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The New Threat of Warfare

April 10, 2014

As a kid, I can remember all the fun of living under the threat of all-out nuclear war.  It was often something that would come up in conversation, and there were occasional drills or reminders.  And heck, that’s not anywhere near as bad as it used to be in the 50’s when air raid drills were a regular occasion.

These days, most people don’t think about nuclear war, even though the threat still exists.  The general belief is that humanity could not be anywhere near so barbaric as to destroy itself.  Well, maybe not, but there are a lot of crazy people out there, and there are threats that go beyond all-out destruction.

North Korea has the capability to deliver on its threats to carry out a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack on the United States, it has been claimed.

Dr Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, has reportedly seen a long-suppressed government report that concludes North Korea is capable of using an Unha-3 rocket to carry out an attack on the U.S..

He says the U.S. would be particularly vulnerable to such an attack, as any rocket from North Korea is likely to travel over the South Pole and approach from the south – something American missile defences would apparently be powerless to stop.

I have to admit, I don’t necessarily believe the “coming from the south” part, though it’s possible.  The Germans had a pretty simple plan to drop a bomb on New York using a manned V-2 and skipping off the atmosphere.  It’s likely they could have done it with another five years and less allied bombers slowing them down.  So a rogue nation doing some form of skip bombing is likely feasible.

But I would expect that the real effect would be from a North Korean nuke targeted for Japan in an EMP attack.  To keep China and Korea from bearing too much of a hit, they’d have to angle a burst out over the North Pacific, and I could see it touching the US in some areas.

All of these scenarios are pretty low in likelihood, but not zero.  And it’s a different problem than just a quick annihilation of a city…  Very few electronic devices are shielded well enough to stop an EMP, and even a moderate disruption of systems could cause local chaos.

I would still think that cyber warfare is a larger threat, but we still have to be prepared for a variety of attacks.  It’s good that we’re no longer holding the sword of nuclear war over ourselves and our kids… but it’s not good that we’re saying all is well.


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