Millions of American lives could be at stake as North Korea threatens to attack power grid

North Korea may very well have the ability to kill tens of thousands of Americans, with no immediately firing on U.S. soil. For the first time, the pariah state’s state news agency warned it could hit the U.S. with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) onslaught, a threat that experts contend is both very real and features catastrophic consequences.

“The biggest danger would be shorting out of the energy grid, especially around the East Coast. Imagine a scenario where large parts of the U.S. had no power. Envision New York or Washington D.C. with no power for just a week. The implications would be Difficult to fathom,” Director of Defense Studies in the Center for the National Interest, Harry Kazianis, told Fox News. “The casualty rates would be off the charts. ”

According to Kazianis, power grids would not be just fried by an EMP delivered by a nuclear weapon but also carry a nuclear device’s energy.

“This where it’s dropped and in it of itself is going to kill thousands if not millions depending upon its size. Also, nuclear weapons take radioactive fallout that would be spread thousands of miles throughout oceans and the atmosphere,&rdquo. “We would be adding to cancer cases that would arise years sadly for decades thanks to a casualty count. ”

So could an EMP attack be pulled off by North Korea? A hydrogen bomb detonated in a high altitude would create an electromagnetic pulse that would knock out key infrastructure — namely notable parts of the U.S. electric grid.

The more complicated the bomb’s detonation, the broader the range of destruction. Electronics would be — annihilated by an altitude of just under 250 miles — around the orbit of the International Space Station in majority including elements of neighboring Canada and Mexico, analysts have said. North Korea shown its capability to reach altitudes in satellite launches in 2012 and 2016.


An EMP attack, experts warn, doesn’t need definitive guidance systems as the area is widespread.

“An EMP is similar to a lightning strike in certain respects, but it behaves over a broad area — hundreds of miles,” clarified John Gilbert, retired Air Force colonel and senior science fellow with the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation in Washington, D.C. “There would be widespread and likely long-lasting energy outages and wire-line telecommunications methods such as telephone and TV/internet cable would suffer considerable harm. Items such as trucks and cars could be damaged or disabled and harm could occur to devices in homes and businesses. ”

Electricity could cut to healthcare facilities and cripple utilities and facilities.

“North Korea always exceeds our estimates of what we believe they can do, therefore prudence might indicate we consider them at their own word,” noted Lieutenant General Wallace Gregson (USMC, Ret.) , the assistant defense secretary, now Senior Director of China and the Pacific in the Middle. “The intent is to shut down our electric grid and all of the supply networks — water fiscal, traffic direction, air control, radio, computer, others — we all depend upon. ”

Scientists discovered the EMP fallout of a hydrogen bomb in a test in 1962, where lights were burnt out from the test location — some 1,000 miles in Honolulu.

Experts have warned from the likes of North Korea or Iran. A special task force appointed by Congress and called the EMP Commission cautioned in 2008 that the mostly digitized U.S. could be left black for as much as a year as a consequence of an EMP disturbance. They state that monitors and even the detectors that function following a power outage to electronics will be wiped out.


Yet apparently was done to tackle the catastrophe.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported last year that the national government had failed to employ a range of recommendations that they had made eight years earlier to stop calamitous outages triggered by an EMP incursion, noting that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Energy (DOE) hadn’t “recognized that a coordinated approach to identifying and executing crucial risk management activities to tackle EMP dangers” and that procuring the grid proved to be far from your top priority.


Richard Schoeberl, a terrorism analyst and former unit chief in the CIA’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), claimed that while North Korea’s own proclamations of having the capacity to strike the U.S. with an EMP attack might be well be over-exaggerated, it’s a threat that requires serious mitigations.

“The United States can provide far better protection of the nation’s infrastructure,” he told Fox News. “EMP’s danger is plausible. ”

“Many of our East Coast grid includes a great deal of older gear that could be vulnerable. We ought to work to create the upgrades that are necessary to ensure North Korea can’t catch us by surprise,” Kazianis added. “We are highly vulnerable to an attack. Considering that if North Koreans can pack power they could fry countless electric grids and gear. Should they use a massive apparatus that is enough the harm could be beyond view. ”

Department of Energy and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Hollie McKay has been a staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively on the rise and collapse of groups such as ISIS at Iraq from the Middle East. Follow her on twitter in @holliesmckay

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