North Korea could cripple U.S. power grid with high-altitude EMP blast
September 11, 2017 -- North Korea’s recent nuclear weapons test is fuelling concerns over a potential high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack which could cripple power supplies and electronic systems across a wide area.
Shortly after North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test on September 3, Pyongyang declared that it had acquired an EMP weapon, according to state media.
An EMP weapon generates a pulse that does not directly kill or injure humans or damage buildings, but it paralyzes electronics, telecommunications, transport networks and other social infrastructure. A single blast can cause tremendous damage, especially to modern societies heavily reliant on electronics.
According to a 2004 report submitted to the U.S. Congress by an expert panel, an EMP attack that crippled social infrastructure across the United States would require several years of repairs, leading to mass shortages of food, fuel, medicine and other goods as well as widespread sanitation problems. As a result of starvation and epidemics, the report astonishingly concludes that 90 percent of Americans would die within a year.