Wednesday, April 12, 2017

North Korean EMP Satellites

There has been some press lately regarding the possibility of the North Koreans sending the United States back to the Stone Age with a high altitude "EMP" weapon.

Here is a little background:

A nuclear weapon that is activated between 30 and 200 miles above the surface of the earth creates an electro-magnetic pulse due to three separate phenomena.

This post will focus on the E1 pulse created by the Compton effect.

Due to the magnetic field of the earth, the Electro-magnetic flux is not evenly distributed.  Over most of the United States the strongest part of the field (75% or more of the maximum) is shaped like a clown smile.

The problem of altitude
The North Korean satellites are currently orbiting at approximately  300 miles above the earth's surface.  If detonated at that altitude the gamma rays would be diluted.  Remember that the intensity is proportional to 1/R^2.  Doubling the distance reduces the intensity by a factor of four.

Then there is the issue of North Korean nuclear weapon yield.  The first time they tested a nuclear weapon that was more than 10kt yield in September of 2016.  Some of the earlier weapons might have been slightly more than 10kt based on the range of estimates but we know with certainty that they passed that yield level in September of 2016.
Arrows indicate potential satellite paths with the typical ball-of-kite-string path.  Elongated "eye" is the target that would create a clown smile that covers the southern 3/4 of the Eastern Megalopolis, including Washington D.C.  The clown-smile would inconvenience approximately 40 Million people.
Based on the relatively low yield and the geography of the United States (the assumed target) the device would have to be in the 40-to-50 mile altitude range.

The problem for the military is to identify North Korean satellites that are dropping from 300 miles to less than 60 miles (which should be easy) and to have batteries of SAM stationed on the south shore of Lake Ontario and somewhere around Panama City, Florida.  The SAM must have sufficient range to reach out to approximately 100 miles of altitude to ensure they have enough reach.


  1. I think L'il Kim is crazier than an outhouse rat, but I don't think that he's crazy enough to try to nuke the US.

    With at least one (that we know of) carrier group off his shores, major military maneuvers in S. Korea, and 150K Chinese hanging out on the Yalu River, he's got an interesting tactical problem.

    Kim's biggest problem right now are the generals who are standing behind him in all the photos. Those guys are survivors of several purges, and probably a cut-throat bunch. If L'il Kim pushes too hard, there might be a tragic accident, and a new strong-man talking peace.


    Field tested today for NK?