North_Korea_coa

 

Although the friction between the two Koreas has increased the past several months, most military analysts doubt that war will break out on the Korean Peninsula any time soon. Not only is the timing unlikely to help China’s own political agenda, but the North Korean government has more insidious plans in the works.

Actually launching an all-out attack on Seoul and invading South Korea with the million man North Korean army is not the ultimate vision of dictator Kim Jong-il-a vision secretly shared by the mullahs in Tehran. Both regimes are working in concert and at a furious pace to implement a "doomsday scenario" for their mutual enemy: the United States of America.

David and Goliath
US strength is being tested daily. From its weakened economy, the perilous situation in Europe, two ongoing wars and fending off asymmetrical warfare against terrorist networks like al-Qaeda, to preparing for a future cyber war, America has it proverbial hands full and its resources scattered all over the globe.
The NKoreans and America’s other enemies are watching closely. They are gauging America’s responses—or lack of response. They are testing and calculating and planning.
According to Western intelligence sources, several years ago Kim Jong-il’s military analyst discovered one of America’s greatest Achilles’ Heels: the superpowers reliance on computer technology.
The computers that the US uses to keep 21st Century America moving are simultaneously one of its greatest assets and one of its greatest potential weaknesses. A potential cyber attack from Russia, China or some other state weighs heavily on the minds of the military personnel involved with war game scenarios.
But there is a greater danger than cyber warfare. It is a danger that countries like NKorea and Iran are working towards exploiting. And that danger is an electromagnetic pulse, or "EMP."
The nuclear EMP weapon
"An EMP that results from a nuclear weapon … destroys any ‘unhardened’ electronic equipment and electric power system—which means virtually any civilian infrastructure in the United States. The pulse occurs when a nuclear weapon explodes … at an altitude between 40 and 400 kilometers.
"The detonation of the nuclear warhead releases … energetic particles [that] scatter in every direction away from the blast. Many of the particles descend and interact with the magnetic field lines of the Earth, where they become trapped. The trapped electrons then create an oscillating electric current within the field, which rapidly produces a large electromagnetic field in the form of a pulse.
"Once the pulse reaches electronic equipment, it negatively interacts with them and either disables, damages, or destroys them. An EMP generated by a nuclear weapon could affect all critical infrastructures that depend on electricity and electronics within the vicinity of the nuclear warhead blast radius. A nuclear weapon with a burst height of approximately 100 kilometers could expose objects located within an area 725 miles in diameter to the effects of EMP." [1]

Why the US computer network is at risk
Since so many consumer products today rely on computer chips—such as automobiles—they would immediately become inoperative. The entire banking system would collapse, as well as the entire infrastructure of thefinancial services markets. Manufacturers would be affected, all forms of transportation, many government facilities—especially at the state and local levels—and hospitals, agribusinesses, water processing plants, electrical generating plants…for all practical purposes everything would grind to a halt.
All this could occur with one well-placed nuclear detonation above the West Coast or western Midwest. The failures would cascade like dominoes and knock out the entire electrical grid of the US and maybe most of Canada and Mexico too.
US preparedness and comprehensive planning for an EMP attack remains woefully underdeveloped despite persistent warnings, such as the one in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review that the "expanded reliance on sophisticated electronic technologies by the United States, its allies and partners increases their vulnerability to the destructive effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP)." [2]
The race for nuclear tipped missiles—an EMP weapon
Iran, partnered with NKorea, is working on upgrading its own missiles. They seek a new class with more accuracy and greater effective range. Their goal is to wed nuclear warheads to long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (LRICBMs). Although the U.N. and most Western powers know this, they are only making halfhearted attempts to prevent it.
Yet NKorea is almost there. Tweaking the Western powers—and the United States in particular—the generals in Pyongyang have dubbed their newest class missile the"Los Angeles" rocket. Of course they are implying that they intend (if given half the chance) to mate their growing nuclear arsenal with perfected missiles and threaten the West Coast of the United States with nuclear annihilation.
Yet NKorea actually has no intention of doing this. Their actual plan is much more diabolical.  
Kim Jong-il’s "Los Angeles" missile
Over the years, NKorea has built and tested many variations of missiles, always seeking to improve their range.
The last such test occurred during the summer of 2009. According to the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper in Seoul, the NKorean missile was launched from the Dongchang-ni launch site located on North Korea’s west coast. The missile was an improved version of the Taepodong-2 fired in April of that same year.

The missile was designed to have an effective reach of 4,000 miles and could threaten Hawaii, Alaska and the US West Coast.
Although their LRICBM failed, the NKoreans haven’t given up.
The Taep’o-dong-2 is the missile that intelligence data indicates NKorea is currently developing. Both NKorea and Iran (Iran’s version is the Shahab-5) are building rockets with a range in excess of 4,000 miles. Experts theorize that the rocket performance may be similar to the older Soviet SS-5 missiles.
The consequences
Defending the US from a nuclear EMP weapon launched by a rogue state like NKorea (or even Iran) is no easy task. Why is this? From a technological perspective, America has painted itself into a corner and is now extremely vulnerable to such an attack.
Although the US is a superpower, its economy and infrastructure is very fragile. The attack on 911 proved that America can be defeated if just a few things go terribly wrong: the stand down of commercial aviation for about one week was sufficient to throw the entire American economy into a tailspin.
An EMP attack would be magnitudes worse than 911. The economy would be thrown into a severe depression within 24 hours. Food riots would break out and martial law declared across the country. Potable water would become scarce and urban areas potential deathtraps.
All radio, television and most means of communication would be out for weeks or months. In one great blow America would be reduced to a Third World nation in a matter of hours.
This nightmare is the dream that NKorea is working hard to achieve.  
Sources
[1] "Independent Working Group on Missile Defense, the Space Relationship, and the Twenty-First Century, 2007 Report," The Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, 2007.
[2] U.S. Department of Defense, "Quadrennial Defense Review Report," February 6, 2006.

Links
NKoreas missiles illustration

NKoreas missiles specifications

Missiles

061009_WS_KimJongIlEX

Name
Stages
Propellant
Range (km)
IOC
Inventory
Type
Body Dia. (m)
Comments

Scud-B
1
liquid
280-330
1981
100?
SRBM
0.885

Hwasong-5
1
liquid
280-330
1984
150?
SRBM
0.885
Derivative of Scud-B

Hwasong-6
1
liquid
500-700
1989
250?
SRBM
0.885
Derivative of Scud-C

No-dong
1
liquid
1,350-1,500
1999
12-36
MRBM
1.3
Also flown by Iran (Shahab-3) and Pakistan (Ghauri II)

Taep’o-dong-1 Paeutudan-1
2
liquid
2,000-2,200
2000
0
MRBM
1.3
Indigenously developed system with performance similar to the Soviet SS-4

NKSL-1/Taep’o-dong-1
3
liquid + solid
2,200-2,672
or
2,200-2,896
1998
(ILC)
0
M/IRBM
1.3
Satellite launch variant of the Taep’o-dong-1. Basis for the design of Iran’sShahab-4

Taep’o-dong-2
2
liquid
3,500-3,750
6,400-6,700
7,000
8,000-12,000
N/A
0
LRICBM
LRICBM
LRICBM
FRICBM
2.2
This is a hypothetical advance on the Taep’o-dong-1. North Korea is not believed to currently possess a functional version of this missile, but both North Korea and Iran (Shahab-5) are believed to be working towards a missile with these capabilities.

NKSL-X-2/Taep’o-dong-2
3
liquid + solid
4,000-4,300
N/A
(ILC)
0
LRICBM
2.2
This is a satellite launch variant of the hypothetical Taep’o-dong-2 model that may be under development. Basis for the design of Iran’s Shahab-6. It would probably have a similar performance to the Soviet SS-5

No-dong / Shahab-3
Range-Payload to Throwweight Trade-offs

Stages
Payload
Range
Country

kg
Pounds
km
Miles

One-Stage
1,158
2,553
1,350
839
Iran

760
1,676
1,500
932
Pakistan

Official figures

Taep’o-dong-1 / Shahab-4
Range to weight Defenition

Stages
Payload
Range

kg
Pounds
km
Miles

Two-Stage
1,000
2,205
2,000
1,243

750
1,654
2,200
1,367

Three-Stage
500
1,103
2,475
1,538

380
838
2,672
1,660

290
640
2,896
1,800

Estimates based on limited data

Taep’o-dong-2 / Shahab-5
Range-Payload to Throwweight Trade-offs

Stages
Payload
Range

kg
Pounds
km
Miles

Two or Three
Stage variant
1,000
2,205
3,500
2,175

750
1,654
3,750
2,330

570
1,257
4,000
2,486

500
1,103
4,100
2,548

420
926
4,248
2,640

403
889
4,264
2,650

390
860
4,300
2,672

Estimates based on limited data

Improved Taep’o-dong-2B / Shahab-5B/6
Range to weight Defenition

Stages
Payload
Range

kg
Pounds
km
Miles

Three-Stage
610-490
1,345-1081
5470
3,399

570-480
1,257-1058
5,500
3,418

490-440
1,080-970
5,632
3,500

290-330
640-728
6,000
3,728

230-270
505-595
6,200
3,853

170-220
375-485
6,400
3,977

100-150
221-331
6,700
4,163

Preliminary Estimates based on limited data (March 2002)

Taep’o-dong-3 / Shahab-5B / 6
Range to weight Defenition

Stages
Payload
Range

kg
Pounds
km
Miles

Three-Stage
1,200-1,220
2,646-2,690
5,470
3,399

1,130-1,200
2,492-2,646
5,500
3,418

900-1,040
2,492-2,646
5,500
3,418

700
1,544
6,000
3,728

550-540
1,213-1,191
6,200
3,853

390-420
860-926
6,400
3,977

270-290
595-640
6,700
4,163

Preliminary Estimates based on limited data (March 2002)

icbmrange

Taep’o-dong-4 / Shahab-7 Concepts
Range to weight Defenition

Stages
Payload
Range

kg
Pounds
km
Miles

Three-Stage
1,030
2,271
9,000
5,593

810
1,786
10,000
6,214

480
1,054
12,000
7,457

100
221
15,000
9,321

Preliminary Estimates based on a conceptual model for the system

NOTES:

SRBM – Short Range Ballistic Missile < 1,000 km
MRBM – Medium Range Ballistic Missile 1,000-2,500 km
IRBM – Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile 2,500-3,500 km
LRICBM – Limited Range Intercontinental Ballistic Missile 3,500-8,000 km

Many of the ranges suggested for the yet-to-fly missile systems are based on mathematical models relying on what little data has been made public. The large ranges suggested by some of these studies do not necessarily imply likely ranges for an armed missile in the near future, rather they often attempt to extrapolate a maximum possible range for a given design, so as to come up with a worst-case scenario.

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