Threats from North Korea have taken a new dimension as the county claimed it could cause massive destruction by means of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) onslaught. If North Korea goes in for EMP instead of launching nuclear ICBMs at territories in the United States, it could cripple America for a long time because power grids would go on the blink and life would come to a standstill.

In the opinion of Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest, use of such a weapon could bring devastation. The radioactive fallout would spread over a large area and all living beings including vegetation would have to bear the brunt of the attack.

How the EMP attack could happen

Fox News reports that North Korea could carry out an EMP attack by detonating a hydrogen bomb at a high altitude. That would create the electromagnetic pulse necessary to destroy the key "infrastructure" of the United States electrical grid. The extent of damage would depend on the height from where the bomb is detonated.

According to the Fox report, if it were detonated at an altitude of around 250 miles, the "blast would destroy electronics in [sic] majority of the U.S." mainland and its effects would be felt in neighboring countries as well. The worst part is that such an attack does not rely on precision and there would be hardly any reaction time.

An expert was cited by Fox as saying that an attack of this nature would give rise to major power outages and damage the infrastructure that is vital for survival.

The extent of damage would be unpredictable and as the world is dependent on electricity for practically all activities in our day-to-day lives, it could create a world minus electricity which is unthinkable.

What are the options available?

The probable destructive power of an electromagnetic pulse was demonstrated way back in the 1960s when testing of a hydrogen bomb led to the burning out of lights in Honolulu which was located nearly 1,000 miles from the test location.

In the absence of any concrete information about the preparedness of Pyongyang, the United States will have to evolve fresh strategies to tackle the EMP threat. The U.S. will have to examine possibilities of a solution without any direct conflict. It is known that North Korea has made advancements in nuclear technology. While it is difficult to verify the claims, they cannot be ignored either because it is not right to underestimate an opponent.

Dialogue could be a way out of the impasse. There must be efforts to start a dialogue with Kim Jong-un and a sportsman like Dennis Rodman could be brought into the picture. He has indicated willingness to get involved to try to defuse the existing crisis. He has visited North Korea several times, has a good rapport with Kim Jong-un and could be roped in to act as a mediator.