North Korea’s nuclear weapons program continues to hurtle forward at a frightening pace, with the regime unveiling plans for a weapon intended specifically to strike across most of the United States.

Rather than place a nuclear blast inside a metropolitan area, this new electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, weapon is designed to explode high in the atmosphere over America.

The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz, an expert on national defense and East Asia, reports:

The official communist party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, published a report Monday on “the EMP might of nuclear weapons,” outlining an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack produced by detonating a nuclear warhead in space.

“In general, the strong electromagnetic pulse generated from nuclear bomb explosions between 30 kilometers and 100 kilometers [18.6 miles and 62 miles] above the ground can severely impair electronic devices, electric machines, and electromagnetic grids, or destroy electric cables and safety devices,” said the article authored by Kim Songwon, dean of Kim Chaek University of Technology in Pyongyang.

“The discovery of the electromagnetic pulse as a source of high yield in the high-altitude nuclear explosion test process has given it recognition as an important strike method,” he stated…

…EMP was discovered by the U.S. military during above ground nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean during the 1960s.

EMP waves produced from nuclear tests were found to disrupt electronics throughout areas up to 1,000 miles from the center of the blast.

American defense experts have been warning of the threat posed by North Korea’s EMP weapons ability.

Among them is former CIA Director James Woolsey.

“North Korea appears to be attempting to implement the information warfare doctrine described above by developing a long range missile capable of making a catastrophic nuclear EMP attack on the United States.  In December 2012, North Korea demonstrated the capability to launch a satellite on a polar orbit circling the Earth at an altitude of 500 kilometers,” Woolsey wrote back in July of 2013.

“An altitude of 500 kilometers would be ideal for making an EMP attack that places the field over the entire contiguous 48 United States, using an inaccurate satellite warhead for delivery, likely to miss its horizontal aimpoint over the geographic center of the U.S. by tens of kilometers,” Woolsey noted, pointing out how easily North Korea could carry out such an attack.

And an EMP attack could easily prove more deadly or destructive than a conventional nuclear attack on a major city.

While a conventional attack would bring total destruction and widespread, immediate death to hundreds of thousands inside a targeted area, an EMP attack would cripple communications, navigation and computer systems over virtually the entire continental United States.

It would also knock out the American electrical power grid, which is woefully unprepared for an EMP attack.

“Cars could lose power and drift to a stop. Planes in the air could lose power and begin a rapid powerless decent towards the earth. Trains could lose power and coast to a stop. Anything with a microchip could be dead,” notes Printus LeBlanc, a contributing reporter at Americans for Limited Government and an expert on defense and security issues.

“This includes HVTs [the high voltage tranformers that regulate the entire American energy grid,]” LeBlanc writes.

“A large device detonated 400-500km above Kansas would affect all within the continental U.S. 200 million people could die in a year without water and electricity.”

That appears to be North Korea’s new contingency plan.

An EMP attack on the US doesn’t need to be accurately targeted, and can be accomplished with a weapon that detonates before it descends to a point where many U.S. missile defense systems could intercept it.

And while it lacks the instant psychological image of a major American city being consumed in a fireball, it could kill exponentially more people.