Military source warns of North’s EMP bomb
North Korea is developing a bomb that emits an electromagnetic field upon explosion and damages nearby electronic devices, a South Korean military source has revealed to the JoongAng Ilbo.
The source said North Korea has been working on the electromagnetic pulse bomb, or EMP bomb, since the mid-1990s, with help from Russian scientists, adding that the weapon may be near completion.
The EMP bomb produces a short but strong electromagnetic pulse that, if exploded 40 kilometers (25 miles) above ground, would affect equipment within a 700-kilometer radius, including exposed electrical conductors, such as wires.
According to Australia-based defense analyst Carlo Kopp and his paper at the GlobalSecurity.org Web site, the EMP effect can cause irreversible damage to electrical and electronic devices, such as computers, radio and radar. He noted that EMP devices can render many modern military platforms useless because they are packed with electronic equipment. He argued that the damaged inflicted by such a bomb is akin to the harm caused by powerful bolts of lightning. The EMP bomb is not known to cause casualties. The U.S. forces used them at the onset of the war on Iraq in 2003.
The South Korean source said he expects the North to develop EMP bombs as warheads for aircraft bombs and for Scud-B missiles, warning that the North could use the weapons early and often if war broke out on the peninsula. South Korean and U.S. forces are vulnerable to EMP attacks since they rely on a great number of computer systems and their weapons are heavily equipped with electronic devices, the source explained.
South Korean military’s C4I, or command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, system, could be paralyzed and the nation’s air force bases, K-9 self-propelled artillery and other support systems put out of action. For instance, if an air force base loses its control functions after an EMP explosion, fighter jets may not be able to land.
The Agency for Defense Development, an institute under the Ministry of National Defense, announced in July that the South Korean military plans to invest 100 billion won ($80.6 million) in a system that defends against EMP attacks. The agency said it is targeting 2014 for the advent of an EMP bomb that can paralyze objects within a 1-kilometer radius. The agency currently has technology for an EMP weapon with a 100-meter radial range.
By Kim Min-seok, Yoo Jee-ho [firstname.lastname@example.org]