Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman . . . Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives
E-Mail Message 140403
North Korea’s Looming EMP Threat.
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
April 3, 2014
North Korea’s recent satellite launches and previous nuclear tests, coupled with its recent claims of a coming test of a “new form” nuclear weapon, give us pause in contemplating a possible North Korean EMP attack on the United States coming from over the South Polar region. The question is, will we take effective initiatives in time to counter this threat?
Most recent news has focused on Malaysia Flight 370 and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea—and apparent threat of additional expansion into its near-abroad to achieve President Vladimir Putin’s vision for a new Russian empire. Important matters, but at least as important is another threat that is rearing its head: North Korea.
North Korea has recently tested its artillery, rockets and ballistic missiles of various ranges (and they appear primed for more), and its official Korean Central News Agency announced it would be testing a “new form of nuclear weapon.” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry would not clarify what was meant by this “new form,” but Washington reportedly (at least by the New York Times) associated it with efforts to make nuclear devices small and sophisticated enough to be delivered by North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). I wish that is all it means, but I have well justified doubts!
Furthermore, this Times article linked to their August 6, 2013 review of the timeline associated with North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear testing programs, which leaves one with the false impression that America can breathe easy because they are far away from achieving that capability—e.g.., that their ballistic missiles can reach only 900 miles. And an important ballistic missile test in 1998—overflying Japan led to great concern about the growing threat at that time. The CIA had already obliged those then lowballing the threat with a 1996 formal national intelligence estimate (NIE) that indicated no threat to the continental United States for well into this century—while notably leaving out Alaska and Hawaii in the estimate.
Bad move, since Senators Inouye and Stevens, of Hawaii and Alaska respectively, took great umbrage from being left out of the United States in this NIE. And as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, they were not to be trifled with. Is it any wonder that Alaska and Hawaii both play a major role in our current ballistic missile defense programs?
In addition and in the wake of the 1998 North Korean test, many members of the House were also upset, and Former Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Curt Weldon (R-PA), became the prime advocate for the National Missile Defense Act of 1999, making it our national policy to build as soon as technologically possible a national missile defense to protect Americans in all 50 states. Still an unfulfilled mandate.
Meanwhile, the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission, also chartered in response to the NIE, concluded that North Korea or Iran would be able launch ballistic missiles to “inflict major destruction on the U.S. within about five years of a decision to acquire such a capability.”
The 2009 estimates of the Independent Working Group (IWG), of which High Frontier is a founding member, suggest a bit different perspective (from the New York Times) as illustrated below. While the Taepo Dong 2 was listed as being “under development” in 2009, the North Koreans placed three satellites in Earth Orbit during the last couple of years, illustrating their capability of building an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could threaten the United States with an attack over the North Pole. There is little reason to doubt they have that capability today. So what about their nuclear weapons capability?
One of these low earth orbit North Korean satellites was reported to weigh 220 pounds, as discussed in our April 8, 2013 email message. When the North Koreans launched satellites, they also demonstrated an inherent ICBM capability. After all, recall that when the Soviets launched their first “Sputnik” satellite in 1957, they used an ICBM as a launch vehicle.
Furthermore, with those satellite launches, North Korea also demonstrated a FOBS capability—the first Fractional Orbital Bombardment System was developed by the Soviets in the 1960s to attack the United States from over the South Pole, in contrast to their ICBMs that were designed to be launched over the North Pole. A comparison of the two trajectories, calculated by David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, was provided and repeated below.
But if North Korea can build a viable nuclear warhead weighing 220 pounds or less, then they already have the proven means for delivering it to detonate at the optimum altitude over Omaha to produce an EMP that covers the entire continental U.S. And this is the context for considering their latest claim of testing a “new form of nuclear weapon.”
What if they have already tested such a weapon and know the entire “FOBS” clone would work—as suggested by these satellite launches over the past couple of years?
North Korea has conducted three underground nuclear tests, including the most recent test in February 2013. Some reports have characterized these tests as “failures” because of their low explosive yield. However, North Korea may be testing light-weight, low-yield advanced nuclear weapon designs obtained from Russia or China.
These specialized devices may be designed to produce a low explosive yield, but a significantly higher output of gamma rays. In operational use, the gamma rays produced by such weapon designs would interact with the earth’s magnetic field to produce enhanced EMP effects.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry has considered these issues in considerable detail in Pages 260-263 of his exhaustive study, APOCALYPSE UNKNOWN: The Struggle to Protect America from An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe, which is available on Amazon.com. He has summarized his assessment of this situation on a number of occasions, and among other things pointed out that:
“The Congressional EMP Commission warned in 2008 that North Korea was developing Super-EMP warheads. South Korean military intelligence has reportedly warned their government repeatedly that North Korea is developing Super-EMP warheads with Russian help. In 2011, a military commentator with the People’s Republic of China stated that North Korea has Super-EMP warheads. Data from North Korea’s nuclear tests are consistent with a Super-EMP warhead.”
So, what do you think about North Korea’s current capability to launch a nuclear weapon toward us over either North or South Pole?
Want to bet your country on that assumption . . . or would you rather defend against it?
In my next email message, I’ll elaborate more on the specifics what we can do to counter these threats as quickly as is possible. But you can bet my recommendations will be consistent with those I’ve previously provided.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We will do all we can to encourage the powers that be to “make the Navy’s Aegis BMD system all it can be.”
We will continue our efforts to inform state and local authorities about the EMP threat and expand our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the grid and counter the EMP threat. This work should go hand in hand with the efforts to gain support from State legislators to expand on the excellent work in Maine and Virginia, which have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the EMP threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without a negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We will continue working with South Carolina folks to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to this serious threat. We will expand this effort to neighboring and other states.
We are informing SC state legislators and senators about the threat and what can be done to deal with it—and hopefully they will follow Maine and Virginia in seeking to harden the electric power grid. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into the National Capital region. We will be traveling to New York next week, spreading the word and seeking support.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!
And support us with your tax deductible gifts to help enable our continuing efforts.