At a hearing at the House Committee on Homeland Security, William R. Graham and Peter Vincent Pry gave testimony that should North Korea choose to attack the United States with a nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon, not only would the entire national electric power grid become knocked out indefinitely, it could kill 90 percent of 90 percent of "all Americans" within a year. The experts told the committee that North Korea can easily resort to a "doomsday scenario" to reduce the US to ashes.
The witnesses called on President Donald Trump and the Department of Defense to immediately take steps to protect the electric grid, saying that by detonating a high-altitude nuclear bomb via missile or satellite, North Korea could “shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans."
The threat to the US from North Korea has never been greater, said Graham and Pry. "With the development of small nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles by new, radical U.S. adversaries, beginning with North Korea, the threat of a nuclear EMP attack against the U.S. becomes one of the few ways that such a country could inflict devastating damage to the United States. It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue, and give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP," they said.
Graham, who chaired the former commission on EMP, and former chief of staff Pry, said that previous administrations have ignored warning signs emanating from North Korea, whose military moves of this year must be recognize. Earlier this year, experts believed that North Korea's nuclear arsenal was primitive, with some asserting that the communist republic had as few as six nuclear bombs. However, the intelligence community reportedly estimates North Korea has 60 nuclear weapons and has the capability of striking Chicago and Denver, and perhaps the entire US.
The intelligence community reportedly believes that North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons, and has developed reentry vehicles for missile delivery, including by ICBMs that can strike the homeland. Previous intelligence failures grossly underestimated North Korea's long-range missiles, nuclear weapons, warhead miniaturization, and ability to produce a hydrogen bomb. Another threat unacknowledged, said the witnesses in House testimony on Thursday, is a nuclear EMP attack. Pentagon and Congress failed to extend the life of the EMP commission, said Pry and Graham. They recommend further study into the threat of an EMP or even aberrant solar activity to the electric grid. "Our current vulnerability invites attack," they said.
The EMP commission was created in 2001 and lasted until September 30, 2017, when neither DoD nor Homeland Security asked for it to continue.
Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.