Tag Archives: North Korea

Past U.S. Policy Failures Led to North Korean Crisis

The reality that the entire U.S. mainland, and indeed, much of the world, is now in range of North Korea’s nuclear capability is a sobering one, particularly when combined with the fact that even North Korea’s limited atomic arsenal is fully capable of destroying the entire USA through an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

Over the past several decades, the U.S. “gave peace a chance.”  President Bill Clinton tried buying off North Korea with aid.  President Bush largely ignored the crisis as he concentrated  on the Middle East. President Obama reduced the size of the U.S. military. All of those approaches failed.

China has the capability of completely turning off the North Korean economy.  Despite verbally opposing Pyongyang’s atomic program, it has taken no effective steps to do so.  Russia has seen the entire situation as yet another opportunity to take advantage of America.  Both have urged the U.S. to essentially abandon South Korea in return for a denuclearized North Korea, which would be a major victory for China and Russia and the beginning of the end of democracies in the Pacific region and Asia.

Kim Jong Un has observed that, over the past 8 years, the U.S. was kinder to its enemies than its friends.  The entire Obama Mideast policy tilted in favor of Iran, despite that nation’s constant devotion to the policy of “Death to the USA.”  Meanwhile, Obama assisted in the destruction of Muammar Gaddafi, who had given up his nuclear program and turned away from terrorism.  The same thing occurred in Egypt, which under Mubarak had favored peace in the region and a rejection of terrorism.  Obama urged his ouster, and favored his replacement with a Moslem Brotherhood advocate.

From his perspective, Kim’s actions are wholly rational.  He is doing what he has observed led to the enrichment and survival of regimes such as those in Iran, and avoiding the policies of those governments such as that of Libya, which acceded to U.S. demands and were subsequently wiped out. Add to that the fact that, despite the horrors of his regime, he now has China and Russia openly advocating the U.S. abandon its South Korean ally in return for North Korea’s pledge to eliminate its nuclear arsenal, a pledge North Korea has repeatedly violated, and one can easily discern the logic of what Kim is doing.

After all the years of equivocation by Washington, Kim does not believe the U.S. will take any action, so he feels free to engage in whatever provocation he wishes, assured that he can only gain by aggression, and lose by compromise.

Kim also knows that the state of American politics is such that President Trump will be portrayed by leftist within the U.S. as a warmonger if he takes any military steps against North Korea. Kim is also fully aware that the American military is at its lowest level of strength in many years, a result of the disinvestment that occurred as a result of both Obama’s policies and the sequester.

There are steps short of military action available to Washington.  An attempt must be made to induce China to act more responsibly by beginning to limit the importation of Chinese goods to the U.S. and allied nations. America’s commitment to its Asian and Pacific allies, and the permanence of that commitment, must be made clear through the enhanced placement of military assets in the region.  The U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield should be dramatically strengthened. U.S. powerplants should be hardened against an EMP attack. And, of course, the disinvestment in America’s armed forces must be reversed, even more so than the recent defense budget provides.

It is far too easy to portray the North Korean regime as being irrational.  Each action it has taken has had a proven track record of success—all of it leading to the current and very real crisis and threat of nuclear attack.  Until the United States clearly demonstrates to Kim and his allies in Beijing and Moscow that there will be dire consequences, the world will move ever closer to nuclear war.

America faces Imminent, Major Threat from an EMP Attack, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its presentation of key excerpts from the explosive testimony to Congress about the imminent threat of an EMP attack on the United States by Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff,  of the Commission to Assess the Threat to America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

In the event of a nuclear EMP attack on the United States, a widespread protracted blackout is inevitable.

Even if North Korea has only primitive, low-yield nuclear weapons, and likewise if other states or terrorists acquire one or a few such weapons, and the capability to detonate them at 30 kilometers or higher-altitude over the United States, as the EMP Commission warned over a decade ago in its 2004 Report: “The damage level could be sufficient to be catastrophic to the Nation, and our current vulnerability invites attack.”

What Is To Be Done?

We recommend establishing an Executive Agent – a Cabinet Secretary designated by the President – with the authority, accountability, and resources, to manage U.S. national infrastructure protection and defense against EMP and the other existential threats described above. Current institutional authorities and responsibilities–government, industry, regulatory agencies—are fragmented, incomplete, and unable to protect and defend against foreign hostile EMP threats or solar super-storms.

We encourage the President to work with Congressional leaders to stand-up an ad hoc Joint Presidential-Congressional Commission, with its members charged with supporting the Nation’s leadership and providing expertise, experience, and oversight to achieve, on an accelerated basis, the protection of critical national infrastructures. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) have for nearly a decade been unable or unwilling to implement the EMP Commission’s recommendations. A Presidential-Congressional Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection could engage the Free World’s preeminent experts on EMP and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare to serve the entire Government in a manner akin to the Atomic Energy Commission of the 1947-74 period, advising the Administration’s actions to attain most quickly and most cost-effectively the protection essential to long-term national survival and wellbeing. The United States should not remain in our current state of fatal vulnerability to well-known natural and man-made threats.

We highly commend President Trump’s new Executive Order “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure” signed on May 11, 2017. We strongly recommend that implementation of cybersecurity for the electric grid and other critical infrastructures include EMP protection, since all-out cyber warfare as planned by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran includes nuclear EMP attack. However, current institutional arrangements for protecting and improving the reliability of the electric grids and other critical infrastructures through the U.S. FERC and the NERC are not designed to address major national security threats to the electric power grids and other national critical infrastructures. Using FERC and NERC to achieve this level of national security is beyond the purpose for which those organizations were created and has proven to be fundamentally unworkable. New institutional arrangements are needed to advance preparedness to survive EMP and related threats to our critical national infrastructures.

We recommend that U.S. military forces and critical national infrastructures be protected from EMP as outlined in the EMP Commission’s classified reports and unclassified reports provided in 2004 and 2008. EMP protection of military systems and civilian/military critical national infrastructures can be achieved cost-effectively by a combination of operational procedures and physical hardening. It is not necessary to harden everything. Selective hardening of key critical nodes and equipment will suffice. Threat parameters are 200 kilovolts/meter for E1 EMP and 85 volts/kilometer for E3 EMP. Critical national infrastructures are already adequately protected from E2 EMP, equivalent to lightning.

We recommend, given the proximity and enormity of the threat from EMP and CombinedArms Cyber Warfare, the President exercise leadership to implement immediate, midterm, and long-term steps to deter and defeat this existential threat:


We recommend that the President declare that EMP or cyber-attacks that blackout or threaten to blackout the national electric grid constitute the use of weapons of mass destruction that justify preemptive and retaliatory responses by the United States using all possible means, including nuclear weapons. Some potential adversaries have the capability to produce a protracted nationwide blackout induced by EMP or Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare by the use of nuclear or non-nuclear means. A Defense Science Board study Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat (January 2013) equates an all-out cyber-attack on the United States with the consequences of a nuclear attack, and concludes that a nuclear response is justified to deter or retaliate for cyber warfare that threatens the life of the nation: “While the manifestation of a nuclear and cyber-attack are very different, in the end, the existential impact to the United States is the same.”

We recommend that the President issue an Executive Order, provided to the previous White House, titled “Protecting the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)”. Among many other provisions to protect the nation from EMP on an emergency basis, the Executive Order would instantly mobilize a much needed “whole of government solution” to the EMP and combined-arms cyber threat: “All U.S. Government Departments, Agencies, Offices, Councils, Boards, Commissions and other U.S. Government entities…shall take full and complete account of the EMP threat in forming policies and plans to protect United States critical infrastructures…” Protecting the electric grids and other critical infrastructures from the worst threat—nuclear EMP attack—can, if carried out in a system-wide, integrated approach, help mitigate all lesser threats, including natural EMP, man-made non-nuclear EMP, cyberattack, physical sabotage, and severe terrestrial weather.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to include a Limited Nuclear Option for EMP attack among the U.S. nuclear strike plans, and immediately make targeting and fusing adjustments to some of the nuclear forces needed to implement a nuclear EMP attack capability.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to use national technical means to ascertain if there is a nuclear weapon aboard North Korea’s KMS-3 or KMS-4 satellites that orbit over the United States. If either or both of these satellites are nucleararmed, they should be intercepted and destroyed over a broad ocean area where an EMP resulting from salvage-fusing will do the least damage to humanity.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to post Aegis ships in the Gulf of Mexico and near the east and west coasts, to search for and be prepared to intercept missiles launched from freighters, submarines, or other platforms that might make a nuclear EMP attack on the United States. U.S. National Missile Defenses (NMD) are primarily located in Alaska and California and oriented for a missile attack coming at the U.S. from the north, and are not deployed to intercept a short-warning missile attack launched near the U.S. coasts.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to harden the FirstNet emergency communications system against EMP.

We recommend that the President initiate training, evaluating, and “Red Teaming” efforts to protect the U.S. and in the event of an EMP attack to respond, and periodically report the results of these efforts to the Congress.


We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to deploy Aegis-ashore missile interceptors along the Gulf of Mexico coast to plug the hole in U.S. missile defenses. The U.S. has no Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radars or missile interceptors facing south, and is largely blind and defenseless from that direction, including to missiles launched from submarines or off ships, or from a nuclear-armed satellite orbiting on a south polar trajectory.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to develop a spacesurveillance program to detect if any satellites orbited over the United States are nucleararmed, and develop space-interception capabilities to defend against nuclear-armed satellites that might make an EMP attack.

We recommend that the President direct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to launch a crash program to harden the over 100 nuclear power reactors and their spent fuel storage facilities against nuclear EMP attack. Nuclear power reactors typically only have enough emergency power to cool reactor cores and spent fuel rods for a few days, after which they would “go Fukushima” spreading radioactivity over much of the United States.


We recommend that the President through his Executive Agent protect elements of the national electric grids, the keystone critical infrastructure upon which all other critical infrastructures depend. Priority should be given to elements that are difficult and timeconsuming to replace. Such elements can be protected from EMP at very low cost relative to the costs of an EMP catastrophe, and paid for without federal dollars by a slight increase in user electric rates. We recommend that a similar approach be taken to key elements of the national telecommunications infrastructure and other national critical infrastructures.

We recommend the development and deployment of enhanced-EMP nuclear weapons and other means to deter adversary attack on the United States. Enhanced-EMP nuclear weapons, called by the Russians Super-EMP weapons, can be developed without nuclear testing.

We recommend strengthening U.S. ballistic missile defenses—including deployment of space-based defenses considered by the Strategic Defense Initiative— and that these be designed and postured to also protect the U.S. from EMP attack.

America faces Imminent, Major Threat from an EMP Attack Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its presentation of key excerpts from the explosive testimony to Congress about the imminent threat of an EMP attack on the United States by Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff,  of the Commission to Assess the Threat to America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

EMP Threat From Satellites

While most analysts are fixated on when in the future North Korea will develop highly reliable intercontinental missiles, guidance systems, and reentry vehicles capable of striking a U.S. city, the threat here and now from EMP is largely ignored. EMP attack does not require an accurate guidance system because the area of effect, having a radius of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, is so large. No reentry vehicle is needed because the warhead is detonated at high altitude, above the atmosphere. Missile reliability matters little because only one missile has to work to make an EMP attack against an entire nation. North Korea could make an EMP attack against the United States by launching a short-range missile off a freighter or submarine or by lofting a warhead to 30 kilometers burst height by balloon. While such lower-altitude EMP attacks would not cover the whole U.S. mainland, as would an attack at higher-altitude (300 kilometers), even a balloon-lofted warhead detonated at 30 kilometers altitude could blackout the Eastern Electric Power Grid that supports most of the population and generates 75 percent of U.S. electricity. Or an EMP attack might be made by a North Korean satellite, right now.

A Super-EMP weapon could be relatively small and lightweight, and could fit inside North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 (KMS-3) and Kwangmyongsong-4 (KMS-4) satellites. These two satellites presently orbit over the United States, and over every other nation on Earth– demonstrating, or posing, a potential EMP threat against the entire world.

North Korea’s KMS-3 and KMS-4 satellites were launched to the south on polar trajectories and passed over the United States on their first orbit. Pyongyang launched KMS-4 on February 7, 2017, shortly after its fourth illegal nuclear test on January 6, that began the present protracted nuclear crisis with North Korea.

The south polar trajectory of KMS-3 and KMS-4 evades U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radars and National Missile Defenses, resembling a Russian secret weapon developed during the Cold War, called the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) that would have used a nuclear-armed satellite to make a surprise EMP attack on the United States.

Ambassador Henry Cooper, former Director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, and a preeminent expert on missile defenses and space weapons, has written numerous articles warning about the potential North Korean EMP threat from their satellites. For example, on September 20, 2016 Ambassador Cooper wrote: U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) interceptors are designed to intercept a few North Korean ICBMs that approach the United States over the North Polar region. But current U.S. BMD systems are not arranged to defend against even a single ICBM that approaches the United States from over the South Polar region, which is the direction toward which North Korea launches its satellites…This is not a new idea. The Soviets pioneered and tested just such a specific capability decades ago—we call it a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS)…So, North Korea doesn’t need an ICBM to create this existential threat. It could use its demonstrated satellite launcher to carry a nuclear weapon over the South Polar region and detonate it…over the United States to create a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP)…The result 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—as the EMP Commission testified over eight years ago.

Former NASA rocket scientist James Oberg visited North Korea’s Sohae space launch base, witnessed elaborate measures undertaken to conceal space launch payloads, and concludes in a 2017 article that the EMP threat from North Korea’s satellites should be taken seriously: …there have been fears expressed that North Korea might use a satellite to carry a small nuclear warhead into orbit and then detonate it over the United States for an EMP strike. These concerns seem extreme and require an astronomical scale of irrationality on the part of the regime. The most frightening aspect, I’ve come to realize, is that exactly such a scale of insanity is now evident in the rest of their ‘space program.” That doomsday scenario, it now seems, has been plausible enough to compel the United States to take active measures to insure that no North Korean satellite, unless thoroughly inspected before launch, be allowed to reach orbit and ever overfly the United States.

The Report Concludes Tomorrow.

America Faces Imminent, Major Threat from an EMP Attack

The most significant existential threat to the United States comes from a potential EMP assault.  In extraordinary testimony  delivered this month to the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, and  Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff,  of the Commission to Assess the Threat to America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) revealed explosive details, including decades of neglect of the menace, how Russia transferred EMP technology to North Korea, and how North Korea already has the capacity to wreck devastation across the United States. The New York Analysis of Policy and Government has reviewed the information and provides key excerpts.  

On September 30, 2017, the Department of Defense, after withholding a significant part of the monies allocated by Congress to support the work of the EMP Commission for the entirety of 2016, terminated funding the EMP Commission. In the same month, North Korea detonated an H-Bomb that it plausibly describes as capable of “super-powerful EMP” attack and released a technical report “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing what Russia and China call a “Super-EMP” weapon.

Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Homeland Security has asked Congress to continue the EMP Commission. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would replace the existing EMP Commission with new Commissioners. Yet the existing EMP Commission comprises the nation’s foremost experts who have been officially or unofficially continuously engaged trying to advance national EMP preparedness for 17 years. And today, as the EMP Commission has long warned, the nation faces a potentially imminent and existential threat of nuclear EMP attack from North Korea.

Recent events have proven the EMP Commission’s critics wrong about other highly important aspects of the nuclear missile threat from North Korea: –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 HBomb. 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 ABomb 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. North Korea confirmed the EMP Commission’s assessment by testing an H-Bomb that could make a devastating EMP attack, and in its official public statement: “The H-Bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons, is a multi-functional thermonuclear weapon with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack according to strategic goals.”

Just six months ago, some academics dismissed EMP Commission warnings and even, literally, laughed on National Public Radio at the idea North Korea could make an EMP attack.

Primitive and “Super-EMP” Nuclear Weapons are Both EMP Threats The EMP Commission finds that even primitive, low-yield nuclear weapons are such a significant EMP threat that rogue states, like North Korea, or terrorists may well prefer using a nuclear weapon for EMP attack, instead of destroying a city: “Therefore, terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or military base, they may obtain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them—or threatening their use—in an EMP attack.

In 2004, two Russian generals, both EMP experts, warned the EMP Commission that the design for Russia’s Super-EMP warhead, capable of generating high intensity EMP fields over 100,000 volts per meter, was “accidentally” transferred to North Korea. They also said that due to “brain drain,” Russian scientists were in North Korea, as were Chinese and Pakistani scientists according to the Russians, helping with the North’s missile and nuclear weapon programs. In 2009, South Korean military intelligence told their press that Russian scientists are in North Korea helping develop an EMP nuclear weapon. In 2013, a Chinese military commentator stated North Korea has Super-EMP nuclear weapons.

The Report Continues Tomorrow.

Blunt Talk about the North Korean Threat

The North Korean detonation of a hydrogen bomb, and the claim that it can mount such a device atop an ICBM, has appropriately resulted in a deeply worried reaction within the United States. Much of the general analysis has missed several key factors, however.

As viscerally satisfying as it is to discuss a pre-emptive strike or other direct military action in response, the reality is that both Russia and China have delivered not-so-subtle messages that they will assist Pyonyang in any armed confrontation. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Washington needs to clearly and openly understand that Kim Jong-un couldn’t have achieved this level of  conventional, nuclear and missile proficiency without outside help, both technological and, particularly, economic.  North Korea’s vast conventional, as well as its atomic, prowess directly helps both Moscow and Beijing in their long-range goals of the expansion of their power throughout the globe.

The key questions is, Should Washington risk what will essentially be a world war at this time? To answer that, another question must be asked: Does the Pentagon have the ability to prevail in such a conflict?

 In 2012, the Obama Administration abandoned the long-held policy of having a U.S. military equipped to fight a two-front war.  Inexplicably, this was done at the same time that it was becoming increasingly evident that the alliance of China and Russia, as well as the cooperation in missile and nuclear technology betweenthose two and Iran and North Korea, was becoming increasingly evident.  Other than as an excuse to transfer defense dollars to more politically popular domestic programs, there has never been an adequate explanation of the reasoning behind the Obama Administration’s controversial decision. This has become a larger issue as the threats from North Korea become more credible, dangerous and frequent.  It would be naïve to believe that if it were necessary to deploy additional American forces, for example, on the Korean peninsula, that Iran would not take advantage of U.S. weakness in the Middle East, or that Russia would not expand its aggression against Ukraine.

Heritage study found “that the U.S. needs a military that is large enough and has a sufficient range of capabilities to cover multiple major military contingencies in overlapping time frames… Such a capability is the sine qua non of a superpower and is essential to the credibility of our overall national security strategy.” However, as previously reported by the New York Times  and Atlantic monthly  “The U.S. military of the future will no longer be able to fight two sustained ground wars at the same time.”  That future may be now.

Direct threat to the United States

Some have attempted to downplay the threat to the U.S. based on the imbalance between U.S. and North Korean forces. However, it is now undeniably evident that almost the entire span of continental U.S. could be crippled by an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack from a single nuclear weapon detonated at a specific altitude.  An EMP attack would breakdown America’s electrical grid, disable almost all transportation facilities (including cars, trucks, trains and planes) and medical centers.  The inability to deliver food, water, energy and essential services, it is estimated, would result in the deaths of up to 80% of the American population within less than a year.

On September 3, Peter Landers, writing in the Wall Street Journal stated that “North Korea’s threats against the U.S. 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 U.S. electricity grid. North Korea’s state news agency made a rare reference to the tactic in a Sunday morning release in which the country said it was able to load a hydrogen bomb onto a long-range missile. The bomb, North Korea said, “is a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack.”

In a 2015 letter to the Obama Administration, the EMP Task Force warned:

“The consequent failure of critical infrastructure that sustain our lives is a major national security threat and would be catastrophic to our people and our nation…“Russia and China have substantially hardened their electric grids. Other nations are beginning to harden theirs. But the United States has done little or nothing to counter this threat…Russia and China have already developed nuclear EMP weapons and many believe others possess EMP weapons including North Korea and soon Iran-and likely their terrorist surrogates. For example, they could launch nuclear-armed short or medium range missiles from near our coasts, possibly hiding the actual sponsor from retaliation. North Korea and Iran have tested their missiles in ways that can execute EMP attacks from ships or from satellites that approach the U.S. from the couth where our ballistic missile warning systems are minimal…”

While the military problems, caused by decades of an ineffective policy based on the appeasement of North Korea concerning nuclear weapons that began with the Clinton Administration and the disinvestment in the U.S. military during the Obama Administration has left Washington in a weakened condition, there are options, as well as steps that must be taken.


First, China and Russia must pay an enormous and unprecedented economic price for their role in Pyongyang’s, and, for that matter, Iran’s– nuclear program.  It is time to seriously consider—as stunning as it sounds—a program that lays out a clear timeline of severing economic ties between those two aggressor nations and the United States if Moscow and Beijing fail to rein in their client state.

Second, it is time to realize how precarious a situation the Obama disinvestment in defense has produced, and to be fair, the GOP failure to respond to that move. American industry must be placed on an emergency footing to make up for lost time.  Some of the expense of that costly endeavor–which must also include the development of an effective anti missile shield– will be made up for in the reinvigoration of the American manufacturing sector. Key allied nations, such as those in NATO, as well as Australia and Japan, must do their share, as well.

North Korea’s Credible Threat to Destroy U.S., Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of the EMP threat from North Korea. 

A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency report, which concentrated on cyber attacks but could also apply to EMP, has noted that America’s electrical grid and associated control systems are vulnerable to various forms of attack.  Since the late 1990’s…cost pressures have driven the integration of conventional information technologies into these independent industrial control systems, resulting in a grid that is increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attack, either through direct connection to the Internet or via direct interfaces to utility IT systems…”

A Daily Mail article  warns that “North Korea could be preparing an EMP strike on the US with two satellites already orbiting above America [with] two…earth observation satellites, launched in 2012 and 2016Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security in America, warned that North Korea is positioning its satellites in a ‘nuclear missile age, cyberage version’ of battleship diplomacy ‘so that they can always have one of them (satellites) very close to being over the United States or over the United States’. Pry, also chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission, told Breitbart‘s Aaron Klein: ‘Then if a crisis comes up and if we decide to attack North Korea, Kim Jong Un can threaten our president and say, ‘Well, don’t do that because we are going to burn your whole country down.’ Which is basically what he said.

The Pew Trust notes that “Congress has commissioned reports and held hearings over the years on bills focused on protecting the grid from such catastrophic disturbances, but it hasn’t taken any action. So a number of state legislators have decided to file their own grid-related measures, and in some cases, the legislation has been adopted. ‘This is an area in which we are extremely vulnerable. It’s a real problem. What if the power doesn’t come back on?’ said Virginia Republican state Sen. Bryce Reeves, who sponsored a measure that passed last year mandating a legislative commission to study the issue and come up with ways to protect against such threats.”

While there have been numerous warnings and concerns, very little action has actually been taken. A General Accounting Office  study notes: “Since 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have taken actions such as establishing industry standards and federal guidelines, and completing EMP-related research reports. GAO found that their actions aligned with some of the EMP Commission recommendations related to the electric grid. For example, DHS developed EMP protection guidelines to help federal agencies and industry identify options for safeguarding critical communication equipment and control systems from an EMP attack. Further, agency actions and EMP Commission recommendations generally align with DHS and DOE critical infrastructure responsibilities, such as assessing risks and identifying key assets…

“DHS has not identified internal roles and responsibilities for addressing electromagnetic risks, which has led to limited awareness of related activities within the department and reduced opportunity for coordination with external partners…Within DHS, there is recognition that space weather and power grid failure are significant risk events, which DHS officials have determined pose great risk to the security of the nation. Better collection of risk inputs, including additional leveraging of information available from stakeholders, could help to further inform DHS assessment of these risks. DHS and DOE also did not report taking any actions to identify critical electrical infrastructure assets, as called for in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan. Although FERC conducted a related effort in 2013, DHS and DOE were not involved and have unique knowledge and expertise that could be utilized to better ensure that key assets are adequately identified and all applicable elements of criticality are considered. Finally, DHS and DOE, in conjunction with industry, have not established a coordinated approach to identifying and implementing key risk management activities to address EMP risks.”

Recognition of the long-standing lack of action resulted in an Executive Order issued by President Trump four days after his inauguration, which provides an expedited process for “crucial infrastructure projects.”  The Order specifically notes: “it is the policy of the executive branch to streamline and expedite, in a manner consistent with law, environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, especially projects that are a high priority for the Nation, such as improving the U.S. electric grid…”

North Korea’s Credible Threat to Destroy U.S.

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government examines North Korea’s claim that it could devastate the U.S. 

There may be substance behind North Korea’s boast that it could devastate the United States.

Some of Pyongyang’s claims are obviously exaggerated.  Kim’s statement that he has “an invincible army” is not credible, although he does have sufficient artillery to devastate a good portion of adjacent South Korea.

However, its nuclear prowess is a true force to be reckoned with.  North Korea potentially has, or will soon have, nuclear-weapons mounted submarine launched missiles, as well as mobile land launchers.  This makes it doubtful that a preemptive strike against the rogue nation could be completely successful. Unfortunately,  even just one atomic detonation at the right position could cause massive damage to America, in the form of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) wave.

Secure the Grid  defines EMP as “An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a super-energetic radio wave that can destroy, damage, or cause the malfunction of electronic systems by overloading their circuits. Harmless to people but catastrophic to our critical infrastructure critical infrastructures–electric power, telecommunications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water–that sustain modern civilization and the lives of 310 million Americans. Given the current state of U.S. unpreparedness for an EMP event, it is estimated that within 12 months of an EMP event, two-thirds to 90 percent of the U.S. population would likely perish from starvation, disease, and societal breakdown.”

It’s not just defense officials who have expressed concern. The National Governors’ Association  states that “The electrical power grid is the backbone of the U.S. economy and society, with most goods and services depending on its safe, secure and reliable operation. Increasingly, natural and human-made hazards pose risks to the grid, some of which could lead to lasting and widespread outages. Although improbable, such disruptions would have a substantial effect and result in the failure of other critical infrastructure sectors such as water, transportation, financial services and communications; endanger the health and well-being of the public; and lead to considerable economic losses.”

Similarly, the National Conference of State Legislatures  reports that “ At least 15 bills were introduced in 2015 that address the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks, and at least five bills exempt critical information about the grid and public utilities from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.”

Some experts believe that North Korea is on the verge of having the missile capability of striking the American mainland. Many are convinced that it can already target Hawaii.

Interestingly, Hawaii has already accidentally endured a limited EMP effect, from a nuclear detonation 850 miles away. A Fox News article describes what occurred: “On July 9, 1962, Hawaii was hit by a massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, which within minutes took down the state’s communications systems and traffic lights —  virtually everything that ran on electricity. Th …U.S. government had set off a 1.4-megaton nuclear warhead at a height of 248 miles above Johnston Atoll…The test caused radio disruptions in Hawaii, California, and Alaska, and knocked out six satellites above the Pacific…This is not theoretical. It has already happened,”

The U.S. EMP Commission  notes: “Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated EMP. A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication. EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of US society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power. The common element that can produce such an impact from EMP is primarily electronics, so pervasive in all aspects of our society and military, coupled through critical infrastructures. Our vulnerability is increasing daily as our use of and dependence on electronics continues to grow. The impact of EMP is asymmetric in relation to potential protagonists who are not as dependent on modern electronics. The current vulnerability of our critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected. Correction is feasible and well within the Nation’s means and resources to accomplish.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

Dangers, Stakes of North Korean Confrontation, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of the dangers and stakes in responding to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. 

In April, The Arms Control Association noted that:

“For years, the United States and the international community have tried to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and its export of ballistic missile technology. Those efforts have been replete with periods of crisis, stalemate, and tentative progress towards denuclearization, and North Korea has long been a key challenge for the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

“The United States has pursued a variety of policy responses to the proliferation challenges posed by North Korea, including military cooperation with U.S. allies in the region, wide-ranging sanctions, and non-proliferation mechanisms such as export controls. The United States also engaged in two major diplomatic initiatives in which North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons efforts in return for aid.

“In 1994, faced with North Korea’s announced intent to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires non-nuclear weapon states to forswear the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons, the United States and North Korea signed the Agreed Framework. Under this agreement, Pyongyang committed to freezing its illicit plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid. Following the collapse of this agreement in 2002, North Korea claimed that it had withdrawn from the NPT in January 2003 and once again began operating its nuclear facilities.

“The second major diplomatic effort were the Six-Party Talks initiated in August of 2003 which involved China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. In between periods of stalemate and crisis, those talks arrived at critical breakthroughs in 2005, when North Korea pledged to abandon “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and return to the NPT, and in 2007, when the parties agreed on a series of steps to implement that 2005 agreement. Those talks, however, broke down in 2009 following disagreements over verification and an internationally condemned North Korea rocket launch. Pyongyang has since stated that it would never return to the talks and is no longer bound by their agreements. The other five parties state that they remain committed to the talks, and have called for Pyongyang to recommit to its 2005 denuclearization pledge.”

North Korea is also strongly suspected of proliferating its missile and nuclear technology, particularly to Iran. South Korea’s Yonhap  news agency reported that “ Officials from a North Korean firm on a U.N. sanction list over its suspected arms trade visited Iran earlier this month after the U.N. Security Council imposed tougher punitive measures on the firm, a source said Monday. The Korea Mining Development Trading Corp. (KOMID), known as North Korea’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, has been sanctioned by the U.S. and the United Nations since 2009. Ranking officials from the company visited Iran on March 6, which has been long suspected of maintaining ties with North Korea over nuclear and missile programs, according to a source familiar to North Korean affairs. Tehran has denied such speculation.”

A 2010 United Nations report stated that North Korea had exported nuclear and missile technology to both Iran and Syria. A Syrian nuclear plant was said to be based on North Korean blueprints.

As North Korea continues to rapidly move ahead with its nuclear program, and the land and submarine-launched missile capabilities with which to deliver them against targets throughout the world, (as well as the potential to sell or give these weapons to terrorist organizations or the nations that support those terrorist forces) crucial decisions will have to be made.

As North Korea continues to loudly proclaim its willingness to engage in a nuclear attack on other nations, a new concern has now been added.

During the Obama Administration, deep cuts to U.S. defenses included the White House elimination of the American ability to effectively fight a war in two separate theaters at the same time.  Recently, North Korea threatened Israel in response to statements by Israeli officials about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. The potential for actions against American allies in other parts of the world, the Middle East being the most likely, exists if the U.S. took action against North Korea’s nuclear program.  This would place the U.S. in the position of having to fight on two diverse fronts, at a time when its military is at an extremely weak state.

Additionally, President Obama’s opposition to U.S. missile defenses has left the U.S. with only minimal protection against a missile attack.  The fact that a signal nuclear blast, detonated at a precise location, could destroy, through an electromagnetic pulse, most continental U.S. electrical facilities, thus devastating the American economy, remains.

Considering that sobering fact, and the ongoing threats from North Korea, means that any attempt to destroy North Korea’s missile and nuclear capabilities would have to be thorough to an extraordinary degree, a feat that may wind up involving the U.S. in conflict with Chinese or Russian interests.

Dangers, Stakes of North Korean Conflict Are Vast

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government takes a two-part look at the enormous dangerous and stakes in responding to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. 

The stakes and dangers of the crisis in North Korea are significantly larger than has been discussed in the media so far. Those dangers are not restricted to North Korea’s direct actions.

The realities of the crisis are deeply worrisome.  Hopes that the United Nations could rein in Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons program have been dashed.

In April, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement which noted: “”The members of the Security Council expressed their utmost concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance of the Security Council by conducting this ballistic missile launch in violation of its international obligations.” The move was ignored by North Korea.

38 North noted in 2016: “The evolution of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs has created a new strategic reality. In that reality, the current sanctions approach cannot lead to the denuclearization of North Korea and may not do much more to slow it.”

Contrary to public statements, it is evident that neither China nor Russia have exerted the decisive pressure they are capable of against Kim Jong-un.

There is the generally unspoken, but clearly distressing fact that Beijing and Moscow both gain from North Korea’s belligerence. It distracts from China’s unlawful aggression in the South China sea, and from Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian territory and its increased threats toward Eastern Europe. Both of those nations have also embarked on massive weapons programs, which have been jettisoned from the headlines by North Korea’s actions.

The unfortunate but all too relevant fact is that China, (while potentially suffering from a significant influx of refugees if fighting were to break out on the Korean Peninsula, and would not welcome a potential South Korean-led reunited Korean nation if in fact a U.S. led military action (or coup) successfully took place) would make major geopolitical gains if North Korea initiated a major military strike against American, Japanese, or South Korean forces in the region. Even if a U.S. led retaliation proved ultimately successful, the wearing down of those allied forces, and the inevitable exhaustion of their civilian populations, would clearly allow Beijing to fulfill its goal of becoming the nearly undisputed regional hegemon.

In the past, Russia has objected to some U.N. Security Council resolutions. China, while supporting some measures, has done so only after insisting they be watered down, rendering them useless.

While there are no direct links between Russia and China with the North Korean nuclear-capable missile program, there are disturbing ties. In February, the National Interest stated that:

“President Trump …said the U.S. has “a big, big problem” with North Korea. In fact, America may have a big, big problem with China…he needs to know where the [North Korean missile] Pukguksong-2 came from…Last August, two leading analysts—Tal Inbar, of Israel’s Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, and Bruce Bechtol, of Angelo State University in Texas—noted the missile tested then looked like it was modeled on China’s JL-1 submarine-launched ballistic missile. Richard Fisher of the Virginia-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, in comments to the National Interest, also points out the similarities between China’s and North Korea’s SLBMs, as sub-launched missiles are known.”

The analysts quoted by the National Interest note that there is no specific evidence that either the Kremlin or Beijing directly provided the technology. They maintain that other nations that were the recipients of Russian or Chinese tech, including Iran and Pakistan, could also have provided the transfer.

That potential increases worries that North Korea could, in return, provide its nuclear technology to those nations, and, particularly in the case of Iran, to terrorist forces they support.

Several factors have become readily apparent. Diplomatic solutions have proven ineffective. North Korea is rapidly nearing the ability to blackmail any nation it chooses to with its nuclear capabilities. Pyongyang may also enable other forces wishing to harm the United States and other western nations by providing them with the weapons of mass destruction to do so.

The Report concludes tomorrow.

Danger on the Korean Peninsula includes China, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of the danger on the Korean Peninsula.

The extremely uncomfortable question that remains unanswered about North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs is why does China object to reasonable defense measures by South Korea and the United States?

The Washington Post notes, “Given how angry Beijing gets about [the U.S. anti-missile system] THAAD, you may be forgiven for thinking that the U.S. missile system, deployed to South Korea, is primarily aimed at China. However, Washington and Seoul have justified the system by saying it is necessary to defend South Korea from North Korean aggression.”

China’s semi-official newspaper, the Global Times,  proclaimed: “China has not been able to prevent THAAD from being set up in South Korea…Beijing should keep calm and adopt resolute and efficient measures to minimize its threat toward China. ..We should start from increasing sanctions toward Seoul…we can take the current opportunity to squeeze South Korean cultural products out of the Chinese market. This is the price the country must pay for the THAAD deployment. China should also focus on military countermeasures and strategically deal with more threats. The deployment of THAAD in South Korea has two consequences – it directly threatens military activities within China, moreover, it sets a precedent that Washington can arbitrarily implement its anti-missile arrangements around China. Both will jeopardize China’s security.Can we neutralize THAAD technically? Research in this field must be enforced. If possible, Beijing must realize it at all costs. One thing is for sure, China’s related strategic weapons must target South Korea’s Seongju County, where THAAD will be installed.”

The “threat” that China sees, therefore, is that it believes the THAAD system could have an application against its own growing nuclear arsenal—aimed at the U.S.

China’s complicated relations with North Korea is this: it is not bothered that the “hermit Kingdom” threatens its neighbors and the U.S. Beijing just doesn’t want the threat to prompt South Korea, Japan or the United States to strengthen regional defenses.

Russia, too, has objected to the THAAD deployment, notes Townhall: “Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the ThAAD deployment would escalate tensions in the region: ‘Such actions, no matter how they are explained, very negatively affect global strategic security, adherence to which is so often discussed by Washington. They may also result in escalation of tensions in the region, new difficulties for resolving acute problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the task of its denuclearization.’”

While China takes public steps apparently indicating that it wishes to discourages North Korean advances in strategic weapons, it clandestinely assists those same activities. Commerce Secretary Wilbur R. Ross recently announced that China’s Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd., known collectively as ZTE, has agreed to a record-high combined civil and criminal penalty of $1.19 billion, pending approval from the courts, after illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea in violation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).

Some key observers believe there is more than a passing relationship between the technological military personnel of China and North Korea. 38 North explains:

“Some analysts are skeptical that Pyongyang could have achieved success at such an impressive rate without aid from a more technologically capable benefactor—namely, China. These analysts have noted similarities between the KN-11, North Korea’s indigenous SLBM, and the Chinese-made JL-1. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that China offered the North direct technical assistance in recent years. As Henry Kissinger once stated, Beijing is fully aware of the costs of complicity in helping advance Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. A nuclear North Korea risks the nuclearization of East Asia—most notably, Japan and South Korea. Such proliferation would shift the balance of military power in Asia, boding poorly for Chinese interests. China has, however, tolerated indirect assistance to North Korea that likely helped to accelerate its nuclear and missile program. The recent US indictment of Ma Xiaohong, the CEO of Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company, demonstrates both the scale and nature of Chinese complicity. By one estimate, the Hongxiang Group’s trade with North Korea totaled in excess of $500 million over the last five years. The concern is that the company’s subsidiaries have exported dual-use commodities with nuclear and missile applications. Beijing’s early cooperation on this matter suggests that it may not have provided direct support to Pyongyang’s weapons program and that it is willing to enforce the US Treasury Department’s sanctions against North Korean companies, at least for the time being.”