Vulnerable to EMPs
North Korea has a weapon capable of crippling the United States's power grid, and U.S. congress has now been warned of the full threat that it poses. An EMP attack could lead to the deaths of up to "90 percent of Americans."
In a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on Thursday, members of the recently defunded EMP Commission informed congress of the devastation an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack could inflict on the country. In a commissioned report, former EMP Commissions chairman, William Graham, and its former chief of staff, Peter Vincent Pry, referred to North Korea using an EMP as a "doomsday scenario," citing Kim Jong-Un's well-documented threats to turn the U.S. to "ashes."
It could use its demonstrated satellite launcher to carry a nuclear weapon over the South Polar region and detonate it…over the United States to create a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse ... The result could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans.
This isn't the first time U.S. vulnerabilities to an EMP attack have been discussed, In 2014, Forbes' Peter Kelly-Detwiler wrote that such a threat, if acted upon, could make 9/11 look childish by comparison.
"There have been an enormous increase in our dependency on electronics, computers, and microelectronics," said Graham during a interview with Forbes. "An attack may never happen. But the more vulnerable the U.S. is to such an attack, the more likely it is to be used against us."
Failing to Act
According to Graham and Pry, the U.S. has ignored concerns about North Korea's capabilities for quite some time. In the last six months alone, the former EMP Commission provided information regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons — including how many nukes it has, its ability to create miniaturized weapons, and how far away it was from developing hydrogen bombs. The organizations critics, however, openly dismissed the warnings.
Now that the EMP Commission's predictions have been confirmed by North Korea's recent displays of power, the threats of an EMP attack should be taken seriously. Even the Doomsday Clock has been moved forward as a result of North Korea's nuclear tests — a relatively small thing to be impacted, but the symbolism is significant.
"It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue, and give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP," the experts reported to a Homeland Security subcommittee.
Congress' discussion about North Korea's EMP capabilities comes not too long after South Korea revealed its own bombs that could disrupt a nation's electrical equipment. South Korea's military said it would use these "blackout bombs" against North Korea if it appeared to be preparing to make a move. However, the South Korea said no such preparations have been observed — yet.