North Korea may be developing electromagnetic pulse weapons or bombs that could take out power grids — not to mention military and civilian electronics.
Such speculation comes from a Chinese military analyst's article in the journal Bauhinia, according to the Washington Times. The Chinese military pointed out that North Korea has always planned to develop small nuclear weapons capable of creating such electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) — likely targeted at South Korean and U.S. military forces based in the southern half of the Korean peninsula.
The possibility of using EMPs as a weapon arose during early days of U.S. and Soviet nuclear testing during the Cold War. Nuclear blasts from those tests created EMPs as a secondary effect that led to some unexpected damage for civilian power grids and facilities.
Several countries, such as the U.S., have also investigated the possibility of making EMP weapons that don't require nuclear blasts. But North Korea's weapon-making efforts have recently focused upon expanding its nuclear arsenal.
The Chinese military article also draws a somewhat baffling connection between North Korea's theoretical EMP weapons and GPS-jamming technology. South Korea accused North Korea of sending GPS jamming signals that affected hundreds of airline flights as well as civilian technologies on the ground in March — but such GPS jamming does not necessarily suggest any EMP weapon capabilities. [New GPS Rival Is Hack-Proof]
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.