North Korea reportedly is rebuilding its Sohae satellite launch facility, widely interpreted as threatening to resume intercontinental missile development — ignoring the greater immediate threat from North Korea’s satellites and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
Dr. William Graham, EMP Commission Chairman, in "North Korea Nuclear EMP Attack: An Existential Threat," on Oct. 12, 2017, warned Congress:
"While most analysts are fixated on when in the future North Korea will develop highly reliable intercontinental missiles, guidance systems, and reentry vehicles capable of striking a U.S. city, the threat here and now from EMP is largely ignored. EMP attack does not require an accurate guidance system because the area of effect, having a radius of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, is so large.
"No reentry vehicle is needed because the warhead is detonated at high-altitude, above the atmosphere. Missile reliability matters little because only one missile has to work to make an EMP attack against an entire nation."
Moreover: " . . . an EMP attack might be made by a North Korean satellite, right now. A Super-EMP weapon could be relatively small and lightweight, and could fit inside North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 (KMS-3) and Kwangmyongsong-4 (KMS-4) satellites. These two satellites presently orbit over the United States . . . The south polar trajectory of KMS-3 and KMS-4 evades U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radars and National Missile Defenses, resembling a Russian secret weapon developed during the Cold War, called the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) that would have used a nuclear-armed satellite to make a surprise EMP attack on the United States."
The Congressional EMP Commission Chairman’s Report (available from Amazon.com) in “Are North Korea’s Satellites An EMP Threat?” answers affirmatively, noting technology transfer from Russia to North Korea of Super-EMP weapon technology:
"They said North Korea could test a Super-EMP weapon 'in a few years.' The 2006 and subsequent low-yield tests do not appear to have been failures because North Korea proceeded with weaponization.
"In 1997, Andrey Kokoshin, then Russia’s First Deputy Defense Minister, stated Russia was deploying a new generation of advanced nuclear weapons 'that have no counterparts in the world' including EMP weapons and ‘ultra-small warheads weighing less than 90 kilograms.' Such weapons would be small enough for North Korea’s satellites."
Ambassador Henry Cooper, former Director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, and a preeminent expert on missile defenses and space weapons, has written numerous articles warning about the potential North Korean EMP threat from their satellites:
North Korea…could use its demonstrated satellite launcher to carry a nuclear weapon over the South Polar region and detonate it . . . over the United States to create a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) . . . The result could be to 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 — as the EMP Commission testified over eight years ago. (Sept. 20, 2016)
Former NASA rocket scientist James Oberg visited North Korea’s Sohae space launch base, witnessed elaborate measures undertaken to conceal space launch payloads, and in a 2017 article warned North Korea’s satellites pose an EMP threat.
North Korea tells the world its satellites are for peaceful scientific research. But the Sohae satellite launch facility is run by North Korea’s military, subordinate to their strategic rocket forces. Sohae during the 2013 crisis over Pyongyang’s third illegal nuclear test was "mobilized" along with other strategic missile forces.
North Korea acts as if its satellites are their greatest military asset. In 2016, amidst threats to make nuclear strikes and punish the U.S. for economic sanctions, North Korea launched their KSM-4 satellite.
In 2017, Kim Jong-un threatened to reduce the United States to "ashes" with “nuclear thunderbolts” and threatened to retaliate for U.S. economic sanctions and military pressure by "ordering officials and scientists to complete preparations for a satellite launch as soon as possible."
North Korean press asserts readiness for "any form of war" and includes their satellite with "strengthening of the nuclear deterrent and legitimate artificial satellite launch, which are our fair and square self-defensive choice."
Moreover, "The nuclear [weapons] we possess are, precisely, the country’s sovereignty, right to live, and dignity. Our satellite that cleaves through space is the proud sign that unfolds the future of the most powerful state in the world." North Korea makes "constant preparations so that we can fire the nuclear warheads, which have been deployed for actual warfare for the sake of national defense, at any moment!"
In September of 2017, North Korea apparently tested an H-Bomb they described as capable of "super-powerful EMP attack" and published a technical report accurately describing Super-EMP weapons.
Yet on Feb. 27, 2019, in a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Brian Harrell, Department of Homeland Security’s director for infrastructure security, asserted: "The [intelligence community] currently has no specific, credible information indicating there is an imminent threat to critical infrastructure from an EMP attack."
Senate Homeland Security Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to his great credit, said he'll push for mandatory federal regulations protecting the nation’s electrical infrastructures from EMP.
Mr. President, drain the swamp in your intelligence community, help Senator Johnson, and send Kim Jong-un a message by shooting down his satellites!
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.