North Korea: Electromagnetic pulse is latest threat against US

North Korea: Electromagnetic pulse is latest threat against US, by Peter Landers.

North Korea’s threats against the US now include a tactic long discussed by some experts: an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, triggered by a nuclear weapon that would aim to shut down the US electricity grid. …

The idea of an EMP attack is to detonate a nuclear weapon tens or hundreds of miles above the earth with the aim of knocking out power in much of the US. Unlike the US atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, such a weapon wouldn’t directly destroy buildings or kill people. Instead, electromagnetic waves from the nuclear explosion would generate pulses to overwhelm the electric grid and electronic devices in the same way a lightning surge can destroy equipment.

In a worst-case scenario, the outages could last for months, indirectly costing many lives, since hospitals would be without power, emergency services couldn’t function normally, and people could run short of food and water. …

When the US tested a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific in 1962, it resulted in lights burning out in Honolulu, nearly 1,000 miles from the test site.