F. Michael Maloof, staff writer for WND and G2Bulletin, is a former senior security policy analyst in the office of the secretary of defense.More ↓Less ↑
If North Korea were to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States, it could use a long-range missile to orbit a satellite over the South Pole, putting it in line to fly over Omaha, Neb., and explode it at a 300-mile altitude where U.S. Aegis anti-ballistic missile systems cannot reach, sources have told WND.
In addition, these sources say, there is no way to determine whether a missile is carrying a dummy or real nuclear warhead, obviating the need to shoot down any missile that is launched from North Korea, given the public warning by Pyongyang that it intends to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the U.S.
The U.S. has positioned Aegis ships near North Korea and Japan, but a political decision apparently has been made not to attempt to shoot it down if it is heading for open water.
Sources say, however, that a missile to be launched toward the U.S. would take a trajectory over the South Pole, and it is questionable whether the U.S. has Aegis assets anywhere along the southerly path such a missile would take.
In addition, the missile would need to be shot down almost after lift-off, since the missile would launch the satellite relatively quickly into an orbit of 300 miles, which was the altitude of its satellite launch last December.
North Korea, meanwhile, announced in a statement that it has drawn the “arrows” for “merciless retaliatory strikes” at the U.S. mainland, U.S. military bases in the Pacific and “all other bases where the U.S. imperialist aggression forces station.
“The powerful strike means of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] have been put in their places and the coordinates of targets put into the warheads,” a North Korean statement said. “Just pressing the button will be enough to turn the strongholds of the enemies into the sea of fire.”
“North Korea in December successfully orbited a satellite weighing 220 pounds – so they could deliver against the United States, or against any nation on Earth, a small nuclear warhead,” said Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, who served as staff director on the a commission that looked into the effects of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, on the national electrical grid system and other critical U.S. infrastructures.
“A nuclear weapon designed specifically to generate a powerful electromagnetic pulse, or EMP – a single such ‘super-EMP’ warhead would be able to collapse the U.S. electric grid and other critical infrastructures, inflicting catastrophic consequences on the entire nation – would probably be deliverable by North Korea’s so-called ‘space launch vehicle’ over the United States,” said Pry, who also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. “North Korea orbited its satellite on a trajectory and at an altitude ideal for making an EMP attack on the U.S.”
Pry pointed out that South Korean military intelligence has warned not only their government but also the U.S. that North Korea is developing super-EMP warheads with Russian help.
In 2011, Pry pointed out, a military commentator with the People’s Republic of China stated that North Korea has super-EMP warheads. Data from North Korea’s nuclear tests, he said, are consistent with a super-EMP warhead.
Pry’s comments echo those of former U.S. Ambassador Henry Cooper, in which he said that North Korea could launch a nuclear weapon on a satellite, similar to satellites North Korea has previously launched southward over the South Pole.
“After all,” Cooper said in an interview with WND, “their previous satellites have been successfully placed in orbits that are optimum for executing an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack on the entire continental U.S. with a single nuclear burst.”
Cooper, chairman of the board of High Frontier, which is dedicated to warning the U.S. against a missile attack, developed the framework for President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. He also pushed for a workable missile defense system for the U.S. and later became director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization under President George W. Bush.
Cooper pointed out that the satellite carrying a nuclear warhead could be detonated at an altitude of 300 miles. With a detonation over Omaha, he said, it would blanket the entire continental United States with EMP effects, the consequences of which could, within a year, lead to the death of hundreds of millions of Americans and end our way of life.”
Other sources have indicated that the 220-pound satellite would be able to carry a 300 kiloton nuclear bomb, similar to the weight of warheads on U.S. missiles and would be sufficient to create an EMP effect from coast to coast if exploded at 300 miles above Omaha.
“North Korea, Iran and everyone else understands these points – or certainly should if they have been awake,” Cooper said. “But have they connected the dots?”
Cooper said that if the satellite with a nuclear weapon in it were to come from the southern hemisphere, there may not be sufficient warning and tracking information to support an intercept attempt before North Korea detonates its nuclear device over Omaha.
He said North Korea could launch a nuclear weapon on a satellite, similar to satellites North Korea has previously launched southward over the South Pole.
“After all, their previous satellites have been successfully placed in orbits that are optimum for executing an electromagnetic pulse attack on the entire continental U.S. with a single nuclear burst,” Cooper said.
“Our current defense is focused on an attack from the north but if the attack came from the south via satellite, it might not be capable of intercepting the satellite before North Korea detonates its device,” Cooper warned.
“Moreover,” he added, “where there are disputes about whether North Korean ballistic missiles launched in a normal ballistic trajectory have sufficient range to reach the U.S. mainland, there can be no dispute about whether a nuclear weapon on a satellite can be detonated on orbit above the United States – or anywhere else on the surface of the earth.”