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Hard and Seoul

April 4th, 2013 - 2:41 pm

A reader wrote by email to ask “what would happen if N. Korea launches a war?”. The known answers to that question are laid out in a summary of known contingency plans. The basic answer is that the Republic of Korea gets seriously damaged, but North Korea does not survive. “Pyongyang has the ability to start a new Korean War, but not to survive one.” The essential points to remember are that the bulk of forces on both sides are facing each other across the border.

North Korean ground forces, totaling some 1 million soldiers, are composed of some 170 divisions and brigades including infantry, artillery, tank, mechanized and special operation forces. Of the total, about 60 divisions and brigades are deployed south of the Pyongyang-Wonsan line. North Korea has deployed more than half of its key forces in forward bases near the border. Seventy percent of their active force, to include 700,000 troops, 8,000 artillery systems, and 2,000 tanks, is garrisoned within 100 miles of the Demilitarized Zone.

The ROK is deployed to keep them from rushing down the only corridors that will support logistical movement. “Most probably, the DPRK attack would aim at seizing nearby Seoul by advancing down the Kaesong-Munsan, Kumwa, and Chorwon corridors. … Initially, the primary battlefield would be only about 125 kilometers wide and 100 kilometers deep.”  If a new Korean War broke out it would be an clash of mind-boggling intensity across a very concentrated front.

It is said that “Pyongyang can credibly threaten the prompt destruction of Seoul with conventional arms alone” largely by employing artillery emplaced north of Seoul. But the devil in the details is that of its vaunted thousands of artillery pieces only “500 long-range artillery tubes [are] within range of Seoul”. Many of the older pieces can only reach limited parts of it.

The mobility of these pieces under almost certain South Korean and US air superiority is questionable. And their ability to continue firing will be determined by the effectiveness of counterbattery.

Thus, in the early 2000s, the US planned to augment ROK’s counterbattery radar in the event of an attack. After experience in the Middle East, the use of UAVs was emphasized. But their object is the same. With these assets in play North Korea’s artillery fist will gradually wither under counterfire.

The big American contribution will be in supporting systems. While earlier operations plans emphasized American reinforcements in terms of troop numbers, actual boots and tanks, the more recent plans are centered around the provision of force multipliers. This probably includes laser guided artillery shells, and missiles, radar, UAVs, in addition of course to the ubiquitous JDAMs and laser guided bombs.

In isolation Seoul will almost certainly defeat Pyongyang in a new Korean War. War will mean the death of the Kim dynasty though at the cost of very heavy damage to Seoul and the border area. The sheer scale of the engaged forces guarantee it. But the outcome is clear.

One on one, Seoul always wins. So the object of North Korean strategy is to ensure that whatever happens it is never one on one.

Since the involvement of the Chinese and the United States into the equation creates such an unacceptable risk  such that both Washington and Tokyo will endure almost any provocation to avoid it, North Korea’s primary strategic aim is to make sure America is always caught up in the toils.  Once America and China are in the picture, Pyongyang can hope for a stalemate. Once it is internationalized Seoul will be less likely to finish North Korea than in an isolated conflict.

What has protected Pyongyang against Seoul is the knowledge that any American incursion deep into North Korea may bring on a Chinese intervention. But with the growing power of the South and the forward deployment of North Korean forces  most of Pyongyang’s army is vulnerable to encirclement and destruction close to Seoul. South Korea does not need to march with the US forces on Pyongyang to destroy Kim. If Seoul can destroy’s Kim’s army near the DMZ, they can almost literally send cops north to arrest him. The remnant North Koreans will probably deliver him in a coffin to Seoul.

One on one, Seoul always wins.

So the North Korean problem might be stated as ‘how to threaten Seoul without giving South Korea the freedom to finish it on its own’; to make threats severe enough to extract blackmail payments yet always keep Washington at the end of the hook.  Pyongyang’s answer to this dilemma is to make implicit threats that have an unavoidable regional dimension.

North Korea has begun moving its mid-range missile launchers, possibly indicating a looming test as tensions are already boiling on the peninsula, U.S. officials told Fox News.

Earlier Thursday, South Korea said North Korea moved a missile with “considerable range” to its east coast after an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean army warned the U.S. Wednesday that its military has been cleared to wage an attack using “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear” weapons.

The idea is probably to involve US assets in the theater again. Keep it international.  The stakes are such that an attack on a US installation by a North Korean conventional warhead would probably not compel the Obama administration into full scale hostilities. It would raise the heat without the pot necessarily boiling over.

That’s where missile defense comes in.

The nonobvious purpose of missile defense is to isolate the international scene from Kim’s threats. In general it allows the capability to manage the escalation process. If it can keep America out of the line of fire while allowing America to provide limited support for Seoul, it is advantage America.

For, as we have seen, in an isolated scenario Seoul always wins, albeit at great cost to itself. Earlier this year Yonhap reported that “South Korea and U.S. forces jointly carried out a one-day drill in early February to rehearse key tasks in planning and execution of combined ballistic missile defense”.  Whether or not the state of preparation is  enough, the existence of theater ballistic missile capability is a vital factor. It puts Kim’s strategic goals out of reach.

It presents Kim with unattractive strategic choices: if he continues a policy of belligerence he must either start a fight with ROK that he can’t win or he must desist.  The world wants him to desist.

If North Korea can be deprived of effective threat moves  long enough then it may implode on itself or come to Jesus. Or so the thinking goes. The basic problem with this calculus is Murphy.  Murphy can throw a wrench into the calculus. With North Korea going from provocation to provocation there is always risk of something going wrong. Always the chance that someone doesn’t get the word.  The nightmare scenario is the same as in all tightrope walking. One false move and someone falls off the wire.


The following paragraphs are purely a work of fiction and have no analytic value. They are presented purely for visualization purposes. One day in summer, 2013 a flash report on TV:

Initial reports from Seoul reports that hundreds of artillery shells landed on the South Korean capital at rush hour today. Thousands of persons are feared dead or injured. A DNN correspondent reports seeing explosions and columns of smoke from his hotel room. Uploaded YouTube video shows the chaotic, bloody scenes in emergency hospitals that were described as “hell”. Some YouTube video shows the sky above Seoul crisscrossed by streaks or contrails.

“I can see streaks the the sky. I am not sure if they are jets. Yes, there go F-16s. Whether South Korean or American I cannot tell. But over there! What seems like ripple fire from a rocket launcher. The missiles are going over the border into North Korea. Oh God!

The streets are clogged with vehicles of panicked civilians trying to get somewhere. The cell phone net is down from millions of calls all trying to connect simultaneously. It’s like a nightmare.

Meanwhile in a bunker in North Korea.

President Kim: Who gave the order to fire?

Chief of the General Staff: I don’t know Mr. President. Our best guess is an error in communications. We were supposed to conduct a drill with no live ammunition on pre-registered targets in Seoul. The schools and shopping malls were zeroed in. We’ve drilled this a hundred times before. Somehow the orders were sent to fire live.

President Kim: Aren’t there checks to make sure the order is valid?

Chief of the General Staff: Yes, but ever since we have moved to a hair-trigger footing we disabled some of the validation procedures to realistically simulate combat.

President Kim: So you are saying we goofed?

Chief of the General Staff: It may have happened. May I suggest that we accuse the Americans and their running dogs of purposely hacking into our communications networks and sending a fake order to fire on Seoul?

President Kim: That would make us look like idiots.

Chief of the General Staff: I am sure most of the Western Left would believe it. They would believe anything. But we have to stop the South Koreans somehow! In the last 4 hours they have destroyed 200 of our artillery tubes and launchers.  The are locating the firing positions to an accuracy of 5 meters and bury each with delayed detonation penetrating projectiles.

President Kim: How long till they are all silenced?

Chief of the General Staff: No more than 24 hours. And what is worse our agents report that a operations plan we don’t know about is being put into effect by the ROK. Operation Shit Through a Goose. It’s something we have never heard of before.  I am afraid …

President Kim: There is no turning back now, we must get the Americans to stop Park! Give the order for our special forces in the South to attack according to Case Golden. Car bombs on the Western embassies. Commando teams into all the major hotels.

Sometime later the evening of the first day the major media stations report from Seoul.

We have lost contact with our correspondent as he was broadcasting from his hotel. He reported hearing a commotion and gunfire downstairs. I have asked US officials in Seoul if they can locate or make contact with anyone from that hotel, but we have so far failed to get through even to the Embassy. Stand by. Stand by. The Secretary of State is announcing a press conference beginning in 15 minutes.

Mr. Secretary, Mr. Secretary. Where is the President? Where is the President?

“The President is on the line with the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of South Korea. He will be calling for restraint.”

Mr. Secretary, Mr. Secretary, can you comment on news that the ROK 9th “White Horse division” has crossed the border into the North?

“I cannot comment on that at this time.”

Mr. Secretary, can you comment on reports that the Embassy has been attacked and the Marines are in a room to room fight with North Koreans who approached disguised as ROK servicemen?

“We are asking for an emergency meeting of the Security Council.”

Glad none of that can happen.

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All Comments   (67)
All Comments   (67)
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Seriously? All the NorKs have to do is drop a basketball sized object anywhere it can be found and identified as North korean and Kim gets the message across.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My money is on the Norks launching an EMP weapon on Japan. That provides the best percentage of return for interested parties. Their missiles can hit plus/minus 10 miles with no issues, it's not a long range shot, their bomb is easily capable of adequate damage. The Japanese are "sensitive" to fallout issues but wouldn't strike back the way they would if it was a ground strike with immediate / visible casualties. It's a great blow to an old enemy and indirectly would crash the capitalist economic system. China takes out a rival keeping their hands clean. The Champ can provide humanitarian relief for Japan while not having to intervene militarily (other maybe a few drone strikes or using Project Thor on the reactors). The South Koreans will be so happy they didn't get hit they won't elect to attack in response (and they don't like the Japanese either). The Norks get to justify their propaganda and would probably skate clean.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ya'll are betting that:

1. The NorK's do not have the weapon(s) to launch the EMP or thermonuclear attack
2. The EMP would not be answered. (Really?)
3. That wretchard was wrong in his 3 Conjectures (just substitute Jihadist Islam for crazy commies).

Not good bets, any of them.

War fighting systems are hardened. Civilian infrastructure may or may not be. (The answer depends on how scared you want to make yourself)

That The Won would not answer an attack. Heck, he LIKES drones. What makes you think he would not embrace a B2?

wretchard is right in that SKor and Japan would bring devastating force to bear if attacked. Causus belli applies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The scenario which seems to best fit the very inadequate information available is that internal DPRK politics has been in play as Kim Jong Un establishes himself as supreme dictator.

On the plus side from Kim’s perspective: A Minister of the armed forces and a Minister of internal security have been purged, the Kim Dynasty has been written into the constitution, a law has been passed which makes it illegal to conduct any diplomacy concerning nuclear weapons, and an array of normal annual business has been completed.

On the negative side, Kim Jong Un has to deal with the fact that the DPRK finds itself at war with the United Nations. A nontrivial issue, imo.

The UN now includes China. And China is not happy - it could be the big loser if Kim’s politics persuade Japan to go nuclear. China voted for the harsh UN sanctions, and I’ve seen a report that China cut off oil exports to the DPRK on Feb 12, the day of the semi-successful atomic test.

FWIW, apparently the power couple behind Kim Jong Un is his uncle Chang Song Taek and his wife Kim Kyong Hui, the late Kim Chong-il’s sister.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pierre Legrand

I do not dispute that we are at risk of a North Korean [or Pakistani, or Iranian] EMP attack. Nor do I argue about the effects, agreeing wholeheartedly. I will quibble about them using their TAEPODONG satellite launch vehicle variants to deliver AT THIS TIME. A notational primitive fission nuclear gravity bomb absent American or Russian level design skills weighs about 1300 lbs, of which 55 lbs would be weapons grade U-235. Notationally, a similar ICBM warhead weighs about 350 lbs, containing a similar amount of U-235. The design challenge is reducing the mass while at the same time increasing the robustness of the package to handle the dynamic stresses of launch and flight and still function as designed.

The ability to put a 350 lb package into a selected orbit with a low point of about 150 miles is the rough marker of having a booster/guidance package for an ICBM. From what I data have seen, the satellite launched has a weight of about 200 lbs. Not quite there for a direct launch of an ICBM from North Korea to hit a detonation point that will get most of the country. [direct line of sight horizon from a detonation point in the ionosphere] Are the western coastal states at risk now? Possibly/probably. Are we at immediate risk of a "SCUD IN A BUCKET" type launch of a shorter range missile from a ship at closer range? Without doubt. Can the ICBM status change quickly? Without doubt. They seem to be using Iranian missiles as a 3rd stage, and any improvement to their capabilities that can be mated to the lower stages, or improvements in those lower stages, can put us at direct risk without warning.

Is some sort of attack possible shortly? Yes. The Norks have moved a second, shorter ranged MUSADAN liquid fueled missile to a launch pad. It can reach most of Asia with a single warhead. It has to be fueled at the launch site, and actually can be kept in a ready condition for a period of days. But it cannot yet reach the US.

The North Korean government has ordered all foreign embassies closed, and all their nationals out of the country by Wednesday the 10th. That gives us a time hack, along with the wait time possible for the MUSADAN’s. The problem, as always, involves the reticence of our [Deity help us] “National Command Authority” to make any decisions positive for this country. If North Korea extended the range of their missiles to reach us the reaction of the White House would be to suppress the data and then choose whether to go on a family vacation or a more modest but still exorbitant golf weekend with Tiger Woods.

Being a not nice person, I am pondering the merits of evacuating American dependents, and the effects of a single Raufoss Mark 211 Mod 0 .50 caliber API round on a fueled and pressurized MUSADAN.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am sorry but those comments about North Korea already having the ability to deliver an EMP strike are NOT from me. They are from someone who was asked to quantify the threat by the House of Representatives. He has served on every relevant commission investigating the threat of an EMP strike.

Not to put too fine a point on it but he is most especially not one of the chattering classes. Here is his bio

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is President of EMPACT America. He has served: on the Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States established by the U.S. Congress (2008-2009); as Director of the United States Nuclear Strategy Forum, an advisory body to Congress on policies to counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (2005-2009); on the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack (also commonly known as the EMP Commission), established by the U.S. Congress (2001-2008); as Professional Staff on the House Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Congress, with portfolios in nuclear strategy, WMD, Russia, China, NATO, the Middle East, intelligence, and terrorism (1995-2001); as an Intelligence Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency responsible for analyzing Soviet and Russian nuclear strategy and operational plans (1985-1995), where he was formally recognized by the agency for his expertise, groundbreaking research, and his outstanding accomplishments during his 10 years of service; and as a Verification Analyst at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency responsible for assessing Soviet compliance with nuclear and strategic forces arms control treaties (1984-1985).

Dr. Pry also played a key role: running hearings in Congress that warned about how terrorists and rogue states could pose an EMP threat, establishing the Congressional EMP Commission, helping the Commission develop plans to protect the United States from EMP, and working closely with senior scientists who first discovered the nuclear EMP phenomenon. Dr. Pry holds two Ph.D.s (in International Relations and U.S. History) and a certificate in nuclear weapons design from the USAF Weapons Laboratory. He has also written numerous books on national security issues.

Here is another portion of his take on this...he seems to understand the issue a bit better than most.

In fact, North Korea is a mortal nuclear threat to the United States— right now.

North Korea has already successfully tested and developed nuclear weapons. It has also already miniaturized nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery and has armed missiles with nuclear warheads. In 2011, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Ronald Burgess, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea has weaponized its nuclear devices into warheads for ballistic missiles.

North Korea has labored for years and starved its people so it could develop an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the United States. Why? Because they have a special kind of nuclear weapon that could destroy the United States with a single blow.

In summer 2004, a delegation of Russian generals warned the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Commission that secrets had leaked to North Korea for a decisive new nuclear weapon — a Super-EMP warhead.

Any nuclear weapon detonated above an altitude of 30 kilometers will generate an electromagnetic pulse that will destroy electronics and could collapse the electric power grid and other critical infrastructures — communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water — that sustain modern civilization and the lives of 300 million Americans. All could be destroyed by a single nuclear weapon making an EMP attack.

A Super-EMP attack on the United States would cause much more and much deeper damage than a primitive nuclear weapon, and so would increase confidence that the catastrophic consequences will be irreversible. Such an attack would inflict maximum damage and be optimum for realizing a world without America.

Both North Korean nuclear tests look suspiciously like a Super-EMP weapon. A Super-EMP warhead would have a low yield, like the North Korean device, because it is not designed to create a big explosion, but to convert its energy into gamma rays, that generate the EMP effect. Reportedly South Korean military intelligence concluded, independent of the EMP Commission, that Russian scientists are in North Korea helping develop a Super-EMP warhead. In 2012, a military commentator for the People’s Republic of China stated that North Korea has Super-EMP nuclear warheads.

A Super-EMP warhead would not weigh much, and could probably be delivered by North Korea’s ICBM. The missile does not have to be accurate, as the EMP field is so large that detonating anywhere over the United States would have catastrophic consequences. The warhead does not even need a re-entry vehicle, as an EMP attack entails detonating the warhead at high-altitude, above the atmosphere.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't think we really are disagreeing much, except over the throw weight of the Nork space booster. Nor do I consider him [or you for that matter] one of the chattering classes. It is a difference over one measurable yet not nailed down technical point. And if shown that the satellite orbited was at or over 350 lb. Or that the Norks/Iranians have reduced warhead size and weight to 200 lbs then we are in perfect agreement as to the immediacy of the threat. And I suspect as to the impotence of our government. Yeah, you can get a nuclear warhead down to about the size of a grapefruit, and weighing considerably less than 350 lbs ... if you have the design skills of a Ted Taylor and the fabrication infrastructure he had.

There is no evidence that the Norks have either, but we could be surprised at any moment.

I consider the Nork nuclear program to be now allied with the Iranian program. The presence of Iranian scientists, and that apparent change in emphasis from plutonium weapons to U-235 weapons [and the increased success thereby] which is what Iran's program is using will have a synergistic effect for both. Things can move rapidly. And not in a good direction.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you want to educate yourself about the threat of an EMP strike this document might be of some interest.

Some conclusions of this 2011 Army War College document.
1. There is very little in the way of back-up capability to the electric grid (upon
which the communications infrastructure is vitally dependent). Individual
homes rarely have an independent source of electric power, industry has
some continuity of operations (COOP) capability, and essential services
such as hospitals are required to have a few days of auxiliary power to
sustain them off of the power grid. The likely scenarios caused by solar
storms and EMP forecast a power grid loss for many times longer than
current backup power sources, maybe even a year or more if a significant
number of high power transformers are destroyed and would have to be remanufactured.
In some cases, such grid components are manufactured offshore
causing even more delay. The net effect of the collapse of the electric
grid is that communities would become localized and insular. They would
be disconnected from the more regional conditions, the possibility of
outside assistance such as food and medicine, and the chances of recovery
to normal. One group even explored that there might be no return to
normal as was previously known.
2. There is little in the way of preparation for the loss of the electric grid.
Although there actually is a significant amount of information in the form
of literature, websites, and planning from the local government to the
federal agency level, there has been little effort in the form of individual
preparation and rehearsal for such an event. This includes the stockpiling
of food and survival kits to include radios in Faraday protection boxes with
batteries and first aid supplies. Preparing for months without a commercial
source of clean water (city water pressure is often dependent on electric
pumping to storage towers) and stoppage of sewage treatment facilities
will require new methods of survival particularly in populated areas. This overarching condition permeated all break-out groups which called for
better communication to individual households, education, and even
practice days without electricity on a variety of scales. In a clear sense,
this workshop highlighted the interconnectedness of the three breakout
groups as a triad of interdependencies where initial response to grid loss
is dependent on preparation and recovery is dependent on both. The root
of all post-event activities is the adequacy of addressing the problem in
advance. The passage of H.R. 5026 would initiate the demonstration of
one hundred “grid independent” military installations, but it appears that
it would be a considerably longer time before a modicum of independence
and training would reach all corners of the nation.
3. Department of Defense response to electric grid infrastructure failure would
be measured and exercised based on the level of the threat to the sovereignty
of the nation. It is always the case that local governments (technically) are
in charge during a crisis and the DOD is always in support of civilian
authority. Whereas the DOD will provide support and assistance in the
restoration of infrastructure failures to the greatest extent possible, it too
has limitations in personnel and funding, and the possibility of regional
and national grid failure could push the DOD beyond its ability to assist
on a massive scale. What is clear, as emphasized by each break-out group, is
that the national defense responsibilities of the DOD will come first when
there is a question of allocating resources.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Such studies typically START with the assumption that this or that has been destroyed.

High powered transformers are fused and can absorb a tremendous amount of energy.

As spectacular as an atomic explosion is, EMP devices spew radiation in every direction. So the actual energy driven into the magnetosphere can only be a fraction of the yield.

Next, the activated electrons -- a low density plasma -- can only pump the grid with a fraction of their excitation energy.

Such induction is going to pop circuit breakers -- breakers that feature AUTOMATIC RECLOSERS. It is certainly true that the grid can be destabilized by such 'trips' -- Italy -- the whole dang country -- went black because of a critical trip on an inter-tie with France.

However, the grid was restored within days. Similar trip-outs have occurred in America and Japan. (Sendai tsunami)

I cannot credit Nork with more power than mother nature.

The telephone system has its own power supply system at the ready. Its weakness is natural catastrophe.

EMP is constantly trotted out as a doomsday weapon. Yet at the height of the Cold War/ WWIII neither America nor the USSR ever figured that an EMP gambit was worth a dang.

It merely induces self destruction without really dealing a serious blow.

The blow back from the targeted power is too horrific to contemplate. It would function as Pearl Harbor on steroids.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Did you read the Army War College Documents?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They're exactly what I expected.

The assumption that EMP has crippled the nation is made from the outset.

They posit no physics whatsoever.

One might reasonably assume that any such calculations are classified, anyway.

My argument is that EMP is entirely impractical as a weapon. It's collateral damage in a major exchange -- other wise its attempt triggers a major exchange.

The ORIGINAL Johnston Island event, circa 1962 IIRC, blew fuses all over Hawaii. Todays Hawaii does not use Edison fuses, with rare exception. Instead, circuit breakers would trip.

The ones most of interest, distribution conductors, are protected by circuit breakers that have 'automatic reclosers.'

The effect of these can be seen in Youtube clips of Sandy taking out the high power distribution circuits in Manhattan. First comes the trip -- and a huge arc explosion. Then, on a timed basis, the recloser attempts to reset the circuit -- without human intervention. Only three attempts are made. Upon the third trip the automatic recloser drops open -- awaiting human intervention.

I'll bet dollars to donuts that not one of the worthies cited in the pdf knows what an automatic recloser is. It's a device that is of interest only to outside linemen and power companies. It would not even come up in most technical discussions.

The assumption is that either you know about them -- you're in the field -- or they're too common and incidental to bring up in such an august discussion.

Rather than EMP -- the REAL risk is cyber warfare.

The nation's power companies have gaping holes in their digital web to scare the wits of any man.

In which case, there'll be no prior warning of enemy capability whatsoever.

Now isn't that charming.

You're worrying about the second story window -- and the back door is open.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And your assumption is they don't know what they are talking about in regards to damage from an EMP. Perhaps they assume catastrophic damage because they have simulated the EMP strikes and know what happens?

A Jointly-Commissioned Summary Report of the
North American Electric Reliability Corporation
and the U.S. Department of Energy’s November
2009 Workshop

Highlights: Geomagnetic Disturbances, High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse Events, and Intentional Electromagnetic Interference Threats Geomagnetic disturbances, the earthly effects of solar weather, are not a new threat to the electric sector. Recent analysis by Metatech and Storm Analysis Consultants51, 52, 53, 54 suggests, however, that the potential extremes of the geomagnetic threat environment may be much greater than previously anticipated. Geomagnetically-induced currents on system infrastructure have the potential to result in widespread tripping of key transmission lines and irreversible physical damage to large transformers.51, 52, 53, 54 The 1989 event that caused a blackout of the Hydro Québec system provided important lessons to the sector. Since that time, the sector has adopted operational procedures to reduce the vulnerability to geomagnetic storms and has installed certain protections in areas most prone to impact as recommended by Oak Ridge National Labs in their report on the March 1989 event.7 More work is needed, however, to consider the potential impacts larger storms may have and develop viable, cost-effective mitigations, potentially at lower geographic latitudes than previously thought necessary. The high-altitude detonation of a large nuclear device or other electromagnetic weapon could have devastating effects on the electric sector, interrupting system operation and potentially damaging many devices simultaneously. A coordinated attack involving intentional electromagnetic interference (IEMI) could result in more localized and targeted impacts that may also cause significant impacts to the sector.

The physical damage of certain system components (e.g. extra-high-voltage transformers) on a large scale, as could be effected by any of these threats, could result in prolonged outages as
procurement cycles for these components range from months to years. Many of these components are manufactured overseas, with little manufacturing capability remaining in North America. The impacts of these events on the power system are not yet fully understood across the sector and warrant further collaborative work to identify the prioritized “top ten” mitigation steps that are both cost-effective and sufficient to protect the power system from the widespread catastrophic damage that could result from any of these events.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well you and the Army War college can work out your differences. Apparently they feel differently.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Thank you for the link. I hadn't seen this. Very interesting.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All of our enemies understand our weakness in regards to an EMP. To imagine that they are NOT going to exploit that weakness is to ignore common sense.

North Korea has been the most explicit in regards to pursuing that tactic.

North Korea now has an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the United States, as demonstrated by their successful launch and orbiting of a satellite on Dec. 12. Certain poorly informed pundits among the chattering classes reassure us that North Korea is still years away from being able to miniaturize warheads for missile delivery, and from developing sufficiently accurate missiles to pose a serious nuclear threat to the United States. Philip Yun, director of San Francisco’s Ploughshares Fund, a nuclear disarmament group, reportedly said, “The real threat from the launch was an overreaction that would lead to more defense spending on unnecessary systems. The sky is not falling. We shouldn’t be panicked.”

In fact, North Korea is a mortal nuclear threat to the United States— right now.

North Korea has already successfully tested and developed nuclear weapons. It has also already miniaturized nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery and has armed missiles with nuclear warheads. In 2011, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Ronald Burgess, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea has weaponized its nuclear devices into warheads for ballistic missiles.

North Korea has labored for years and starved its people so it could develop an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the United States. Why? Because they have a special kind of nuclear weapon that could destroy the United States with a single blow.

In summer 2004, a delegation of Russian generals warned the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Commission that secrets had leaked to North Korea for a decisive new nuclear weapon — a Super-EMP warhead.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
""""" North Korea now has an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the United States """"""

No it doesn't.

N. Korea has a rocket capable of reaching the U.S. because it was also able to orbit a small satellite. They can't yet deliver nukes by rocket yet, even for a short range.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
AND, I am not of the "chattering class." I'm simply someone with a basic understanding of 1) ballistic re-entry and missile weaponizing challenges, and 2) of how long it takes to reach a state where missile nuke delivery systems are operational and reliable. N. Korea isn't there yet.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Another thought: that Kim is being cornered into a 'face' losing endgame.

Nork doesn't have escalation dominance.

Even Red China comes up way short.

Right now, Kim ought to be looking for some internal fall guys -- because it's going to be brutal to his prestige for him to walk back from his agitprop.

As Kim is swept away, the dynasty ends.

That may prove to be a blessing all the way around.

Remember, even Beria wanted to downsize the Red Army -- once Uncle Joe was embalmed.

I would not be surprised at all to find out that their is a PLA oriented faction within the Nork Army that wants to follow the Deng solution.

Yet Kim is still bound to songun and juche.

We may be looking at a blessing -- and unable to spot it -- everything turns on Oriental 'prestige'/ face logic.

For the Poltroon in Chief, such mental gymnastics are all too much.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What if Kim is a tag-team operator whose function is to abet Iran and Assad?

That this rumpus is entirely designed to shift USN assets out of the 5th Fleet?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's not forget that there are a lot of other "situations" in today's unstable world. A conflagration in Korea would provide a great opportunity for a Syrian regime that needs to use massive force against the rebels; Kurds who want out of Iraq ... and Turkey; Argentines who want English colonialists removed from the Malvinas; Catalans & Basques who want out of Spain; a Russia that wants its empire back; Chinese would-be warlords in the provinces who are tired of their subservience to the political clique in Bejing; and on & on.

North Korea could be the spark for entirely unrelated conflicts. Especially since everyone knows that Soetero cares only for golf & campaigning, and the rest of "leadership" in the Western world is not much better.

To agree with earlier commenters -- yes, PJM's new comments system still sucks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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