country of failure to directly negotiate” with North Korea.

The congresswoman added, “We've got to understand why Kim Jong Un is saying he's not going to give up his nuclear weapons. Our country's history of regime-change wars has led countries like North Korea to develop and hold on to these nuclear weapons because they see it as their only deterrent against regime change.”

An emergency alert of an imminent missile threat to Hawaii was broadcast and sent to mobile phones across the state at about 8:07 a.m. on Saturday, causing panic.

It turned out the alert was a mistake due to a worker's hitting the wrong button during a routine procedure. Gabbard was the first official to tweet out that the alarm was false, which she did at 8:24 a.m.

But it took 38 minutes for an official correction of the alert to get broadcast around the state.

Gabbard said to Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “You can only imagine, George, the panic, the terror, the chaos and confusion that ensued when over a million people in Hawaii, plus many visitors who were visiting Hawaii, got that alert on their cell phones, now understanding that they literally just have minutes, minutes to say goodbye to their loved ones, to find their loved ones, to try to find some kind for shelter somewhere.”

“The fact that it took so long for them to put out that second message, to calm people, to allay their fears -- that this was a mistake,” the congresswoman said.