Recent press articles warn about the possibility of the North Koreans launching an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States, and there are even suggestions that the recent missile test failures may represent a thinly veiled EMP threat. However, such an attack from North Korea is unlikely, as it would require the North to have much larger nuclear weapons and the missile capability to deliver them.
It’s possible North Korea already has deployed an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon capable of killing 90 percent of the population, and it’s passing over the United States each day.
That’s what Peter Vincent Pry, the staff director for the Congressional EMP Commission, believes. North Korea has two satellites circling the globe that the U.S. knows little about.
“The threat we’re most concerned about is a nuclear EMP attack, and North Korea might well be able to do that right now,” Pry said.
An EMP weapon is a low-yield nuclear bomb that generates electromagnetic energy that would fry all electronics – including the power grid.
North Korea’s two satellites are called Kwangmyŏngsŏng (KMS)-3 and KMS-4.
“You almost never hear about this in the press,”. (KMS-3) is still up there, and it passes over the United States in a South-polar trajectory. South-polar trajectories are significant because we don’t have any ballistic missile early-warning radars facing South. We don’t have any interceptors facing South. We’re blind and defenseless.”
He added that KMS-3 is “at the optimum altitude for putting an EMP field down over all 48 contiguous United States.”
America’s defenses are set up to stop Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMS) fired over the North Pole, but not a satellite on a trajectory like KMS-3, Pry said.
“An electromagnetic pulse, a single weapon, detonated at that altitude would fry electronics, black out the electrical grid completely — not just temporarily but possibly forever,” Pry said.
“We, the Congressional EMP Commission, estimate that if we have a blackout that lasts one year — which an EMP attack could do — we would lose 90 percent of our population to starvation, disease and societal collapse,” Pry warned. “We’re an electronic civilization. We can’t survive without electronics.”
“There’s only enough food in the country for 30 days, and it begins to spoil in three days because the emergency generators in the big regional fuel warehouses only have enough fuel for three days,” Pry said. “So, in three days the food supply will start spoiling.”
Nuclear Plants a Concern, Too
Starvation would be just one of the horrors of an EMP apocalypse.
“The nuclear reactors — we’ve got 100 of them — would go Fukushima in seven days,” Pry said.
Nuclear reactors are cooled by water moved by electric pumps. If the pumps shut down, the reactors overheat and cause steam explosions.
“In effect, it turns all those nuclear reactors and their cooling ponds into dirty bombs that would spread dangerous levels of radioactivity all over the country,” Pry said.
Additionally, in a long-term blackout gas and oil pipelines would explode and trigger massive firestorms that could engulf entire cities.
“We’re not set up for blackouts that last a week,” Pry said. “And we’re talking in a nuclear EMP attack a blackout that would last at least a year. … If you lose 90 percent of your population you’re never coming back. You can’t recover the grid when nine out of 10 people are dead. That’s what North Korea could do.”
Pry also noted that the strength of North Korea’s first nuclear bomb, tested in 2006, was consistent with the explosive force needed for an EMP superweapon. Such a weapon would only weigh around 100 pounds and could fit in a satellite.