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WASHINGTON D.C.—North Korea’s threat to attack specific targets in Hawaii and the continental United States has some United States officials worried that the communist nation will use its “space launch vehicle” to launch a nuclear weapon high overhead the U.S. mainland and explode it, creating a high-altitude EMP effect which could take down most of the U.S. power grid.
Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s 28-year-old leader, has his strategic rocket forces on standby to fire at U.S. targets and he has specifically named Hawaii, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Austin, Texas in his strike plan.
The brash leader declared the U.S.’s decision to send two B-2 stealth bombers to participate in U.S.-South Korean military readiness exercises a “reckless and hostile act.” He said the inclusion of the bombers in the exercise showed Washington’s hostile intent.
According to a statement by the North Korean news agency, KCNA, “[Kim Jong-un] finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets, ordering them to be on standby to fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea.”
Secretary of State Chuck Hagel has condemned North Korea’s decision to abandon the 1953 armistice between North and South Korea and putting it’s forces on high alert with threats of nuclear attack against the U.S. The North Koreans have also put out three videos in recent weeks detailing nuclear strikes on U.S. targets. And while there are some Aegis anti-missile systems deployed along the West Coat, Hagel has ordered additional systems put in place. They will not be operational until 2017, however.
U.S. officials are convinced that North Korea was successful in recent tests of a missile with a miniature nuclear weapon attached. Should the Koreans use a polar trajectory for its missile launch, it would be out of the reach of U.S. anti-missile systems and would place the entire U.S. infrastructure of communications, energy, food and water, and space delivery systems at risk.
A little-known U.S. Army War College study  has concluded that a nuclear detonation above a U.S. city could destroy the electrical grid for hundreds, and possibly thousands, of miles around. People like former presidential candidate and House Speaker Newt Gingrich have been warning about this possibility for years, but the government has made little effort to harden the United States’ electrical infrastructure or those systems that depend on it against any sort of threat.
In analyzing North Korea’s long-range missile sites, officials are seeing increased activity. One South Korean official stated, “North Korea’s launch sites to fire off mid- and long-range missiles have recently shown increased movement of vehicles and forces. We are closely watching possibilities of missile launches.”