By Daisy Luther
At a House hearing yesterday, experts warned members of Congress that a North Korean EMP attack could kill 90% of Americans within one year, calling it an “existential threat.” But despite this looming crisis, the Department of Defense has decided now was the time to defund the Congressional committee that has been studying the threat since 2001.
The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack has been around for nearly two decades, but their efforts have mostly been restricted to making sure that the U.S. national command authority and U.S. strategic forces could continue to function. Meanwhile “no major efforts were then thought necessary to protect critical national infrastructures.” Apparently, the plan was that our defense would be so effective, no further steps were needed.
This has all changed with recent strides in nuclear weaponry by North Korea. The results of an EMP strike could be apocalyptic.
With the development of small nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles by new, radical U.S. adversaries, beginning with North Korea, the threat of a nuclear EMP attack against the U.S. becomes one of the few ways that such a country could inflict devastating damage to the United States. It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue, and give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP. (source)
What a lot of people didn’t know was that just a couple of weeks ago, Sept. 30, 2017, the Department of Defense terminated the funding for the EMP Commission. At the same time, “North Korea detonated an H-Bomb that it plausibly describes as capable of “super-powerful EMP” attack and released a technical report “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing what Russia and China call a “Super-EMP” weapon.” The EMP Commission has been urging EMP preparedness on a national level for 17 years, but no one has been listening, despite alarming strides toward that goal in just the past six months.
Recent events have proven the EMP Commission’s critics wrong about other highly important aspects of the nuclear missile threat from North Korea:
- Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was primitive, some academics claiming it had as few as 6 A-Bombs. Now the intelligence community reportedly estimates North Korea has 60 nuclear weapons.
- Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s ICBMs were fake, or if real could not strike the U.S. mainland. Now the intelligence community reportedly estimates North Korea’s ICBMs can strike Denver and Chicago, and perhaps the entire United States.
- Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea was many years away from an HBomb. Now it appears North Korea has H-Bombs comparable to sophisticated U.S. two-stage thermonuclear weapons.
- Just six months ago, most experts claimed North Korean ICBMs could not miniaturize an ABomb or design a reentry vehicle for missile delivery. Now the intelligence community reportedly assesses North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons, and has developed reentry vehicles for missile delivery, including by ICBMs that can strike the U.S.1
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. (source)
So, for 17 years, this group has been ringing the warning bell and no one has been listening. Now that the threat is at our doorstep, their funding has been pulled. Something doesn’t add up.
The technology exists for a North Korean EMP attack
A successful attack doesn’t even require a Super-EMP weapon. The Commission concluded that even a primitive weapon could successfully render our infrastructure obsolete.
“Therefore, terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or military base, they may obtain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them—or threatening their use—in an EMP attack.” (source)
But that isn’t the worst of in. In 2004, two Russian generals told the EMP Commission that their design for a Super-EMP weapon was “accidentally transferred to North Korea.”
Let that sink in. Somehow, North Korea has had their hands on the design for an incredibly powerful EMP weapon for more than a decade. The report says:
In 2004, two Russian generals, both EMP experts, warned the EMP Commission that the design for Russia’s Super-EMP warhead, capable of generating high-intensity EMP fields over 100,000 volts per meter, was “accidentally” transferred to North Korea. They also said that due to “brain drain,” Russian scientists were in North Korea, as were Chinese and Pakistani scientists according to the Russians, helping with the North’s missile and nuclear weapon programs.
In 2009, South Korean military intelligence told their press that Russian scientists are in North Korea helping develop an EMP nuclear weapon. In 2013, a Chinese military commentator stated North Korea has Super-EMP nuclear weapons.
Super-EMP weapons are low-yield and designed to produce not a big kinetic explosion, but rather a high level of gamma rays, which generates the high-frequency E1 EMP that is most damaging to the broadest range of electronics. North Korean nuclear tests, including the first in 2006, whose occurrence was predicted to the EMP Commission two years in advance by the two Russian EMP experts, mostly have yields consistent with the size of a Super-EMP weapon. The Russian generals’ accurate prediction about when North Korea would perform its first nuclear test, and of a yield consistent with a Super-EMP weapon, indicates their warning about a North Korean Super-EMP weapon should be taken very seriously. (source)
The report says that while everyone is focused on the future, when Pyongyang may develop “highly reliable intercontinental missiles, guidance systems, and reentry vehicles”, a North Korean EMP attack wouldn’t require that level of accuracy.
EMP attack does not require an accurate guidance system because the area of effect, having a radius of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, is so large. No reentry vehicle is needed because the warhead is detonated at high altitude, above the atmosphere. Missile reliability matters little because only one missile has to work to make an EMP attack against an entire nation. (source)
It would be a strategic initial strike to take down the American power grid to disable the maority of the country before undertaking any other form of attack.
How would a North Korean EMP attack be likely to occur?
Potential vehicles of attack are submarines or freighters, which could launch an EMP weapon to the relatively low altitude of 30 kilometers over the United States. Unsettlingly, “even a balloon-lofted warhead detonated at 30 kilometers altitude could blackout the Eastern Electric Power Grid that supports most of the population and generates 75 percent of U.S. electricity.”
A more likely choice would be a satellite.
A Super-EMP weapon could be relatively small and lightweight, and could fit inside North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 (KMS-3) and Kwangmyongsong-4 (KMS-4) satellites. These two satellites presently orbit over the United States, and over every other nation on Earth– demonstrating, or posing, a potential EMP threat against the entire world.
North Korea’s KMS-3 and KMS-4 satellites were launched to the south on polar trajectories and passed over the United States on their first orbit. Pyongyang launched KMS-4 on February 7, 2017, shortly after its fourth illegal nuclear test on January 6, that began the present protracted nuclear crisis with North Korea.
The south polar trajectory of KMS-3 and KMS-4 evades U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radars and National Missile Defenses, resembling a Russian secret weapon developed during the Cold War, called the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) that would have used a nuclear-armed satellite to make a surprise EMP attack on the United States. (source)
The report goes on to explain that our defense systems are completely unready for any of these scenarios.
There’s a lot of misinformation about the threat of EMPs.
The report counters a great deal of misinformation about the threat of EMPs. While no one really wants to consider the devastating effects, many “uninformed persons posturing as experts” completely deny the possibility. However, the Commission says that the empirical basis for an EMP attack is better established than that of a cyber attack.
They offered numerous examples of hard data regarding the effects of EMPs.
- The U.S. STARFISH PRIME high-altitude nuclear test in 1962 over Johnston Island that generated an EMP field over the Hawaiian Islands, over 1,300 kilometers away, causing widespread damage to electronic systems.
- Six Russian EMP tests 1961-1962 over Kazakhstan that with a single weapon destroyed electric grids over an area larger than Western Europe, proving this capability six times.
- 30 years (1962-1992) of U.S. underground nuclear testing that included collecting data on EMP effects.
- Over 50 years of testing by EMP simulators, still ongoing, including by the Congressional EMP Commission (2001-2008) that proved modern electronics are over 1 million times more vulnerable to EMP than the electronics of 1962.
- “Radio Frequency Weapons were used in separate incidents against the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to falsely set off alarms and to induce a fire in a sensitive area.”
- “In Kzlyar, Dagestan, Russia, Chechen rebel commander Salman Raduyev disabled police radio communications using RF transmitters during a raid.”
- “In June 1999 in Bellingham, Washington, RF energy from a radar induced a SCADA malfunction that caused a gas pipeline to rupture and explode.”
- “In 1999, a Robinson R-44 news helicopter nearly crashed when it flew by a high-frequency broadcast antenna.”
- North Korea used a Radio Frequency Weapon, purchased from Russia, to attack airliners and impose an “electromagnetic blockade” on air traffic to Seoul, South Korea’s capital. The repeated attacks by RFW also disrupted communications and the operation of automobiles in several South Korean cities in December 2010; March 9, 2011; and April-May 2012.(source)
The threat is real. So, again, why would the Department of Defense withdraw funding from the Commission that wants to take steps to harden our infrastructure against this possibility?
What would the aftermath of an EMP attack look like?
The Commission cited several examples of real-world electrical grid failures and their catastrophic consequences.
- The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003–that put 50 million people in the dark for a day, contributed to at least 11 deaths, and cost an estimated $6 billion—originated from a single failure point when a powerline contacted a tree branch, damaging less than 0.0000001 (0.00001%) of the system.
- The New York City Blackout of 1977, that resulted in the arrest of 4,500 looters and injury of 550 police officers, was caused by a lightning strike on a substation that tripped two circuit breakers.
- The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, that effected (sic) 30 million people, happened because a protective relay on a transmission line was improperly set.
- India’s nationwide blackout of July 30-31, 2012—the largest blackout in history, effecting (sic) 670 million people, 9% of the world population—was caused by overload of a single high-voltage powerline.
- India’s blackout of January 2, 2001—effecting 226 million people—was caused by equipment failure at the Uttar Pradesh substation.
- Indonesia’s blackout of August 18, 2005—effecting 100 million people—was caused by overload of a high-voltage powerline.
- Brazil’s blackout of March 11, 1999—effecting 97 million people—was caused by a lightning strike on an EHV transformer substation.
- Italy’s blackout of September 28, 2003—effecting 55 million people—was caused by overload of two high-voltage powerlines.
- Germany, France, Italy, and Spain experienced partial blackouts on November 4, 2006 effecting (sic)10-15 million people—from accidental shutdown of a high-voltage powerline.
- The San Francisco blackout in April 2017 was caused by the failure of a single high voltage breaker (source)
My mind immediately goes to the down-grid disaster occurring right now in Puerto Rico.
The death toll from such a disaster would be unprecedented:
The result could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans—as the EMP Commission testified over eight years ago.
We’re talking about the deaths of more than 270 million people.
President Trump signed an Executive Order in May called “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure” which will hopefully harden our country against both cyber attacks and EMPs. The Commission provided a list of actionable suggestions on pages 11-14 of this report, but will the steps be undertaken before it’s too late? Especially now that they’re defunct.
How do you prep for something so massive?
It doesn’t seem as though the government is very interested in taking steps to protect our power grid. We can look at what is happening in Puerto Rico as a glimpse of the apocalyptic future that would follow such an attack. Restoring power after an EMP could take multiple years, and things in America would never be the same after a sustained change in our way of life.
The result of an EMP attack would be a protracted blackout that would put at risk the lives of millions of people. Climate control, a lack of off-grid survival skills, looting, lawlessness, lack of medication, starvation, waterborne disease – all of these threats to our survival cannot be overlooked. If you haven’t read the book One Second After, I recommend you do so for a fictionalized yet nonetheless realistic look at life after the grid. If that doesn’t inspire you to prepare for such an event, nothing will.
The best resource for preparing for an attack like this is Disaster Preparedness for EMP and Solar Storms, by Dr. Arthur T. Bradley. A NASA scientist, Dr. Bradley has spent years studying the aftereffects of such a catastrophe. His book dispels many myths an provides realistic, lifesaving information. My personal plan is a low-tech one – I am not spending a fortune on generators and fancy gadgets I wouldn’t be able to use once the fuel runs out.
Preparing for something this massive is beyond the scope of this article. I strongly encourage you to begin researching and create your own low-tech plan. Don’t put it off until you get your perfect homestead in the boondocks or you talk your family members into it. Disasters like this don’t wait for a convenient time – in fact, strategically speaking, the less convenient it is, the more the attacker benefits.
If World War 3 starts off with an EMP, it renders many of our plans moot. We have been warned in the strongest terms possible, but will it be enough?
What do you think?
What are your thoughts on this? Why do you think the DoD terminated the funding for the EMP commission? Do you think that an EMP attack is a likely strategy for North Korea to employ?
I think Daisy that the DOD EMP commission dealt with hardening military communications and weaponry against the effects of EMP. No doubt the commission has been in place for 50 years or so. As for the civilian infrastructure I would look to Homeland Security or other multi-agency commissions focused on the broader issue of our national grid. Love your work please keep it up
Considering the New Orleans and Houston FEMA response, I want them gone. They are more of a hindrance than a help. Any govt approach to the problem is going to be ‘top down’, draconian and not much help.
You want help? Go dig up the old Civil Defense documents from the 1950’s. Their focus was neighborhood based. Govt planners back then realized that the govt would not be able to respond one wit when it was a national level disaster. Bottom line only you can save you.
I’m wondering if the EO Trump signed in May might be taking the place of The Commission to access the threat. Trump has said that for every new regulation, two have to go, so maybe this commission was seen as redundant. I really have no idea.
It is troubling to me that the government has known for years what an EMP would do and did nothing to protect our infrastructure.
Just goes to show that we are mostly on our own and responsible for our own survival. Living without power would be challenging to say the least, but here at our home we have tried to plan for it. Not sure how long we could survive, but we’re going to try.
cry wolf as often as you can and screem fire in crowded places, shoot people at music events, this is just the poke the elephant stuff corrupt governments do every day like climate change shure it exists over thousand of years just tiny bits at a time ,shure EMP exists but it has been weaponized they did one near Capetown. The networks and distribution systems have better hardened lines now and a thin metal skin is all you need to make a Faraday cage for anything anywhere.
thanks for the great articles keep it up.
About 8 – 10 years ago, I heard someone else warning about our vulnerability to an EMP attack, and he stated that one of the major roadblocks to implementing protection devices, like surge protectors on high voltage lines, are the power company lobbies. They don’t want to have to raise their rates, at least that’s the argument. Also, he claimed that all super-high voltage transformers that would be burned up are made in China! If this is true that our traitorous government has allowed this essential manufacturing industry to be outsourced, we’re toast.
My neighbor that is preparing for a possible EMP strike want’s to keep his technical goodies. As for me, I agree with you, go back to keeping it basic, non-technical, relying on the old ways.
Ted Koppel wrote about where the replacement parts are manufactured–in China.
Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
Book by Ted Koppel
Many high end parts are made in several countries. Look the transformers and grid connects that sit at a electrical substation run up into the millions of dollars EACH. They are custom built to a spec and sent out for contract bid. They are not ‘off the shelf’ items. A substation here in north texas was recently built. A single HE transformer was $6m and they needed ten of them. An outfit in the Netherlands won the bid. There was a 24month lead time from placing the order to receipt of goods and another six months of transport and site placement.
Shameful fear mongering … All wars are orchestrated.
I lived in Bellingham, WA when that pipeline erupted. The was the first time I have heard the exact cause. Surprised but not shocked.
Daisy,the reason behind the defunding of the congressional EMP commission is a collusion between the US government ,North Korea and the UN for the purpose of POPULATION CONTROL in the US.The UN says that there is only enough water and food grown to take care of 50 million people in the US.With this EMP,it fulfills their evil plan in killing off as much of the population in the US as possible.We have known about this for a while.This is what the two satellites that NK put up stationary above the US are for,and why nothing has been done to disable them and send them out into space where they can do no one harm.This has been in the planning for quite some time.The entire population of the US is unaware of this,and will never know what hit them when NK or whom ever has control of these satellites sends them down into the upper atmosphere and detonates them over the US.We suspect they will use both,setting one off over Colorado’s northern border and the other over the the Mississippi river, in the area of the Northwestern border of Tennessee.This will destroy the electrical grid across the US,west to east,north to south effectively knocking the US back into the 1700’s before electricity was invented.Those who have the know how and are healthy,WILL SURVIVE.
When is all this supposed to happen? Who has a timeline? Those in the know realize this country is trashed anyway, and Trump has zero control over the deep state agenda and those at the top. We are selling the house like some have done, and moving into a rental so we won’t be stuck in one place if we have to bug out. People will freeze to death without power in winter and hot summers will be miserable for those in super hot areas of the country. Voting or any political activities now days is useless and a waste of time and has been for many decades. Get house in order and hope it doesn’t happen.
To begin with, Congressional Commissions are toothless wasting of money. After 2 decades of no one listening, Why bother? and the DOD is the wrong Department.
DHS would seem more appropriate IF there is an insistence on the Feral Gubmint doing anything worthwhile.
Personally, the Department of CYA is all that is going to function. No matter how primitively it will be under your direct control. People did live in 1880…….. and even earlier!!!
But only a few “preppers” will even prepare for a Grid Down of 3 to 6 months, forget a year! and Most Others in their Hubris, Denial, and Normalcy Bias will just die off by the millions.
Not to worry, the Chinese Army will belatedly arrive on the West Coast of the USSA as “peacekeepers” after most are dead.
The Feral Gubmint lands in the Western States have been pledged as collateral for our Debts to China, so of course the Chinese will arrive to mine their mineral rights.
CYA, Comrades and Welcome to the USSA!!! America was Sold OUT by our Elitist Political and ProgreSSive Class.
If the US is without power for a year, we will be invaded! If 90% of the population dies then civilization, at least in the US, will collapse. All industry will stop. If 90% of the population are dead there won’t be enough people with the required knowledge to start any industry or manufacturing back into production. It’s not the loss of facilities here, it’s the loss of knowledge, experience, and hands on training. Most of that kind of knowledge (procedural) never gets written down and if it does its never updated when procedures change. The people with the most experience, those in their 50s and 60s, will suffer loss rates in excess of 90%. How much of the rest of the world will collapse? I don’t know, but probably much of it, if not all.
So what level does technology drop to? My guess is if we are lucky technology will only fall back to 1750. That’s when the industrial revolution started! The highest form of power will be the waterwheel!
So, just when you thought a year’s supply of food was enough you think this scenario through and you realize a year’s supply of food doesn’t even begin to touch it. What we need is a fully documented history of technology complete with construction plans, operating and maintenance procedures for everything built since 1750 and before too. I’ve started on that but its too big and expensive a task for one old man! Oh, don’t forget a complete knowledge of all sciences, engineering, math, earth sciences, medicine, war, history, etc. Volunteers and patrons wanted to help with this project.
I believe we already have that. It’s in the Library of Congress, on their hard drive.
That would be relying on the government and preppers don’t do that! Besides who do you think they will give it too? The remainders of the deep state, that’s who!
If you keep digging…
The secret space program(s) can destroy any/all missiles launched from North Korea. Some of the better defense systems, can destroy a missile launched from close in to the CONUS that heads straight up.
Two super EMP detonations would be required to cover the US, while six convention EMPs would be required.
Should we all be sent back to 1750 – I recommend you start printing some of these articles now:
Wow! Thanks. I’ve bookmarked this site so I can look at it at my leisure. Now the question is – do I have enough reams of paper for printing?
I have several three ring binders with all kinds of instructions for different topics that I’ve collected over the past few years, just for this very reason, although I don’t have instructions on building equipment. Mine leans toward homesteading and medical things.
Thanks again for the info!
@Jeff, I agree. This is a great site thanks for the heads up.
This may be a positive…The commission’s concerns are beginning to gain traction and an entity in the government will take ownership in doing something about the EMP impacts. The commission has worked its way out of a job. The DOD will carry the flag.
Additionally, Trump is making numerous “common sense decisions” that were not made while the commission was in existence.
Without knowing more, it’s hard to say why they cut funding to the (then) current EMP Commission. Anything in government that’s been around that long is prone to self-perpetuation and uselessness. Hopefully, something better takes its place. There’s a lot of wild “folk wisdom” in the public for what would likely happen to civilian electronics. Some realistic tests would be great.
As for North Korea, such an attack would be suicidal and they know it. Hard to see a scenario in which they actually want to do it.
Thank you for this report on EMP. I appreciate your thrones. I too will be working on low tec solutions. Unfortunately an EMP is possibly only the beginning of the war to come. I am expecting ground forces to follow at some point once the enemy has assessed the results of the EMP. I am going to hold out as long as possible. ” DIG IN” and fight! I can’t understand why the powers that be have not taken steps to harden the grid? Or why funding was cut unless they think there is no solution and plans for retaliation are the final solution. US has many bases around the globe and more options for retaliation then we can ever know. However none of that will save us. We will have to save our selves.
thanks Man on foot.
The problem here is that Americans do not understand the Washington DC does not see NKoreans as a threat, they see them as their savior. How can that be: The politicians know that America is unfixable at this point. There is no way out of the National Debt, the quagmire of the Middle East, or the unfundable retirement programs and social welfare mentality here at home. Therefore a war, which must be nuclear, and most certainly will include and emp against the homeland, will automatically rule null and void all of the above mentioned problems. Not only will it do that, it will leave only 10% of the current population for the politicians and military to deal with. This is an extreme acute blessing for those in power, since they have COG (continuity of government) plans in place to keep them alive and in control. A person either understands this or they don’t and frankly even if one understands it and makes appropriate preps, it is till highly unlikely we will survive. But we have to try, don’t we?
I think people are ignoring the threat because they dismiss it as ‘impossible’ and think that ‘it’s never going to happen’. And the government is, after all, just people who are capable of ignoring threats until the damage is done.
Daisy, thanks for the excellent article. Unfortunately, there is an EMP consequence that is far more serious than those you’ve mentioned, and far more difficult to be prepared for. One of the best articles on the topic is at the following link, with sources and links to associated organizations at the end. Since this article was written, I’ve found nothing about any corrective actions completed or even started (just endless unproductive meetings). Considering the greatly increased severity of the EMP consequences this highlights, and considerable impact on prep plans for many, it might be worth a follow-up to your article.
Keep up the great work,
Daisy, here’s an image to show areas of concern within 50-miles of each site, although, much further downwind with the prevailing and seasonal winds would be prudent.
When you go looking for your lost wallet and then you find it, you don’t keep looking for it, do you? I expect the EMP Commission has done it’s job and issued the report that y’all are talking about.
The government has spent the missing trillions of dollars (the tax payers money) setting themselves up with secure underground lavish structures complete with the finest of foods, hospital equipment, seeds, entertainment, fresh water and accommodations just for themselves. Why would they worry about a population they no longer want or need?