In an official report to Congress, The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States From Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack revealed that North Korea poses “an existential threat” to the United States. This report comes soon after the Department of Defense terminated the funding of the EMP Commission in late September.
Earlier in September, North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb that the Commission (as well as Russia and China) described as a capable “super-powerful EMP” weapon. The report states that critics of the EMP Commission have been wrong about important aspects of the threat North Korea poses to the United States as well:
- North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was thought to be small and primitive, and is now estimated at 60 total nuclear weapons including hydrogen bombs.
- Its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were thought to be fake, and are now estimated to reach as far as Denver or Chicago.
However scary these recent revelations are, the EMP commission argues that the biggest threat North Korea poses isn’t even acknowledged: a nuclear EMP attack. The report states North Korea doesn’t require an ICBM to do that. They could launch a short-range missile from a ship or even from a balloon. This “low altitude” detonation, if targeted correctly, could blackout the entire Eastern electric power grid – which generates 75% of the United States’ electricity.
The worst threat of them all, and the one that could result in the deaths of up to 90% of Americans, would be an EMP attack from a satellite. While such an action would be considered extremely irrational on the part of Kim Jong Un, he has already repeatedly uttered colorful threats to obliterate the United States. The report argues we should not assume that Kim Jong Un will act rationally.
Despite the threat posed by North Korea, Congress has not been asked at this time by either the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security to reinstate the EMP Commission’s funding.