The West consistently and unwittingly cooperates with North Korea by underestimating the advancement, sophistication, and strategic implications of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. Thus, under the nose of the U.S. Intelligence Community, North Korea surprised the world by demonstrating ICBMs that could target any city in the United States and a hydrogen bomb in the summer of 2017.
North Korea’s KMS-3 and KMS-4 satellites orbit over the U.S. daily. Their trajectory is similar to that planned for a Soviet-era secret weapon called the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) deployed by the USSR to make a surprise High-altitude EMP (HEMP) attack on the United States. Trajectories of North Korea’s KMS-3 and KMS-4 satellites are near optimal for a HEMP attack on the U.S., if they are nuclear-armed.
HEMP attack does not require much accuracy or a reentry vehicle capable of penetrating the atmosphere and is well within North Korea’s technological capabilities.
Multiple credible foreign sources including from South Korea, China, and Russia—including two of Russia’s foremost EMP weapons experts—allege the design for Russia’s Super-EMP nuclear weapon leaked or was transferred to North Korea and that North Korea has developed Super-EMP weapons.
Super-EMP weapons are typically small, lightweight, and low-yield (designed to emit enhanced gamma rays not make a big explosion) and could fit within North Korea’s KMS-3 and KMS-4 satellites; or be delivered against the U.S. by North Korean ICBMs; or be delivered against Japan, Guam, or the Philippines by North Korean IRBMs or MRBMs like the Nodong; or against South Korea by a wide array of North Korean SRBMs.
Super-EMP weapons generate extraordinarily powerful EMP fields, potentially 100 kilovolts/meter or higher, greatly exceeding the U.S. military HEMP hardening standard 50 kilovolts/meter. U.S. civilian critical infrastructures like the national electric power grid, that are indispensable to U.S. military power projection capabilities, are unprotected against HEMP.
According to North Korea state media, their September 2017 H-bomb is also a Super-EMP weapon: “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 at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP according to strategic goals.”
Immediately following their September 2017 H-bomb test, North Korea published a technical report “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing a Super-EMP nuclear weapon.
North Korea has non-nuclear EMP weapons including an “EMP Cannon” used to impose an “electromagnetic blockade” on air traffic to Seoul, South Korea’s capitol, making repeated attacks that also disrupted communications and the operation of automobiles in several South Korean cities in December 2010; March 9, 2011; and April-May 2012.
NORTH KOREA: EMP THREAT Denial and Deception
The “Hermit Kingdom” is the most successfully secretive nation in the world about its internal matters, especially its defense programs. For over a decade, beginning in 1995, successive U.S. administrations, Democrat and Republican alike, were deceived into thinking that North Korea was negotiating an “Agreed Framework” to abandon its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid—until North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006.
Then the low-yields of North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 and the second nuclear test in 2009 misled many analysts to assume these were failed tests, that North Korea’s nuclear weapon does not work. This despite warnings from the Congressional EMP Commission beginning in 2004 that North Korea was developing a Super-EMP nuclear warhead.
Pyongyang consistently tries hiding its real capabilities. For example, on December 12, 2012, North Korea successfully misled Western analysts into thinking that their long-range missile test, scheduled for that day, was canceled due to technical problems. This lowered expectations and may have reduced the vigilance of some in the West monitoring North Korea’s missile test—which launched successfully just hours later.
The West consistently and unwittingly cooperates with North Korea by underestimating the advancement, sophistication, and strategic implications of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. Thus, under the nose of the U.S. Intelligence Community, North Korea surprised the world by demonstrating ICBMs that could target any city in the United States and a hydrogen bomb in the summer of 2017. Reportedly, in 2017 U.S. Intelligence Community analysts also revised sharply upward their estimated number of North Korean nuclear weapons from about 20 to 60 and also concluded North Korea can miniaturize warheads for missile delivery—facts some Western analysts are still unwilling to face.
In fact, five years earlier, North Korea already had an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the United States, as demonstrated by their successful launch and orbiting of a satellite on December 12, 2012. Yet the view was widespread in the press and among policymakers—both poorly informed or willfully blind to the North Korean threat— that North Korea was still years away from being able to miniaturize warheads for missile delivery, and from developing sufficiently accurate missiles to pose a serious nuclear threat to the United States. Typical in the media was Philip Yun, director of San Francisco’s Ploughshares Fund, a nuclear disarmament group, who reportedly said of North Korea’s successful ICBM test, “The real threat from the launch was an overreaction that would lead to more defense spending on unnecessary systems. The sky is not falling. We shouldn’t be panicked.”
In fact, North Korea is a mortal nuclear threat to the United States—right now. North Korea has labored for years and starved its people so it could develop an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the United States. Why? Because they have a special kind of nuclear weapon that could destroy the United States with a single blow.
In 2004, members of the congressional EMP Commission met with two Russian generals, Moscow’s top strategic experts on EMP weaponry. The generals disclosed that Russia has a decisive new nuclear weapon—a Super-EMP warhead.
However, the main purpose of the demarche by the Russian generals to the Commission was to warn that knowledgeable Russian and other foreign scientists, and design information about the Super-EMP weapon, had leaked to North Korea. They warned that North Korea armed with SuperEMP nuclear weapons “would pose a threat to global civilization.” They further stated that North Korea armed with Super-EMP weapons would pose so great a threat that “while Moscow could not publicly support a U.S. preemptive strike against North Korea to stop their nuclear weapons program, it would privately understand the necessity.”
It is possible, even likely, that this “warning” from Russian Generals about North Korea’s SuperEMP weapon was to cover Moscow’s tracks transferring Super-EMP and other technology to North Korea, to make it appear an accident of nuclear “brain drain” to North Korea not intended by Moscow.
During their 2004 demarche, the Russian generals warned the EMP Commission that North Korea could develop a Super-EMP nuclear weapon “in a few years.” A few years later, in 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, of a device that looks suspiciously like a Super-EMP weapon. Because the North Korean device had a very low yield, about 1-2 kilotons, most experts dismissed tthe nuclear test as a failure, despite claims by North Korea that the device worked as planned.
However, a Super-EMP weapon would have a low-yield, like the North Korean device, because it is not designed to create a big explosion, but to convert its energy into gamma rays, that generate the HEMP effect. In 2009, a second North Korean nuclear test looked like the first, and was again declared a failure by many in the West, and a success by North Korea. A third North Korean nuclear test on February 12, 2013, again had a low-yield, estimated by South Korea to be 6-9 kilotons, again consistent with a Super-EMP warhead designed to maximize fast gamma ray output.
In 2011, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Ronald Burgess, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea has weaponized its nuclear device into warheads for arming ballistic missiles. This confirms that North Korea’s nuclear tests were, in fact, successful. The North Koreans would not arm their missiles with duds. European intelligence agencies concluded that North Korea armed with nuclear warheads Nodong missiles capable of striking Japan in 2009. The CIA’s top East Asia analyst publicly stated that North Korea had successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads for missile delivery in a 2008 interview. So North Korea now has missiles armed with nuclear warheads, of mysterious design.
During this period of North Korea’s development of nuclear warheads, several press reports citing South Korean military intelligence concluded, independently of the EMP Commission, that Russian scientists are in North Korea helping develop a Super-EMP nuclear weapon. In 2010, according to some reputable European analysts, radio isotope data indicates North Korea may have conducted two clandestine nuclear tests of a very low yield nuclear device of sophisticated fusion design. In 2012, a military commentator for the People’s Republic of China told a Hong Kong journal that North Korea has Super-EMP nuclear warheads.
General Michael Dunn during President George W. Bush’s administration served several years in Seoul as “the lead negotiator with the KPA at the DMZ, and had been to 4 party talks, 6 party talks, etc…In Pyongyang, we had lots of meetings with the North Koreans. The last one…they told us they were working on a bomb bigger than a nuclear weapon. We thought at the time…bigger than a nuclear weapon? What’s bigger than that?...We were later told by a People’s Republic of China vice minister and a couple of Russian general officers that North Korea was working on a Super-EMP weapon…I made sure it was in the cables going back to DC. The cables went to Defense, State, NSC Staff, and Joint Staff, plus the Intelligence Community.”
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