Congress was warned Thursday that North Korea is capable of attacking the U.S. today with a nuclear EMP bomb that could indefinitely shut down the electric power grid and kill 90 percent of "all Americans" within a year.
At a House hearing, experts said that North Korea could easily employ the "doomsday scenario" to turn parts of the U.S. to ashes.
In calling on the Pentagon and President Trump to move quickly to protect the grid, the experts testified that an explosion of a high-altitude nuclear bomb delivered by a missile or satellite "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."
Two members of the former congressional EMP commission said the threat to the U.S. has never been higher, in part because of the current high level of saber rattling by both sides and North Korea's surprising display over the past six months of its ability to deliver on its threats.
"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," the experts told a House Homeland Security subcommittee.
William R. Graham, chairman of the former EMP commission and its former chief of staff, Peter Vincent Pry, said that the U.S. has ignored the warning signs for years and that North Korea's military moves this year must be seen as a wake-up call.
- 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 H-Bomb. 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 A-Bomb 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.
- 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.
Their testimony also highlighted the failure of the Pentagon or Congress to extend the life of the EMP Commission and they recommended deeper study into the threat, include from a simple solar flare.
"Our current vulnerability invites attack," they said.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com