Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is the latest buzzword coming from North Korea. The subject of EMP was revealed in James Bond 007 GoldenEye when Xenia Onnatop stole a helicopter and helped detonate ‘Petya’ over Sevrenaya. Anything with an electric circuit would be rendered unusable. Japanese breakfast programs were talking about what EMP might do if Kim Jong Un detonated a nuke at low altitude. Don’t forget the bomb dropped on Hiroshima exploded at 500ft. The impacts are greater.
The reality of EMP is more relevant in space. Much of the US military backbone comes from a vast array of spy and military satellites which help smart bombs and cruise missiles hit targets with such precision and connectivity between land, sea and sky. Much of the modern US satellite hardware is EMP resistant but it isn’t “bulletproof” to space junk. If Kim was able to detonate a nuke in space it could knock out some of the network. Apart from the billions invested in satellites we need to understand just how seriously America regards space as a sanctuary. Around 5 years ago the Chinese fired a missile to shoot down one of their older satellites. Apart from the advancement in Chinese technology which was of concern to the US it was also the amount of space junk from floating schrapnel that could damage US assets in space. If Kim hits satellites in low orbit he also risks taking out Russian and Chinese satellites too.
Remember when Reagan spoke of Star Wars in the 1980s? The point to weaponise space such that rogue enemy ICBMs could be taken out in the outer atmosphere.
The point here is simple. Should Kim threaten to drop an H-Bomb on Tokyo he leaves such a massive exposure to himself. US satellites remain active and he would be squashed in no time by military reprisals. There would be no way that China could stand by and back him were he to make such an attack.
The more disturbing point here is that he is rattling a sabre which is bearing ever closer to a line where the West is forced to take action to prevent his rogue status from having proper fangs. War on the Korean Peninsula is not an impossibility and the more the US chain is yanked the higher the likelihood action is taken. Markets aren’t pricing this.