Sunday morning’s news that North Korea had launched what appeared to be its sixth and most powerful nuclear test was indeed unsettling. But now, the rogue dictatorship has ratcheted up its terrorism another level by threatening our country with shutting down the U.S. electricity grid through an electromagnetic pulse, otherwise known as an EMP attack.
DML NEWS has been warning our readers about this danger since April, after former CIA director R. James Woolsey published an op-ed on March 29, warning that North Korea has the capacity to “kill 90 percent of all Americans” with an EMP attack.
CEO of DML NEWS, Dennis Michael Lynch, sent a letter to the president on Sunday evening asking him to please consider moving swiftly again North Korea. He stated, “You must take a preemptive strike now and eliminate the ability for North Korea to kill millions of Americans.”
Through miniaturization, North Korea has developed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) which could conceivably deliver nuclear warheads via long-range missiles to be detonated a few hundred miles above the continental U.S., causing a high-altitude electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) attack.
North Korea’s state news agency made a rare reference to the tactic in a Sunday morning release in which the country said it was able to load a hydrogen bomb onto a long-range missile. The bomb, North Korea said, “is a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack.”
An EMP attack would conceivably knock out power in much of the U.S. Unlike the U.S. atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, such a weapon wouldn’t directly destroy buildings or kill people. Instead, electromagnetic waves from the nuclear explosion would generate pulses to overwhelm the electrical grid and electronic devices in the same way a lightning surge can destroy equipment.
In a worst-case scenario, the outages could last for months, indirectly costing many lives, since hospitals would be without power, emergency services couldn’t function normally, and food and water shortages would ensue.
Lawmakers have been warned of this threat for many years, including in a 2008 report commissioned by Congress that warned an EMP attack could bring “widespread and long lasting disruption and damage to the critical infrastructures that underpin the fabric of U.S. society.”
This news resurfaced in early May, when Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security as well as the chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission, said North Korean satellites are currently orbiting the U.S. in patterns that suggest they are planning an EMP attack.
When the U.S. tested a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific in 1962, it resulted in lights burning out in Honolulu, nearly 1,000 miles from the test site. Naturally occurring electromagnetic events on the sun can also disrupt power systems. A 1989 blackout in Quebec came days after powerful explosions on the sun expelled a cloud of charged particles that struck earth’s magnetic field, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Skeptics say the danger of an EMP attack is exaggerated; it’s not easy for an enemy such as North Korea to calibrate the attack in such a way that it would be guaranteed to deliver maximum damage to the U.S. electrical grid. If a North Korean bomb did not exactly hit is target location, it might knock out only a few devices or just a few parts of the grid.
The 1962 U.S. nuclear test, which involved a bomb with a force of 1.4 megatons, didn’t disrupt telephone or radio service in Hawaii, although some experts warn that today’s electronic devices are much more vulnerable. North Korea said its hydrogen bomb had the explosive power of tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons.
Some say that a traditional nuclear attack directed at a large city is a more likely scenario.
A rogue state would prefer a “spectacular and direct ground burst in preference to an unreliable and uncertain EMP strike. A weapon of mass destruction is preferable to a weapon of mass disruption,” wrote physicist Yousaf M. Butt in a 2010 analysis.
With the specific threat of an EMP attack, action is certainly warranted at this time.
Those who are knowledgeable about the threat said that there are technological ways for our country to defend itself, such as designing electrical-grid components to withstand sudden pulses, just as the grid is already protected against lightning strikes and building backup systems that could step in for the principal electrical grids in an emergency.
But this latest statement does take the terror threat to an entirely new level.
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