By Scott Weiser
North Korea now has the technology to bring America to its knees. It has already launched intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States. The most recent launch flew directly over Japan. Now Kim Jong Un evidently possesses a working thermonuclear warhead.
According to a source in Asia it is believed that the primary obstacle to a targeted, precision, low-altitude nuclear attack on a city has been the lack of heat shielding to protect the warhead on its reentry into the atmosphere. Observations of recent North Korean missile tests indicate that this may no longer be a problem.
Worse is that North Korea has almost certainly achieved the ability to destroy most of America’s technology in an instant without needing re-entry heat shielding. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sept. 2nd that North Korea has for the first time openly threatened to use an EMP weapon. This threat would be consistent with Kim Jong Un’s repeated rhetoric that he can perpetrate a crippling nuclear catastrophe in America. With North Korea’s lack of missiles and warheads a surface strike on the US, while certainly a catastrophe, would hardly cripple the United States.
But an EMP warhead doesn’t have to reenter the atmosphere to deliver a devastating blow. Detonated 200 to 300 miles over the central U.S., a single device has the capacity to wipe out the entire electrical grid and most computer infrastructure.
Nuclear weapons produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) when detonated. This pulse is strong enough fry the huge high-voltage transformers that serve our electrical grid, which would shut it down instantly. It could take years to restore the electrical grid alone.
These transformers are custom-manufactured and take years to build. There are no backups waiting to be installed. Government reports on the EMP threat have for decades been reporting that we are woefully unprepared to deal with an EMP event, which includes not just an attack but also includes a massive solar flare that can have the same sort of effects.
Such an attack would destroy computers, cell phone systems, emergency services radio systems, modern automobiles and trucks, industrial computer control systems and even emergency back-up generators.
Without power to operate water systems and damage to pumps and control systems that filter and deliver drinking water to cities nationwide, deaths from lack of water are certain and large cities will become uninhabitable. Destruction of food harvesting, processing, distribution and transportation systems would create widespread famine and starvation within months.
In the early 2000s, during a brief thaw in relations with Russia, the U.S. Government’s EMP Commission went to Moscow and was told that not only had the Soviet Union handed over a design for a super-EMP weapon to North Korea, but also that two of the scientists in charge of the Soviet Union’s EMP research were themselves in North Korea. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that Kim Jong Un has been working to perfect an EMP weapon.
In an interview at the Western Conservative Summit with Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy he said, “What we were told were failures in terms of the five nuclear tests that the North Koreans have done, because they were relatively low yield or at least low seismic signature, could well be explained by what is a low-blast, high gamma-ray design which is exactly what a super-EMP weapon is.”
A few days ago a much larger seismic signature was detected in North Korea that likely confirms Kim Jong Un’s claim to an operative high-power thermonuclear device.
The United States can no longer ignore this threat, something it’s been doing for more than a decade now. In the short term our anti-ballistic missile defense systems must be deployed and enhanced to provide the best chance of intercepting and destroying an incoming missile and diplomatic efforts to force China to put a leash on North Korea or face a trade embargo are needed.
In the long term, Congress needs to squarely face the EMP issue and begin a program of hardening our electrical grid and critical infrastructure against EMP damage caused by a bomb or by the sun.