North Korea is educating its workforce, including industrial workers and farmers, about nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. This further confirms warnings by the Congressional EMP Commission that North Korea has a sophisticated understanding of EMP and contingency plans to attack the U.S. and its allies.
Pyongyang’s Workers Party of Korea is circulating an official internal document on EMP, obtained and photographed by the Daily NK, as reported by Mun Dong Hui (Nov. 23, 2018):
“An internal document recently obtained by Daily NK has a section on the power of nuclear EMP attack. The notebook explains in detail what a nuclear EMP attack is and what kind of damage such an attack can do.”
For example, the document accurately assesses, if a nuclear weapon “explodes 30-100 kilometers above the ground, electronic machines and devices are severely damaged or their electricity cables are destroyed beyond repair.”
“The notebook further states,” according to Daily NK, “that nuclear EMP attacks are acknowledged widely as an important way to execute an attack against enemy forces.”
This too is correct. The Congressional EMP Commission’s 2017 Executive Report “Assessing the Threat from EMP Attack” warns:
“Combined-arms cyber warfare, as described in the military doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, may use combinations of cyber, sabotage, and ultimately nuclear EMP attack to impair the United States quickly and decisively by blacking-out large portions of the electric grid and other critical infrastructures.”
On Sept. 3, 2017, North Korean state news, KCNA, displayed photos of an alleged thermonuclear missile warhead, and apparently tested an H-bomb, described as capable of “super-powerful EMP attack”:
“The H-bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons, is a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack according to strategic goals.”
Pyongyang published a technical report “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing Super-EMP weapons.
Recently, on Nov. 16, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un reportedly inspected a “newly developed, ultra-modern” mystery weapon. South Korean analysts, anxious to keep on track negotiations to denuclearize North Korea, speculate the “mystery weapon” is merely a non-nuclear multiple rocket launcher.
But KCNA’s description sounds more worrisome, “The state-of-the-art weapon that has been long developed under the leadership of our party’s dynamic leadership has a meaning of completely safeguarding our territory and significantly improving the combat power of our people’s army.”
On April 30, 2017, South Korean officials told Korea Times and YTN TV that North Korea’s test of a medium-range missile on April 29 — launched straight-up and deliberately detonated at 72 kilometers altitude above North Korea — might have been practicing fusing for a nuclear EMP attack by a new warhead designed to defeat an invasion of North Korea, “It’s believed the explosion was a test to develop a nuclear weapon different from existing ones.”
Japan’s Tetsuro Kosaka wrote in Nikkei, “Pyongyang could be saying, ‘We could launch an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack if things get really ugly.'”
North Korea’s April 29, 2017, missile was fired on a lofted trajectory, to maximize, not range, but climbing to high-altitude as quickly as possible, where it successfully fused at the optimum altitude for nuclear EMP attack — testing everything but an actual nuclear warhead.
At 72 kilometers altitude, the EMP field would cover all of North and South Korea and littoral waters, potentially paralyzing U.S. and South Korean ground, air, and naval forces.
North Korean military forces and civilian infrastructure mostly use old-fashioned electronics that are one million times less vulnerable to EMP than modern electronics used by U.S. and South Korean high-tech forces.
Moreover, since North Korea would know exactly when it will execute an EMP attack, they could shelter and turn-off their military and civilian electronic systems, making them even more survivable. Canceling the U.S. and allied advantage in battlefield electronics would almost certainly mean defeat in a new Korean War.
Pyongyang has also demonstrated the capability to detonate a nuclear warhead for EMP attack about 100 kilometers over Tokyo. The EMP field would cover all of Japan and most of South Korea, but not North Korea.
North Korea could be training workers to turn-off and shelter electric systems to protect them from an EMP attack initiated by North Korea, or a retaliatory EMP strike by the U.S.
The EMP Commission warns that North Korea has two satellites orbiting over North America that could be armed for surprise EMP attack.
In 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2016, North Korea used a non-nuclear “EMP cannon” to jam South Korean communications, cars, and over 2,000 aircraft.
South Korean experts warn, according to Daily NK:
“The widespread failure of South Korea’s mass communications system due to an EMP attack and its effect on national infrastructure and military command systems could lead to widespread chaos, experts warn, and they are calling on the government to take measures to prepare for such attacks.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s recently published National EMP Strategy ignores the EMP Commission’s call for immediate action and would continue studying the EMP threat until 2026.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of “Blackout Wars.” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.