Sunday, February 04, 2018

"North Korea's Nuclear Threat in 2018" by The Economist

The Economist offers a short film (Dec. 2017) “North Korea’s Nuclear Threat in 2018” from its “World in 2018” series

The video is commendable for its lack of inflammatory rhetoric and seems to predict that both Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un will avoid war and its catastrophic consequences.

The film documents “only” a credible nuclear threat to the West Coast of the United States, not to the entire mainland, despite the Nov. 28, 2017 “parabolic” H-15 test.
The film is surprising in not mentioning EMP. 

Saturday, January 06, 2018

"Why the Threat of North Korean EMP Weapon Is Overhyped" (by Defense Updates)

Defense Updates (sponsored by Patreon) provides a 7-minute short film “Why Threat of North Korean E.M.P. Weapon Is Overhyped?”

The film makes the threat of EMP damage quite alarming, although it doesn’t distinguish between E1 and E3.  It says the US military is well aware of the problem but refuses to talk about it publicly, and that commercial infrastructure is only partially prepared, and real hardening would be very expensive, after decades of stockholder driven cost cutting.  It is interesting that the film mentions specially designed EMP nukes as tactical nuclear weapons.

However, the political climate for Kim Jong Un makes a full nuclear attempt against the US more likely, the film argues, because any attack would result in an overwhelming nuclear retaliation from the U.S. anyway.  The film buys the argument that Kim only wants to stay in power as the third member of a family dynasty.  He got fat to fill it. But I do wonder about the dominoes. 
An E-3 EMP, if pulled off, could so cripple the US that Communist or radical Islamist groups could later land and rule by force.

It seems clear that North Korea has shown how dangerous asymmetry can be in the modern world.

It seems to me that there is a real risk that Kim uses EMP if he hasn't yet mastered the re-entry problem but has mastered exploding a device in flight before landing.  That could be the case already or soon, early in 2018.  That makes pre-emption right now dangerous for America directly as well as Korean peninsula.  Lindsey Graham is wrong in saying the war would stay in their backyard if we fought it now. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

"America Lights Out": Christian group expands on Ted Koppel's expose of EMP threat

There are a lot of YouTube videos ought there now predicting that North Korea can kill 90% of the US population with a thermonuclear EMP attack.   I do see some Fox vides at least six months old addressing North Korea’s possible EMP threat, so the recent article last week may not be as surprising.

VFNTv appears to be a conservative evangelical Christian media group. I won’t get into theology, but at least their 24 minute film put up in mid November makes “America Lights Out” does a respectable job of referencing Ted Koppel’s 2015 book “Lights Out” (Book reviews Nov. 10, 2015).

An E1 attack (which can be done with a smaller fission device or even non-nuclear microwave flux) sounds more likely than the thermonuclear E3. 

The US might be able to knock out a lot of North Korea’s missile capability with its own stealth microwave weapons, but the North Korean infrastructure seems to be largely hidden and underground (maybe with Faraday shields).
But we still don’t see the major “mainstream” news broadcasting channels (including CNN and Vox) quite ready to discuss this threat openly yet.  That needs to change. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

"EMP Myths Debunked and your EMP Questions answered by Dr. Arthur T. Bradley", from Reluctant Preppers

Reluctant Preppers sponsors a 54-minute video interview by Dunagan Kaiser of NASA’s Dr. Arthur T.  Bradley ("Disaster Preparer") on the EMP threat.  Reluctant Preppers has ties to Patreon which also sponsors "Strange Mysteries". 

Bradley suggests that an attack could be more insidious than generally proposed.

Devices that are powered off may be less vulnerable than those in use.  Maybe 25% of cars would stall on the highway with some attacks (sounds like E1). But that could cause real mayhem. Because the attack would be unprecedented and irregular and hard to assess at first, a power like North Korea might be able to “get away with it” for a while.

He describes an “experiment” that occurred in Kazakhstan and caused a power plant go to on fire.
Solar systems might be partially susceptible to EMP.

He talks about the rather remote threat to heart pacemakers.

He explains the difference between a solar storm, which is largely E3, with a typical EMP which might be largely E1 unless thermonuclear weapons were used.

It is not likely that an effective EMP could be detonated from an airplane.

Bradley suggests that an enemy like North Korea could try more than one kind of attack in a short time period.
“The Survival Mom” on Facebook shared this video.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

"ISIS in America": Diane Sawyer hosts ABC 20-20 report she has been developing for over a year

On Friday November 3, 2017 ABC 20-20 and Diane Sawyer broadcast “ISIS in America”.  This broadcast is bound to get some official attention in Congress. A couple of the main links are (one) (two). Variety has coverage of the episode here

(To see the ABC embed below, you may need to turn off https on your browser.) 

Much of the narrative concerns the case of Justin Sullivan in North Carolina (in Morganton), who grew up Catholic (was not an immigrant and not a Muslim) but was recruited.   Justin’s father was a Marine and turned him in.

ISIS “gave him a place to belong”.  But his perception had to do with a “death cult” and feeling “powerless”.  One of the videos promises “no more humiliation” for “losers”.   This seems to have to do with the idea that in an open society where anyone can “show off” gratuitously online without supervision, some will win and some will lose (just like in sports). That’s just a consequence of logic (or "going to the root" as I  used to say as a boy).       
Charlotte Observer story on Justin’s case;  CBS News story.

Part 3 of the ABC report mentions radiation detectors in New York City (and biological) which are also used in ports.   Part 3 also deals with the “dark web” and right wing extremists as well as jihadism. There was talk of “hastag hijacking”.   It talks about “content war” (even hijacking “Game of Thrones”).  Sawyer visits the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma, and the stories of two honor students who fell into the trap.

Part 4 talks about targeting involving possibly Pamela Geller.   A defendant was “fat, failed and a complete idiot”.

There is some coverage of Sayfullo Saipov, who had planned is truck attack for weeks.  Trump says Saipov was a point of contact for 23 other questionable immigrants from Uzbekistan.

Part 5 talks about a mosque in Miami that sheltered everyone during Hurricane Irma.

Update: Nov. 6

The New York Times has an important piece by Jim Rutenberg, the "Mediator", "A How-t on Terror I as Close as a Click: (print) or "Terrorism is faster than Twitter" (online). The links in this story need to be followed closely.

Friday, November 03, 2017

CBS 60 Minutes reviews North Korean threat with visit to USAF center near Dayton, Ohio

David Martin reports on North Korea’s Nuclear Threat on CBS 60 Minutes on Oct. 29. 

The report, for the first time ever, showed the innards of an Air Force command center near or at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where North Korean missiles are studied and NORAD defense is simulated.

The upshot is that North Korea probably does not have a heat shield that can survive reentry on an ICBM capable of reaching the US, but is likely to have it by some time in 2018.

The broadcast showed some shorter range SCUD missiles capable of hitting South Korea or Japan. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"North Korea 'Decoders' Are Sounding Alarms": from "Moving Upstream"

Moving Upstream, a series, from the Wall Street Journal, has an 11-minute short film in early October, 2017,  “North Korea ‘Decoders’ Are Sounding Alarms”.

Jason Bellini, who I believe traveled with Marines during the war in Iraq, reports.  The film presents a technology group in Silicon Valley, the Middlebury Group, which uses “open source” to re-simulate all the calculations that would be done by the CIA at Langley regarding North Korean missiles.

The group reaches the alarming conclusion that North Korea could probably reach the US with a nuclear weapon even now, and that it will not be possible to force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
The film also notes the possibility of horizontal mounting of weapons inside tunnels, which makes them very hard to destroy.  Some nukes are probably pre-loaded, which would make revenge strikes against the US possible even if Kim Jong Un is removed by force.   But then how good is NORAD?