Next Generation Risks, Part 1: "Super EMP" Attack

Authored by John Rubino via,

The global financial system’s ever-increasing leverage pretty much guarantees another crisis in coming years - unless it’s pre-empted by new weapons that can, in theory, shut down entire national banking systems, thus screwing up the best-laid plans of today’s savers and investors.

This series will consider some of them, beginning with the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. From The Wall Street Journal:

North Korea Dreams of Turning Out the Lights

Pyongyang doesn’t need a perfect missile. Detonating a nuke above Seoul—or L.A.—would sow chaos.



In 2001 Congress established a commission to study the danger of an electromagnetic pulse generated by the detonation of a high-altitude nuclear weapon. It concluded that while there would be no blast effects on the ground, critical electricity-dependent infrastructure could be rendered inoperable. The commission’s chairman, William R. Graham, has noted that several Russian generals told the commissioners in 2004 that the designs for a “super EMP nuclear weapon” had been transferred to North Korea.


Pyongyang, the Russian generals reported, was probably only a few years away from developing super EMP capability. According to Peter Vincent Pry, staff director of the congressional EMP commission, a recent North Korean medium-range missile test that was widely reported to have exploded midflight could in fact have been deliberately detonated at an altitude of 40 miles.


Was it a dry run for an EMP attack? Detonation at that altitude of a nuclear warhead with a yield of 10 to 20 kilotons—similar to those tested by North Korea—would produce major EMP effects and inflict catastrophic damage to unhardened electronics across hundreds of miles of surface territory. It is a myth that large yield nuclear weapons of hundreds of kilotons are required to produce such effects.


Although some analysts have dismissed the possibility of a successful North Korean EMP attack—either on South Korea or the United States—several factors could make it a more appealing first-strike strategy for Kim Jong Un’s nuclear scientists than a direct, missile-delivered nuclear strike. For one thing, accuracy is not a concern; the North Koreans simply need to get near their target to sow chaos. Nor would they need to worry about developing a reliable re-entry vehicle for their ballistic missiles.


Conventional wisdom aside, a North Korean EMP attack on the U.S. may also not be far-fetched. “North Korea could make an EMP attack against the United States by launching a short-range missile off a freighter or submarine or by lofting a warhead to 30 kilometers burst height by balloon,” wrote Mr. Graham earlier this month on the security blog 38 North. “Even a balloon-lofted warhead detonated at 30 kilometers altitude could blackout the Eastern Grid that supports most of the population and generates 75 percent of US electricity. Moreover, an EMP attack could be made by a North Korean satellite.” Two North Korean satellites currently orbit the earth on trajectories that take them over the U.S.


This is not mere theory. In 1962 the United States detonated a 1.4-megaton nuclear warhead over the South Pacific, 900 miles southwest of Hawaii. Designated “Starfish Prime,” the blast destroyed hundreds of street lights in Honolulu, caused electrical surges on airplanes in the area, and damaged at least six satellites. Only Hawaii’s undeveloped electric power-transmission infrastructure prevented a prolonged blackout. It was the era of vacuum-tube electronics. We are living in the digital age.

Some conclusions

Lots of actors in addition to North Korea have this capability. And we can’t stop it. Preventing a nuke-laden plane or balloon from detonating miles above a populated area is hard to the point of impossibility.

Banking and brokerage networks would be shut down – possibly for a long while – by such an attack, which means no access to ATM machines or credit card readers. People without ready cash would be stuck without access to life’s necessities. Meanwhile cars, which have in recent years become rolling computer networks, won’t run, making it hard to get to distant supplies.

The fiat currency of a system shut down in this way might or might not hold its value. This is uncharted financial territory so it’s not certain that cash under the mattress will be of use. And forget about cryptocurrencies in this scenario. Virtual money evaporates when the network on which it circulates goes down.

The solution?

Start upgrading to hardened electronics as part of a basic prepping program. That’s beyond the technical scope of this article, but Google it and you’ll find plenty of resources. And hold precious metals in small enough denominations to use as currency. One of history’s lessons is that gold and silver remain valuable whatever else is going on. If we’re destined to spend a few months back in the Middle Ages, spendable money will make the experience a lot more manageable.


Lordflin hedgeless_horseman Sat, 06/10/2017 - 22:41 Permalink

Hope you have enough for those hordes of scavengers who will come sweeping across your property line...

I own a farm... even have surveillance cameras... I am well stocked with firearms and ammo, and I know how to use them. I am no coward, and I am capable of putting up a hell of a fight if history is any indication. So maybe I will nail some of the bastards before they get me.

The world is headed for a dark age of unprecedented nature. Or in the words of the Creator, if you believe in such things... if he doesn't intervene in the last days none will be left alive...

On the other hand, I like living on a farm. There is something primal and satisfying about seeing sheep grazing on the pasture. I have two ponds. The one in back is stocked with bass and blue gill, and the larger bass must weigh several pounds by now. I raise and breed Anatolian Shepherds, as we have wolves and mountain lions here, and those intending harm will find a pack of vicious wolf like creatures whose weight ranges from 120 to 160 pounds depending on gender. I have two orchards that produce a variety of fruits and nuts. My bees died out, but I will correct my mistakes and restart my hives in the spring of next year. My ducks on the front pond lay eggs... Add this to the raised vegetable gardens and we are well supplied with necessities...

But I am under no illusions that I am making it through this thing alive. Not really certain I care much anymore. This whole world is upside down and I can no longer make rational sense of it.

But folks, if this thing comes unglued we are going to need to invent a new word for ugly... somehow, at age sixty-five, the thought of fighting off endless waves of lust filled Antifa zombies just doesn't have the romantic appeal it might have when I was twenty...

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

NoPension Lordflin Sun, 06/11/2017 - 08:28 Permalink

Exactly why I tell the wife....I can't get it through her thick not discard preps that look unpalatable. They are the " give always ".

I'm giving this to I don't have to kill you. You are welcome.

She thinks it's a fantasy. I do hope in twenty years my son has to toss it in a dumpster.
It's a small price to pay...and it gives me comfort. ( the stock on my shelves)

In reply to by Lordflin

Ikiru Lordflin Sun, 06/11/2017 - 13:18 Permalink

When the financial readjustment finally comes, it will be quite nasty, but I think those who make it through will be better off in the end. The large majority of libs don't own guns, whereas libertarians and conservatives are armed to teeth. I also think large portions of the military will split off and join the good guys. Blood will be spilled on both sides, but the Marxists will be defeated!

In reply to by Lordflin

HRH Feant2 hedgeless_horseman Sat, 06/10/2017 - 22:05 Permalink

I make everything from scratch. Best new recipe?

Baked garbanzo beans. I laughed but no joke. 40 to 50 minutes at 400 degrees and this is the new healthy snack that you can pig out on and not feel guilty.

One can garbanzo beans, rinse.

Pat dry with paper towels.

Stir with olive oil.

Place on non-stick pan / baking sheet @ 400 degrees for 40 to 50 mintues.

Make sure you watch them the last 20 mintues.

When crisp season with salt and seasonings of your choice. My favs are cayenne, salt, Tumeric, and garlic powder. Add spices once beans are crisp and out of the oven. Enjoy!

I can't wait to stock up on several dozen cans. My new favorite snack!

Bon appetite!

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

HRH Feant2 . . . _ _ _ . . . Sat, 06/10/2017 - 22:58 Permalink

Thank you for the apology. I don't mind being teased. That is fun.

My grandmother was an amazing cook. She taught me everything. Well her and Julia Child and the Joy of Cooking.

I have to say when I made and froze my last batch of homemade potstickers I was jumping up and down. They look just like the ones you buy at a restaurant. Down to the little pleats on top. So pretty!

And the Asian sauce? Finally figured that out too. Trick? Dilute soy sauce with mirin, add rice wine vinegar and add a few drops of sesame oil. Divine! Yes, of course I use the low-sodium organic soy sauce!

In reply to by . . . _ _ _ . . .

HRH Feant2 . . . _ _ _ . . . Sat, 06/10/2017 - 23:31 Permalink

Oh yes I love potstickers! So easy to make! I think it took me to the third or fourth batch, and I had to watch the video again on how to do the folds, to get them to look just like the ones from a nearby restaurant. It all came down to quality control: the ingredients, arount of salt, the quality of the meat, the produce. I made two batches: one from chicken tenders and another with hot Italian sausage. Mixed in organic celery, onion, cabbage, egg.

I bought some potstickers that were frozen and made them and they were awful. Went back to make them from scratch again. The key is to keep the stack of wrappers stacked. To have some water / cornstarch mix on hand and make them one at a time.

I screwed up by putting out the dough on sheets and trying to fill them and then wrap. Major failure because the dough dried out and wouldn't stick! Epic fail!

Marfa scares me. It is so far away, from everything. HH makes it sound fun, but I don't know. I should have kept that hotel reservation. It looks like the only place left to stay is in a tent or at the swanky places.

In reply to by . . . _ _ _ . . .

Youri Carma hedgeless_horseman Sat, 06/10/2017 - 22:19 Permalink

During a breach or AMP attack I would strongly recommend the 'French Onion Soup' :)Interesting; French onion soup is a type of soup usually based on meat stock and onions, and often served gratinéed with croutons and cheese on top or a large piece of bread.French onion soup…    50g butter    1 tbsp olive oil    1kg onion, Onion, halved and thinly sliced    1 tsp sugar    4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced    2 tbsp plain flour    250ml dry white wine    1.3l hot strongly-flavoured beef stock    4-8 slices French bread (depending on size)    140g Gruyère, finely grated

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman