A "Super-Powerful" EMP Attack: North Korea's Newest Weapon Against The U.S.

Tyler Durden's picture

The dynamics of the standoff between the US and North Korea have shifted dramatically in the past week.

First, the North started with an unexpectedly sharp provocation - launching a missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido - before following that up with its sixth nuclear test. Also, judging by the size the earthquake detected in the country’s mountainous North on Sunday morning, North Korea may have been telling the truth when it said it conducted what it described as its first hydrogen bomb test.

And while the North bragged about the weapon’s “great destructive power” in a TV broadcast, what caught analysts’ attention was a mention of a different tactic: detonating  an H-bomb at high altitude to create an electromagnetic pulse that could knock out parts of the US electrical grid.

Here’s WSJ:

“North Korea’s threats against the U.S. now include a tactic long discussed by some experts: an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, triggered by a nuclear weapon that would aim to shut down the U.S. electricity grid.


North Korea’s state news agency made a rare reference to the tactic in a Sunday morning release in which the country said it was able to load a hydrogen bomb onto a long-range missile. The bomb, North Korea said, ‘is a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack.’”

Unlike a conventional nuke, an EMP blast - think Oceans' 11 - is not directly lethal, and serves mostly to knock out key infrastructure (useful when robbing a casino).

However, it would probably lead to an unknown number of indirect deaths as hospitals and essential infrastructure lose power.

“The idea of an EMP attack is to detonate a nuclear weapon tens or hundreds of miles above the earth with the aim of knocking out power in much of the U.S. Unlike the U.S. atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, such a weapon wouldn’t directly destroy buildings or kill people. Instead, electromagnetic waves from the nuclear explosion would generate pulses to overwhelm the electric grid and electronic devices in the same way a lightning surge can destroy equipment.”

In the worst possible scenario, regional power grids could be offline for months, potentially costing many deaths as people would eventually start running out of necessities like food and medicine. Lawmakers and the US military have been aware of the EMP threat for many years, according to WSJ. IN a 2008 report commissioned by Congress, the authors warned that an EMP attack would lead to “widespread and long-lasting disruption and damage to the critical infrastructures that underpin the fabric of US society.”

In a report published last month, the Hill noted that the North could choose to carry out an EMP attack on Japan or South Korea as a more politically acceptable act of aggression. Such an attack could help the North accomplish its three most-important political goals, the Hill said.

“North Korea has nuclear-armed missiles and satellites potentially capable of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. EMP is considered by many the most politically acceptable use of a nuclear weapon, because the high-altitude detonation (above 30 kilometers) produces no blast, thermal, or radioactive fallout effects harmful to people.


EMP itself is harmless to people, destroying only electronics. But by destroying electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, the indirect effects of EMP can kill far more people in the long-run than nuclear blasting a city. In this scenario, North Korea makes an EMP attack on Japan and South Korea to achieve its three most important foreign policy goals: reunification with South Korea, revenge upon Japan for World War II, and recognition of North Korea as a world power.”

Scientists first discovered a hydrogen bomb’s ancillary EMP capabilities after testing one in the Pacific in the early 1960s.

“When the U.S. tested a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific in 1962, it resulted in lights burning out in Honolulu, nearly 1,000 miles from the test site. Naturally occurring electromagnetic events on the sun can also disrupt power systems.


A 1989 blackout in Quebec that came days after powerful explosions on the sun expelled a cloud of charged particles that struck earth’s magnetic field.”

Some experts who spoke with WSJ said it would be impossible to guarantee success during an EMP attack, since the weapon would need to detonate with near perfect accuracy.

“Skeptics generally acknowledge that an EMP attack would be possible in theory, but they say the danger is exaggerated because it would be difficult for an enemy such as North Korea to calibrate the attack to deliver maximum damage to the U.S. electrical grid. If it a North Korean bomb exploded away from its target location, it might knock out only a few devices or parts of the grid.”

The North Korea said its hydrogen bomb had explosive power of tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons – so of course if it landed to close, or the attack was mishandled in other ways, what was meant to be an EMP attack would result in a nuclear strike. At least one expert said using an EMP attack would make little sense when the North could cause much more destruction with a nuclear ground attack.

“Others say that even if North Korea had the technical capability to deliver a damaging electromagnetic pulse, it wouldn’t make strategic sense to use it because Pyongyang could wreak more destruction with a traditional nuclear attack directed at a large city.


A rogue state would prefer a “spectacular and direct ground burst in preference to a unreliable and uncertain EMP strike. A weapon of mass destruction is preferable to a weapon of mass disruption,” wrote physicist Yousaf M. Butt in a 2010 analysis.”

Luckily, if US military authorities truly fear an attack, there are some long-term steps the US could take to minimize the effectiveness of an electromagnetic pulse attack. Defenses could be bolstered inexpensively by designing electrical-grid components to withstand sudden pulses, just as the grid already is protected against lightning strikes. The US could also build backup systems that could step in for the principal electrical grids in an emergency.

If the North’s latest nuclear test, conducted early Sunday, didn’t involve a hydrogen bomb, the weapon used was at least close to it according to US officials. It was the North’s first nuclear test since late last year, and also the first since tensions between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump began escalating shortly after his inauguration. China, Japan, South Korea and the US have already condemned the attack, with China and South Korea threatening to work with the Security Council to bring more onerous sanctions against the defiant North.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump in a series of tweets hinted that he was frustrated with diplomatic measures, which he referred to as “appeasement.” We imagine there are more than a few generals whispering in his ear about the potential success rate of a surgical strike.

* * *

Finally, here is a repost from July 2014, in which hedge fund legend Paul Singer, head of Elliott Management, said that "there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence" - an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).  Three years he may be proven correct.

From: "The "Most Significant Danger" According To Elliott's Paul Singer"



While these pages are typically overflowing with scary or depressing scenarios, there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence. Even nuclear war is a relatively localized issue, except in its most extreme form. And the threat from asteroids can (possibly) be mitigated.


The risks associated with electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, represent another story entirely. It can occur naturally, from solar storms that send “coronal mass ejections,” which are massive energetic bursts of solar wind, tens of millions of miles in a mere few hours. Or it can be artificial, produced by a high-altitude (at least 15 miles) explosion of relatively low-yield (even Hiroshima-strength) nuclear weapons.


Different initiators of EMP have different pulses and different effects. But the bottom line is that EMP fries electronic devices, including parts of electric grids. In 1859, a particularly strong solar disturbance (the “Carrington Event”) caused disruption to the nascent telegraph network. It happened again with similar disruptions in 1921, before our modern power grid came into existence. A NASA study concluded these events have typically occurred around once per century. A repeat of the Carrington Event today would cause a massive disruption to the electric grid, possibly shutting it down entirely for months or longer, with unimaginable consequences.


Only two years ago, the sun let loose with a Carrington-magnitude burst, but the position of the earth at the time prevented the burst from hitting it. The chances of additional events of such magnitude may be far greater than most people think.


The artificial version of EMP, a kind of nuclear attack, would require between one and three high-altitude nuclear explosions to create its effect across all of North America. It would not cause any blast or radiation damage, but such an attack would have consequences even more catastrophic than a severe solar storm. It could not only bring down the grid, but also lay down a very intense, very fast pulse across the continent, damaging or destroying electronic switches, devices, computers and transformers across America.


There is no way to stop a naturally occurring EMP, and nuclear proliferation, combined with advances in weapons delivery systems, make the artificial version a distinct possibility, so the dangers are very real.


What can be done about this risk? Critical elements of the power grid and essential electronic devices can be hardened. Spare parts can be stockpiled for other, less critical hardware. Procedures can be developed as part of emergency preparedness so that the relevant government agencies and emergency response NGOs are ready to respond quickly and effectively to an episode large or small.


Why are we writing about EMP? Because in any analysis of societal risk, EMP stands all by itself. Congressional committees are studying this problem, and federal legislation is laboriously working its way through the process. We think that raising people’s consciousness about what should be an effort by both parties to make the country (and the world) safer from this kind of event is a good thing to do.

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Looney's picture


It’s time to quietly replace the “Fire and Fury” threats with a more diplomatic “Farts and Feces”.   ;-)


The Cooler King's picture

Cover your nads (like a soccer free kick defender)

johngaltfla's picture

Time to short California. Without power there, that's a U.S. state that would be in non-stop Mad Max mode 24/7. It would make The Walking Dead look like a church picnic.

Haus-Targaryen's picture

If we're luckly.  No group of people deserved it more. 

BaBaBouy's picture

I would guesstimate the US is gonna act ...

They pretty much have all the Threats justification they could have hoped for.
Certainly 50 X the perceived threat of Saddams Iraq, and we all know what happened there.

Unfortunately SK is screwed...

SWRichmond's picture
A "Super-Powerful" EMP Attack: North Korea's Newest Weapon Against The U.S.

NYC please. thanks.

land_of_the_few's picture

The effects might spread though. Like Starbucks, and rabies.

NoDecaf's picture

MAHA - Make America Humble Again

BaBaBouy's picture

Russia must be fucking Pissed Off At Mad KIM Boy also...

""Vladivostok, a rapidly developing city considered a key to President Vladimir Putin's Asia strategy, is located only about 250km from the North Korean nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.

"If a nuclear disaster in North Korea generates massive amounts of radioactive fallout, Vladivostok would be contaminated in just half a day or so," a Japanese official said.""

Ahmeexnal's picture

Did Little Kimboy just SCHLONG "The Donald"???

MagicHandPuppet's picture

Seems like a good time to extend plans for the Mexican wall to boarder off Comiefornia as well - saving the rest of us from the forthcoming migrating herds of post-EMP comie-zombies.

BigJim's picture

These are purely defensive weapons on the part of Kim&co - they don't want to be Saddamed or Ghaddafied.

stacking12321's picture

with this powerfu newl EMP weapon, this is surely the end of bitcoin!

silvergeddon and loony whats his face, even said so


The_Juggernaut's picture

So let me see if I have the story straight.  An EMP doesn't generate fallout.  In fact, it doesn't cause any pollution whatsoever.  I knocks out the electric grid and renders all electronic devices useless in the affected area.  Just like magic.


I'm expected to believe this while simultaneously believing that it's something the US hasn't done to anybody before.  lmfao!  You'd have to be a  retard to believe that.  Shoot yourself in the head if you're dumb enough to fall for that one.

MillionDollarButter's picture

It is still the use of nuclear weapons.  Even Bush couldn't have avoided the Hague.

Manthong's picture


So,   what does the Young-Un have in common with Muammar Gadhafi  ??????

Likely Goldman Sachs.

Manthong's picture


Few people in the world know that Russia shares a short  border with North Korea.


Slack Jack's picture

Veritas X posted a link to the following interesting article:

F. William Engdahl says North Korea is an Pentagon Vassal State and Kim Jong Un is their man.


Kim Jong Un et al, threatens "A Super-Powerful EMP Attack....." BUT

An EMP attack is a total nothing.

What would you rather have above your city; an EMP attack or the average ole thermonuclear weapon going off.

So (if) Kim Jong Un is going to attack the US in the most ineffectual way?

Kim Jong Un is sure beginning to sound like false opposition. Maybe Engdahl is right.

Manthong's picture

if low IQ was a contest in Switzerland or North Korea,,,,

Who would take the prize?


hint,,, Dennis Rodman could not qual in either of those places.


Manthong's picture



If I could light up an itty bitty 10 kton  neutron  over 900 W Madison in Chicago…

A lot of problems would be solved.


jeff montanye's picture

i'd rather neither and if the u.s. government was anything but evil doers it would negotiate the withdrawal of u.s. troops from south korea and the end of joint military exercises in return for a freeze on nork weapons development and testing with a chinese protectorate on the norks.  adding a fast track of national reunification with freer trade and communications on the front burner wouldn't be a bad idea either.

but those that run the u.s. government as a wholly owned subsidiary regard peace with loathing and scorn.

Manthong's picture


I dug a new basement 15’ down with 36” reinforced concrete walls ( I can prove this).

I am pretty much good to go for the land blast.

I could go deeper but I would have to pit a few more 24/7 pumps in to compensate for the water table.


Manthong's picture


It would not surprise me in the least to learn that the yung-un was just another CIA tool.

His big problem now is would he enjoy a bayonet up the butt like Hillary did to Gadhafi.  

Manthong's picture

OK, you idiot moron cretin low chromosone clueless  down voter…..

How many km border does Russia share with the pot belly young -un ???????


jeff montanye's picture

The border between Russia and North Korea, according to the official Russian definition, consists of 17 kilometres (11 mi) of "terrestrial border" and 22.1 km (12 nautical miles) of "maritime border". It is the shortest of the international borders of Russia.[1]

Manthong's picture



Would it not be cool if the Russians amassed a zillion  T-14's  or two on the NK border ?


SoDamnMad's picture

The UN World Food program is due to make it's last shipment to N Korea in November. Someone tell me why all shipments should not stop right now.  Are you going to tell me it's for the children of NK?  If so, who is inspecting this to insure it doesn't go right to the military. Look at who is and isn't contributing (mostly food going to Africa).



Manthong's picture


So sad...

There are a lot of smart people on this site...

and a few ignorant ones.

XWeatherman's picture

There are a few cry-babies who pitch a tantrum when they get a down vote.

Retarded Idiot's picture

An EMP is environment friendly, so nothing to worry about.

rockstone's picture

It will create a lot of mulch.

JustUsChickensHere's picture

Of course, the 100 or so USA based nuclear power plants that would emulate Fukishuma after an EMP? .... not so environmentally friendly.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild's picture

The only intelligent comment. Fuck the down votes. This is all a lie.

Talk of EMPs in congressional hearings going back 15 years always seemed like a set-up like when Oliver North commented on the imminent evil of an up to that point completely unknown Osama Bon Laden, previously known to CIA as asset Tommy Osmun. Some Canaanite scumbag will simply flip the biggest USA electrical grid disconnect, tank the NY stock exchange, and launch the world into Albert Pike's third and final world war.

The images of N Korea launching nukes will be on the caliber of NASA productions. The goy will be moved to take action. Gullible dumb fucks never learn to stop feeding their children to these insatiable monsters.

Mentaliusanything's picture

Never going to happen.    (.) it would unleash the dogs of war of the likes the World has never seen. America and Sth Korea have done the sums and came up with answer .. DIM SUM

What are you going to do? Turn the peninsuala into sand. No that fat fucker will sleep the long sleep before this bullshit occures. Relax their on to it. (you can bet that way OK)

New_Meat's picture

yep, it is a kinder, gentler nuclear weapon.

MoonSun's picture

Not really a problem. Keep your bitcoins on a paper wallet.

BeanusCountus's picture

Why don't we just do it to them first? With a H bomb as well? Best defense is a good offense. Guy keeps pushin it. Give him what he's asking for.

China wouldn't stand for this. Russia wouldn't stand for this. Why the hell is the US?

SHoffer's picture

Time for the big boys to intervene:

Russia, China and USA jointly target NK for identical and simultaneous small airburst at shared coordinates over Un using cruise missiles or equivalent. Then announce monitoring equipment reports huge detonation that looks like a large industrial accident at NK test range. Oh Shame. Next regime change. Then same Countries share in relief efforts to assist peoples with food and medicines etc. to give aid from evil former dictator. The fighting will start from within soon enough to keep things occupied there not to mention China and SK.

monk27's picture

Pretty ugly turn of events, at least according to the this novel: One second After.


man from glad's picture

Good read but I think even that scenario as bad as it was, is a bit romantic and optimistic.

Not Too Important's picture

More like 'The Road', then 'On The Beach'. McCarthy is a prophet.

Fukushima alone has given North American about 8-9 years before we're all radsick or dead. Anything else is only going to accelerate that timetable.

Fukushima - and all the others - hasn't stopped pumping radioactive death into the jetstream and Pacific Ocean, bringing its' lethal radiation in the rain cycle, and will continue for a billion years. Everything we eat and drink is radioactive, and getting worse.

Imagine a newborn, who will spend their entire life eating and drinking continuously increasing radioactive food and water, food sloshed full of RoundUp, and getting shitty vaccines almost monthly, starting in the delivery room. Times that by every child born in North America.

The parents are all going to watch their children die a horrible death. And there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it.

This is probably going to blow skyhigh under Trump, and he knew it going in. May God have mercy on him, and all the rest of us.

BigJim's picture

You have absolutely NO idea what you're talking about, have you?

Not Too Important's picture

My expertise notwithstanding, examine US cancer projection rates, especially pediatric cancer rates. They are accelerating at a significantly increasing rate, and in less than 8 years will be going vertical across the board. We're 7 and a half years in, and the magic number is 15, per numerous studies. I recommend starting with the Hanford beagle study. That should suffice.

If you would like to debate the National Cancer Institute and CDC, be my guest.

peopledontwanttruth's picture

The timetable for Fukushima is debatable but I think you're spot on with some other things.
The truth hurts.

Not Too Important's picture

The timetable is already well underway. See above.

So little anymore is of any real importance, considering the bigger picture. We in North America have about 5-6 years before it gets completely out of hand, while the rest of the world watches and calculates their own nuclear fates. Trump is right to focus on America surviving as long as possible, cutting our global costs so we can have some semblance of national hospice care. No one else will help us, those bridges were burned decades ago.


As the US dies, who is going to keep the existing nuclear plants safe in 20 years? No one, and then the rest of the world will know the hell of all the US NPP's burning to atmosphere.

It's just nuclear demographic math at this point.

cynicalskeptic's picture

Huxley's Brave New World was written in 1931 - Orwell's 1984 in 1948.

IF we survive as a species we're headed for a combination of them both - and I expect only a select few will be surviving - in underground shelters for at least a couple decades.  After that -?????  The 'survifvors' may be in for a rude resurfacing.

Regular reproduction seems to be on the way out for humans - falling sperm counts et al.  I expect we'll have a Huxlian artificial birthing program but without the lowest level proles.  No need for them with automation and robots.

You've got total surveillance - more so than Orwell could have envisioned - and with digital media Big Brother can have absolute control ove all media - past present and future.  Want to bet that those born underground won't ever know Huxley or Orwell ever lived? 

I'm firmly convinced that SOMETHING is coming that's going to be a world of hurt for most of the planet.    TPTB were already looting at a furious rate - making NO plans to fix any of the fundamental problems we're facing.  It's been kicking the can down the road - why worry when you'll never have to deal with the consequences?   Great pains were taken to make sure the masses could be controlled - Patriot Act et al 'The War on Terror' is a war on pretty much everyone on the planet.   Meanwhile the rich are building underground luxury shellters and 'continuity of government'  will be insured by filling a couple hundred shelters with 'the chosen.'   Too bad not many will be left to govern   - but that seems to be the plan.   Why has China built all those empty cities way inlans near Mongolia?  Why does  Russia have Civil Defense shelters that hold 5 million around Moscow?   Why?   What is coming?   What are the plans for us?


There are HUGE problems that we've been ignoring for decades.   The basic problem is that there are simply too many people - polluting the planet, demanding food and places to live.....   we could deal with them all IF those at the top were willing to lower their living standards but.....  that wasn't going to happen.  TPTB - those deciding the fate of humanity - clearly believe that people are the problem. 

I expect that great plans were underway to exterminate 90% of humanity by the year 2100 - We've had a few famines, some unexplained pandemics, and low level war run rampant but those aren't killing enough people.  They've been trying to get WWIII going with Iran for 20 years but somehow failed.   Now Korea is the big bad wolf.  But really - does anyone think nuclear war is a good idea?     

But something else is going on now....

An asteroid, comet, pole shift, SOMETHING that'll exterminate most of us for them is not too far off.......   They've been preparing for SOMETHING with underground shelters stocked up with supplies.

I suspect they'll pull some massive false flag as an excuse to lock things down and give themselves time to get into the shelters - maybe it will be an EMP false flagged to blame North Korea.  

There will be a Brave New World utopia underground for the select survivors while the rest of us perish on the surface.  


Not Too Important's picture

The 'chosen' people going underground will be dying of radsickness - Radiogenic Neutropenia, to be exact - at the same rates as the 'not chosen', unless the surface people are wiped out by something else. They will be taking their radsickness down with them. Maybe they will die wrapped in sheets with a better thread count, but they will die, too.

jeff montanye's picture

upvote for mention of thread count.

however if, for some reason, radiation doesn't kill off the species, the population will peak about 2045 and begin falling with no clear reason to reverse.  free(r) decisions by free(r) women.  we (and the rest of the planet) could use a century or two of that.