The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Largely over­looked by both gov­ern­ment and pri­vate mis­sile an­a­lysts con­cern­ing the new North Korean lon­grange mis­sile is the dan­ger that Py­ongyang will use the sys­tem to con­duct a dev­as­tat­ing elec­tro­mag­netic pulse, or EMP, at­tack rather than a mis­sile-de­liv­ered nu­clear ground burst.

Peter Pry, a for­mer con­gres­sional staff mem­ber who helped lead a com­mis­sion on EMP, be­lieves ini­tial as­sess­ments of the new North Korean mis­sile’s range are in­cor­rect. Cur­rent es­ti­mates are the Hwa­song-14 has the range to reach all of Alaska.

The Pen­tagon an­nounced that the new ICBM ini­tially was as­sessed as an in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile with a range of be­tween 1,800 and 3,400 miles. Later anal­y­sis, how­ever, re­vealed the mis­sile has a range of greater than 3,400 miles — con­sid­ered in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal range.

“Per­haps, most im­por­tantly, none of the anal­y­sis of the threat posed by North Korea’s ICBM con­sid­ers the pos­si­bil­ity it could be used to make an EMP at­tack,” Mr. Pry told In­side the Ring.

“Most an­a­lysts are still pre­dict­ing a North Korean ICBM threat to the U.S. heart­land is still sev­eral years away be­cause, sup­pos­edly, the North still has to de­velop a re-en­try ve­hi­cle and ac­cu­rate guid­ance sys­tem to hit U.S. cities,” he noted.

How­ever, an EMP at­tack in­volves set­ting off a war­head at high al­ti­tude, some 20 miles to 250 miles in space, and does not re­quire a re-en­try ve­hi­cle.

Ac­cu­racy also is not re­quired as an EMP strike can af­fect all elec­tron­ics over an area stretch­ing hun­dreds of square miles.

“In­deed, a North Korean mis­sile would not even have to reach the con­ti­nen­tal United States to make an EMP at­tack that could black out the elec­tric grid for months or years, en­dan­ger­ing mil­lions of Amer­i­cans,” he said.

“A weapon det­o­nated at high al­ti­tude over the Pa­cific or over Canada could be hun­dreds of kilo­me­ters dis­tant from the U.S. main­land and still project an EMP field deep into the United States. EMP is the threat here and now that ev­ery­one ig­nores.”

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