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The Military

North Korea Developing Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-you-need-electricity-for-that? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Sydney Morning Herald reports, 'North Korea is using Russian technology to develop electromagnetic pulse weapons aimed at paralyzing military electronic equipment south of the border, according to South Korea's spy agency. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a report to parliament that the North had purchased Russian electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry to develop its own versions. EMP weapons are used to damage electronic equipment. At higher energy levels, an EMP can cause more widespread damage including to aircraft structures and other objects. The spy agency also said the North's leader Kim Jong-Un sees cyber attacks as an all-purpose weapon along with nuclear weapons and missiles, according to legislators briefed by the NIS.'" Let's not forget that North Korea has also achieved nuclear fusion, developed a super drink that can cure aging and disease, and found a "unicorn lair" last year.
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North Korea Developing Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @01:38AM (#45353345)

    It's all part of a plan to destroy the rest of the world by having the only part that doesn't use electronics. Thus they can set off a global EMP without consequence.

    Clever of them, isn't it?

  • Bad idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @01:39AM (#45353349) Homepage

    Wouldn't an EMP also fry all of the electronics owned by North Korean citizens....oh..wait.

    • Now it all makes sense...

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Not if its directed.

      Sure, NK doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell of pulling it off, but directed energy weapons are NOT a bad idea in principle, and if done correctly could be far more effective than projectile weapons.

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        The laws of physics say otherwise. Kinetic energy weapons are far more effective than lasers within the limits of their range.
        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Yep, there's a reason why directed energy weapon research in the US was linked to the SDI: you have to be outside of an atmosphere before they're worthwhile.

          • by cusco (717999)

            Or be at a closer range. If you want to fire at something 500 miles away you need to be out of the atmosphere because 1) your target is over the horizon, 2) the energy is dissipated in the atmosphere. Directed energy weapons are worthwhile if you're up close and line of sight, and EMP weapons (not the same thing) work through walls over short distances as long as the attacker keeps the inverse square rule in mind.

        • Re:Bad idea (Score:4, Interesting)

          by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @03:56PM (#45359583) Journal

          Depends on what you're trying to do.

          Consider America's modern soldier--or maybe a few years down the road. He's wearing radios and cameras, has computer-aided targeting systems, etc. How are the North Koreans going to compete against that kind of technology?

          On the other hand, if you could knock it out from a short distance away, you turn an effectively integrated military unit into a bunch of guys with guns. You level the playing field.

          • It does depend on what you're trying to do.
            America could take North Korea easily. But it couldn't take China which was one of the reasons the peninsula is split in two today.
            If you're China, the American soldier's radio and cameras are interesting artifacts but inconsequential.
            There are a million armed Russian soldier on China's northern border at all times.
            That sounds like a lot of people to everyone except the Chinese.
  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @01:42AM (#45353355)

    Maybe even some wool socks if they're really pushing things.

  • As one of few nations in the world capable of functioning effectively without electricity. This could perhaps be the most interesting attack North Korea could ever make. Let's hope someone leaks the loction of the SMH servers to them.
  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Thursday November 07, 2013 @01:48AM (#45353379) Journal

    The reality is the anti-aging drink, nuclear fusion and EMP weapons are all byproducts of the biggest find, which was of course the unicorn lair. Technology beyond your wildest dreams, the unicorns have always held it back from us.
    I for one hail our North Korean, unicorn riding overlords.

  • by pspahn (1175617) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @01:50AM (#45353387)

    If you want to know what they're up to in Pyong-yang, check out the Bing Maps sat photos of the promenade near the stadium.

    map [binged.it]

    • Ewh (Score:2, Funny)

      You use bing?

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        For most places that I've looked at, Bing has better "bird's eye" imagery then Google has at maximum zoom level. If you're just looking for basic satellite imagery, directions, etc I prefer Google Maps, but if you want the best detail, I think Bing is better.

        Everything else Bing-related sucks though.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @01:59AM (#45353419) Homepage Journal
    You would need a huge conventional device if you wanted to create the press vision of destructive field at any useful strength over distance.
    Real military devices are hardened and ready by design for nuclear related EMP. The Swiss bunkers show planning for such events in the real world at a civilian bunker setting over many, many years.
    The other option is a low yield nuclear device with the desired characteristics - again something military devices are hardened and ready by design.
    Or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphite_bomb [wikipedia.org] to go after an electrical supply grid.
    So the military was always ready.
    • by hibji (966961)

      And I assume that civilian installations are not EMP protected. I think blowing up a few key electrical utility installations can do a great deal of damage. Think a large fraction of the east coast for example without electrical power, and no ability to restore it for at least days if not weeks. I assume these EMP devices are not nuclear, so they would perhaps be easier to smuggle as well.

      • by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:24AM (#45353527) Homepage Journal
        Serbia, Iraq shows that the lights off out and stay off for a while. What can utility crews do? Race back to the supply depo and pick up a limited amount of just in time expensive stock and patch up a section of grid connected what?
        As for EMP in the real world - creating a useful field is the unique physics per device size or weight gets strange with expected range focused on military equipment thats shielded...
        There is no 'win' with easy with EMP unless you go nuclear to form the EMP. The huge conventional forces needed to create the 'needed' EMP will have more range than the produced EMP.
    • by cold fjord (826450) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:16AM (#45353487)

      A., one of the trends of the last several decades is much greater use of OTS (Off The Shelf) equipment in the military. That is just buying existing commercial equipment without all of the traditional MILSPEC type hardening that would have been done in the past. That has meant much quicker fielding times, and more current technology, but at the cost of much greater vulnerability to EMP and other associated effects. Some recent prime examples would be the tablet PCs the military is deploying, and various low level tactical communications gear. There are others.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        No more fancy Windows based digital map or point and tap network support? If junk consumer grade "equipment" has really made it much deeper into Western militaries - then LOL and congrats on the political skills of the contractors, their cash flow and marketing teams :)
        As for EMP if it worked it would be for sale, been tested in any of the small conflicts and found to be useful and be in mass production.
      • A., one of the trends of the last several decades is much greater use of OTS (Off The Shelf) equipment in the military. That is just buying existing commercial equipment without all of the traditional MILSPEC type hardening that would have been done in the past. That has meant much quicker fielding times, and more current technology, but at the cost of much greater vulnerability to EMP and other associated effects. Some recent prime examples would be the tablet PCs the military is deploying, and various low level tactical communications gear. There are others.

        Yeah and all the Chinese made electronic components in that hardened, MILSPEC gear that the US military use really helps, I'm sure.

    • by guttentag (313541) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @03:49AM (#45353821) Journal
      North Korea's real weapon is fear. Has been for decades.

      South Korea has the world's 15th-largest economy, but it is largely driven by electronics exports [wikimedia.org]. North Korea has been threatening nuclear weapons for so long it's like the boy who cried wolf. The world knows the North is not going to resort to a nuclear strike unless something goes very, very wrong. So it needed a new, more-plausible boogie man. What better, and cheaper, to scare the world into giving it economic aid than the threat of an EMP strike that could cripple the South's economy? It wouldn't set the North back that far, and the world's response would be far less punitive than the response to a nuclear strike.

      Of course, it's quite likely the North lacks the ability to deliver an effective EMP weapon, just as it lacks the ability to deliver a nuclear strike on the U.S. But to the masses, its just believable enough thanks to Western media plot devices. Did your parents ever waste electricity leaving a night light on to keep the monsters away from your bed at night? They knew there were no monsters, but it was a small cost compared to having you spend the night in their room. Likewise, the North is betting that the first world governments would rather spend a token amount on aid than waste all their time trying to reassure their citizens that the EMP monster isn't really going to take away their TVs/smartphones/etc.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Is there any law of physics that prevents making a semiconductor EMP bomb? I mean, we now have photolitho-produced electron accelerators...

  • by subreality (157447) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:18AM (#45353503)

    Let's not forget that North Korea has also achieved nuclear fusion, developed a super drink that can cure aging and disease, and found a "unicorn lair" last year.

    And let's not forget that the US has achieved democracy, developed a universal healthcare plan to cure aging and disease, and found WMDs in Iraq.

    Our bullshit is more refined but equally pervasive.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:37AM (#45353573)

      >US has achieved democracy

      yes she actually has, and after world war II defended it even on other places like western europe (where i am from)

      the self loathing of the west (here in europe and in the U.S.), and the constant ridiculing of democracy is striking.

      if the motive for such comments is an expression of disappointment with some of the weaknesses of the current democratic system then ok i understand. But if somebody REALLY believes that our democratic system (with all its weaknesses) is "just as bad" as a dictatorship (like in north korea), then i can only suggest to pick up a history book and make a reality check

      • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @03:35AM (#45353763)
        That the corporate democracy in the USA isn't as bad as a dictatorship doesn't mean it is the golden solution.
        No, from all that I can see the USA doesn't have a democracy anymore. It has corporate democracy and that is quite a different beast.
      • by Terrasque (796014)

        The thing I don't like about the US democracy is that it's essentially false dilemma [wikipedia.org] based. Yes, you do have more than two parties, but "everyone knows" that they will never get elected, and you can't let the other side win, so you "have" to vote on one of the two big parties.

        How much of a democracy is it when the choice is that limited? It's a soft limit, but still an effective limit.

        If North Korea let the people select from, say Kim Jong-un and (while he was alive) Kim Jong-il. Would that then be a democr

      • Yes, the US exported democracy everywhere.

        It would have been nice, though, if they kept some for domestic use.

    • Who said that WMDs were found in Iraq?

      • Who said that WMDs were found in Iraq?

         

        Well, NBC News for one...http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4997808/

      • Who said that WMDs were found in Iraq?

        An American citizen who had been in Syria fighting for the rebels was, on returning to the US, charged with using a 'weapon of mass destruction'. This was an RPG. If thats a WMD then FUCK YEAH WMDs were found in Iraq!

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Has anyone ever claimed with a straight face that the US has "developed a universal healthcare plan to cure aging and disease"?

      I assume you're referring to Obamacare, but even its most strident supporters basically view it as a step in the right direction (i.e. towards single payer). And no one claims single payer (or any other health insurance system) "cures aging" or anything ridiculous like that. Just that's its more cost effective.

      There's plenty of ridiculous propaganda employed in the US. Like claim

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      They never actually claimed any of those things, they were just western propaganda designed to make them look silly. In contrast the US genuinely claimed that Iraq had WMD and started a huge international war effort based on that lie, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process.

      • There's absolutely no need for the west to fabricate these bizarre claims. Are you at all familiar with the KCNA?

        http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2012/201211/news29/20121129-20ee.html [kcna.co.jp]

        This is an official mouthpiece of the DPKR. Read some stories on the site. It's some kind of bizarro world in which The DKPR is an embattled champion of freedom, and a really great place for the whole family!

        Why would the west need to bother? The DKPR does the job for us.

    • And let's not forget that the US has achieved democracy, developed a universal healthcare plan to cure aging and disease, and found WMDs in Iraq.

      Yes America has the best politicians money can buy

  • If they are copying Russian EMP weapons, that might explain something.

    I think I found a picture showing the results of one of their tests. [scientificamerican.com]

  • What are you smoking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:25AM (#45353531)

    Given the frivolous nature of the comments on this article thus far it seems that few of you have ever considered the effects of a serious EMP attack on your way of life. The mere fact that NK can put something in orbit means they don't necessarily have to have the tech to deliver it to the us as you would a ballistic missile, but just wait for the oppotune time to de-orbit it. In addition, the US happens to be in a location where the earth's magnetic field can significantly enhance the effect of a NEMP. My admittedly hazy memory says the effect of catastrophic failure of US power infrastructure from a well placed NEMP was 70% of the population due to starvation, rioting and the other horsemen of the apocalypse. In addition, the estimate was decades to restore full services if you even could under such circumstances.

    • by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @02:35AM (#45353567)
      No, I think 70% of the population will die due to exageration. The other 99% will carry on as usual.
      • by cold fjord (826450) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @03:17AM (#45353707)

        Unfortunately EMP is a genuine serious threat, and North Korea poses a potential threat not just to the US, but to Australia, Japan, and other nations as well.

        Inside the Ring: North Korean missiles deemed a serious threat to U.S. [washingtontimes.com]
        'North Korea's nuclear weapons could hit UK': Alarm at David Cameron's claim [mirror.co.uk]

        An EMP Could Cripple the U.S. [heritage.org]

        An EMP is a torrent of electromagnetic energy that disrupts and destroys electronic devices within an affected area. As a result of such an event, most electrical devices would fail, most cars would cease functioning, airplanes would fall from the sky, and critical infrastructure—such as water and sewers, banking, energy, transportation, information technology, and others—would shut down.

        Importantly, the electrical components and transmission systems would be permanently destroyed, requiring enormous levels of repair and rebuilding. Huge swaths of the U.S. would be without even the most basic of services for years, and it could take decades to fully recover. The economic and human losses would be catastrophic.

        EMP Attacks—What the U.S. Must Do Now [heritage.org]

        An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack represents one of the greatest threats imaginable—to the United States and the world. An EMP occurs when a nuclear device is detonated high in the atmosphere—a phenomenon of which America’s enemies are well aware. The electromagnetic discharge can permanently disable the electrical systems that run nearly all civilian and military infrastructures. A massive EMP attack on the United States would produce almost unimaginable devastation. Communications would collapse, transportation would halt, and electrical power would simply be non-existent. Not even a global humanitarian effort would be enough to keep hundreds of millions of Americans from death by starvation, exposure, or lack of medicine. Nor would the catastrophe stop at U.S. borders. Most of Canada would be devastated, too, as its infrastructure is integrated with the U.S. power grid. Without the American economic engine, the world economy would quickly collapse. Much of the world’s intellectual brain power (half of it is in the United States) would be lost as well. Earth would most likely recede into the “new” Dark Ages.

        A single nuke exploded above America could cause a national blackout for months. [acdemocracy.org]

        One EMP burst and the world goes dark [usatoday.com]

        • by myowntrueself (607117) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:34AM (#45354301)

          I just want to point out that "alarm at David Cameron's claim" is actually "alarm that UK PM is delusional."

          • by Sockatume (732728)

            I'd be genuinely alarmed that Cameron's leadership has left us so feckless that a tiny, technologically backwards nation on the other side of the globe was an existential threat. How bad do you have to be at your job that North Korea is near the top of the threats list?

            • I'd be genuinely alarmed that Cameron's leadership has left us so feckless that a tiny, technologically backwards nation on the other side of the globe was an existential threat. How bad do you have to be at your job that North Korea is near the top of the threats list?

              You have to be delusional, that was my point.

              Cameron, and anyone who believes that NK is near the top of the threats list of the UK, is delusional.

    • Given the frivolous nature of the comments on this article thus far it seems that few of you have ever considered the effects of a serious EMP attack on your way of life. The mere fact that NK can put something in orbit means they don't necessarily have to have the tech to deliver it to the us as you would a ballistic missile, but just wait for the oppotune time to de-orbit it. In addition, the US happens to be in a location where the earth's magnetic field can significantly enhance the effect of a NEMP. My admittedly hazy memory says the effect of catastrophic failure of US power infrastructure from a well placed NEMP was 70% of the population due to starvation, rioting and the other horsemen of the apocalypse. In addition, the estimate was decades to restore full services if you even could under such circumstances.

      Actually, I'm quite aware of what the effects may be. There's just not a whole lot anyone, except the military, can do. We're already quite prepared for the follow-on effects (Four Horsemen). Short of creating an absolute Faraday cage around the house here, something I've actually done before in uniform, not much anyone can do. Hmm..., thinking about it, perhaps a small Faraday cage for the life-saving electronics might be in order.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Have you thought about not antagonizing them? Your navy parades around, dick in one hand and ruler in the other, every year just off their coast. Wouldn't you feel a bit threatened if NK warships did that off the United States' west coast?

  • they will function as well as their missiles. Well, probably.
  • by mmontour (2208) <mail@mmontour.net> on Thursday November 07, 2013 @03:00AM (#45353671)

    Let's also not forget that North Korea successfully launched a satellite [heavens-above.com] into a stable polar orbit (higher than the ISS). That first payload was a bit of a dud, but they have a proven ability to send a package over any part of the Earth's surface.

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Yeah, but they might hit China if they aim for us. They are a blind kid at a shooting range firing a shooting competition, hitting spectators behind the firing range. If life were Star Wars, NK would be Imperial Stormtroopers, who couldn't hit a target the size of the broad side of an Executor Class star destroyer if they were 20 meters away.

  • "At higher energy levels, an EMP can cause more widespread damage including to aircraft structures and other objects."

    What is this about? I looked into it and it is actually something the media is copy pasting from wikipedia. The original quote from wiki also includes the extra words "At higher energy levels, an EMP event such as a lightning strike can cause more widespread damage to aircraft structures and other objects."
    Can someone who knows the science explain this to me? Can an EMP weapon actually
  • Even more repulsive.

  • The only EMP weapons that can cause damage on a scale greater than "annoying" are nukes set off in the upper atmosphere.

    Try using one of those, NK, and come back and tell us about all the non-glassed land you don't have.

    Most they could do is build some EPFCGs and drop them on the US from balloons WW2 Japan-style, to black out a few city blocks.

  • They also claimed self-buttering toast but really that was my invention. I never brought it to market because the bread market bullied me and took the patents. If it weren't for that powerful lobby you could be enjoying my yummy toast for breakfast as you cruise to work in your water-fueled self-driving flying car which was also stopped by powerful lobbies. >_>

  • Is it powerful enough to zap a car radio, thereby make the people inside die from boredom?

  • North Korea launches EMP satellite and invades US :P

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQeQWWKKvq4 [youtube.com]

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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