Given the rising tensions between the United States and North Korea, much talk has centered around the the possibility of nuclear war.
However, experts believe there is another threat Americans need to be worried about.
According to a report presented earlier this month to a House Homeland Security subcommittee, North Korea could do far more damage to the populace with an electromagnetic pulse attack that could disable the electric grid.
An estimated 90 percent of the U.S. population could be wiped out by an EMP, which doesn’t have to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere in order to be effective.
Conventional ICBMs need to hit close to a physical target in order to be effective. But an EMP attached to a warhead could detonate hundreds of miles above land and still inflict massive devastation, as it would “shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period,” according to the report.
Worse yet, North Korea could rig the EMP to explode even if it’s intercepted by U.S. missiles.
If such an attack were to happen, the consequences could inevitably lead to mass starvation.
“An EMP that blacks out the electric grid for a year would (decimate) the critical infrastructure necessary to support such a large population,” he told Forbes.
Pry broke down a timeline of how the chaos might ensue, noting that after the first three days, the local food and grocery supply would be depleted. Eventually, stock in regional warehouses would begin to spoil.
After a year passed, about 90 percent of the US would die from “starvation, disease and societal collapse,” according to Forbes.
Initial casualties, however, would result from downed airplanes. An EMP would disrupt air traffic control systems and fry all airplane electronics.
“Airliners would crash killing many of the 500,000 people flying over North America at any given moment,” Pry said.
Still, NPR downplayed the possibility of an EMP attack — even when former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey told the outlet an EMP poses the most immediate threat.
Moreover, James Clay Moltz, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, doesn’t think the danger is as serious as others have made it out to be.
“There are legitimate concerns about EMP effects, but a non-tested system by a country with limited missile experience lowers the immediate threat,” he said. “But predictions of mass U.S. casualties and demands for costly defenses against a (North Korean) EMP attack seem unjustified at this time.”
But Fry and Dr. William R. Graham, both of whom were part of the recently-defunded EMP commission, think otherwise.
“It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue,” they told the House subcommittee, as reported by Futurism. “And give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP.”
When asked by Forbes what the U.S. could do to prevent an EMP attack, Pry suggested surgical strikes to destroy North Korea’s ICBMs.
However, he said if the government is looking for a less hostile move, an EMP-hardening of the electric grid and other critical infrastructure would be the next best bet.
Image and Content: Western Journalism