Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 130408
- North Korea and Iran have already launched relatively light-weight satellites
- When they get nuclear weapons that can be packaged to fit those weight constraints, they can detonate their nuke while in orbit over the USA, creating an electromagnetic pulse (EMP)
- From an altitude of 300 miles, such a detonation “over Omaha” would blanket the entire continental United States with EMP effects, the consequences of which could, within a year, lead to the death of hundreds of millions of Americans and end our way of life.
North Korea, Iran and everyone else understands these points—or certainly should if they have been awake. But have they connected the dots?
A Possible Explanation for North Korean Claims.
Consider a few not so random thoughts. David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, in his December 15, 2012 article, provided the above figure and noted that North Korea lauched what they claimed to be a 220 pound satellite a year ago. Wright reviews several pertinent press accounts indicating that the satellite may have failed and was “tumbling” in a near circular orbit at an altitude of between about 300 and 350 miles altitude. Then in his December 7, 2012 (Note: Pearl Harbor anniversary.) article, Wright speculated on the follow-on North Korean mission and provided several interesting graphics of the intended launch parameters, perhaps the most notable of which follows. It indicates how the staging was to be accomplished to avoid debris falling on populated areas.
In the same article, Wright shows how this satellite orbit differs with a ballistic missile trajectory (Seethe Figure at the left.), and seems to conclude that North Korea is not so much developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability; rather that they are focused on launching satellites . . . and having a rough go of it.
In his 19 December 2012 Wired Magazine article following the lauch discussed by Wright, “The Truth about the North Korean Space Launch,” Brian Weeden provides links to a number of interesting articles related to North Korean launches that discuss orbital parameters, the most notable from our perspective is that their satellites are launched southward from North Korea to avoid unwanted debris over populated areas as discussed by Wright. This means North Korea’s satellites will traverse the United States moving from the south-to-north.
But what if North Korea were seeking to attack the United States with one or more of their nuclear weapons? How do the above factoids fit with the claims of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and his spokesmen that they are prepared to attack the United States with a “miniaturized, light-weight and diversified” nuclear weapon,” a claim discounted by many observers who think North Korea can attack only South Korea and Japan? But if they 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.
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. Recently, he summarized his very different assessment of the situation as perhaps another intelligence failure to appreciate the warning we have received—in the tradition of Pearl Harbor and other intelligence community failures. His April 5 Family Security Matters article, “A North Korean Nuclear Pearl Harbor,” summarizes the situation as follows:
Implications for our Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Systems.
So, how would we defend against such an attack from the south? Our ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, in principle, could shoot down satellites as well as higher flying ICBMs, as in the above figure, depending on location and timing. There’s only one problem. If the satellites come from the southern hemisphere, then they may not get sufficient warning and tracking information to support an intercept attempt before North Korea detonates its nuclear device over Omaha. Our current defense is focused on an attack from the north . . . but if the attack came from the south via satellite as indicated above, it might not be capable ot intercepting the satellite before North Korea detonates its device.
A pathological case? Perhaps. But on the other hand, this is not a novel idea. The Soviets in the 1960s planned just such an attack using what was referred to a “Fractional Orbit Bombardment System,” or FOBS—as recently discussed by Air Power Australia. In that case, FOBS utility was overcome by improved warning systems. And there were arms control limits, such as the Outer Space Treaty that banned the stationing of nuclear weapons in space. But since North Korea already ignored other diplomatic limits in developing nucelar weapons, why would anyone believe they would pay any attention to such constraints?
What can be done quickly to defend against such a North Korean attack from the south? Perhaps the quickest response can be provided by the Aegis BMD system which is already at sea in increased numbers in the Pacific because of the North Korean crisis. To quote good home security advice, “We need to lock the back door as well as the front door.”
We need to stay alert and build effective global defenses as quickly as possible—North Korea is not the only state that wishes us ill. For example, Iran is reported to be closely collaborating with North Korea on its technology and testing programs.
Also, we need the powers that be to take protective measures to protect the electric power grid—the loss of which could return the U.S. to the ways of the 19th century without the agrarian society that could support its current population. As the Chairman of the EMP Commission testified in 2008, a couple of hundred million Americans could die from starvation, illness and the associated chaos that would follow after the loss of food, medicine, communications, transportation, etc. created by such a nuclear attack—or from a massive solar eruption that will happen, the only question is when?
And what should you do?
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public to the existential threats posed by both manmade and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.
We can use your help in spreading the word to grass roots and local authorities to press the powers that be to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?
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!