North Korea launching a nuclear weapon toward the United States isn’t actually the worst-case scenario, some experts warn. Far more devastating to the entire country would be a nuclear electromagnetic pulse bomb, which they say has the potential to kill “90 percent of all Americans” within one year.
During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday, experts told lawmakers that the threat is very serious and efforts must be taken to secure the grid.
The testimony comes after North Korea confirmed last month that an EMP attack is one of the regime’s goals.
“The H-Bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons, is a multi-functional thermonuclear weapon with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack according to strategic goals,” Pyongyang said in a statement.
The effects of a nuclear EMP would be “catastrophic,” testified Frank J. Cilluffo, Director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University.
“Nuclear EMP in particular—generated by detonating a nuclear device at a high altitude—would have catastrophic effects for the electricity, communications, transportation, fuel, and water sectors (including others). EMP is a threat that the United States must address from both a strategic and operational perspective,” he said.
William R. Graham, chairman of the former EMP commission and its former chief of staff, Peter Vincent Pry, discussed how the intelligence community just six months ago greatly underestimated many areas of North Korea’s weapons program—a mistake they should avoid with regard to an EMP.
“After massive intelligence failures grossly underestimating North Korea’s long-range missile capabilities, number of nuclear weapons, warhead miniaturization, and proximity to an H-Bomb, the biggest North Korean threat to the U.S. remains unacknowledged—nuclear EMP attack,” they said.
The EMP Commission, which lost its funding on Sept. 30, warned more than 10 years ago that “our current vulnerability invites attack.”
Unfortunately, the threat has only gotten worse.