Rather than firing a bomb directly at an American city, the dictatorship could detonate a bomb high in the atmosphere, unleash a pulse of radio waves which could destroy electronics across America.
The warning comes just as Pyongyang upped the rhetoric once again, saying nuclear war might break out at any moment.
Dr William Graham and Dr Peter Vincent Pry from the EMP Commission describe the attack in a new paper titled ‘North Korea Nuclear EMP Attack: An Existential Threat.’
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They say that the bomb would be detonated around 18 miles up, or possibly even higher, with the goal of ‘frying’ the electric power grid.
The researchers write, ‘The result could be to shut down the US electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 per cent of all Americans.’
The researchers write, ‘With the development of small nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles by new, radical US adversaries, beginning with North Korea, the threat of a nuclear EMP attack against the US becomes one of the few ways that such a country could inflict devastating damage to the United States.’
The research comes at a heightened point of tension between the two countries.
Although Donald Trump has recently said that diplomacy will not work with ‘Rocket Man Kim’, on Tuesday the U.S. said it is not ruling out the eventual possibility of direct talks with the hermit state.
Talks between the adversaries have long been urged by China in particular, but Washington and its ally Japan have been reluctant to sit down at the table while Pyongyang continues to pursue a goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.
“Eventually, we don’t rule out the possibility of course of direct talks,” Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said in Tokyo, hours after Pyongyang warned nuclear war might break out at any moment.
“Our focus is on diplomacy to solve this problem that is presented by the DPRK. We must, however, with our allies, Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst, should diplomacy fail,” he said.
Tension has soared following a series of weapons tests by North Korea and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between Trump and Kim.
Leaflets apparently from North Korea calling Trump a “mad dog” and depicting gruesome images of him have turned up across central Seoul, adding an unusually personal element to North Korean propaganda.