As Kim Jong un’s North Korean regime continues to steam toward a nuclear future, a great deal of attention has been paid to the idea of a nuclear strike on U.S. soil.  It makes sense: such a strike would be the most horrific and tragic attack on America in its history, and could potentially result in a greater loss of life than any singular attack ever has before it… but among those in the know, there’s been another, more insidious threat looming on the North Korean horizon: the threat of an EMP attack.

An EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, is a byproduct of a nuclear detonation that overloads electrical circuits.  That means an EMP doesn’t simply result in a power outage, it has the potential to render electronics inert, to destroy infrastructure, and to plunge the United States back into the dark ages.  By many estimates, a single nuclear warhead could do far more damage to the U.S. in the form of an EMP attack than it could with a ground (or near ground) based detonation – so desperate is our society’s reliance on power to function.

North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ri Yong Ho, who warned that North Korea’s next nuclear test may be over the Pacific, has now expanded upon that threat to include the word “atmospheric.”  Some have questioned the veracity of Ri’s statements, as they haven’t come from Kim himself as so much of North Korea’s bluster often does, but another senior North Korean official confirmed this development with CNN on Wednesday.

“The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally,” Ri Yong Pil, a senior diplomat in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said.