HALIFAX - A US official is sounding the alarm over electromagnetic pulse attacks and says Canada is under threat.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a powerful pulse of gamma radiation that can hit the Earth in the form of a natural solar flare or a nuclear weapon detonated high in the atmosphere.
"Countries like Russia, Iran, North Korea, China have this weapon. We know that the North Koreans got it from the Russians," security expert Clare Lopez told Sun News Network.
Lopez served on the congressional task force on national and homeland security for the EMP threat.
"We know, as of last month, that the North Koreans are capable of staging an intercontinental ballistic missile with the range to reach the United States and Canada."
Scientists say the charged particles from an EMP event can knock out satellites at the least, and obliterate the power grid and all electronic equipment at worst.
"There are estimates made that within a year of such an event, two thirds of people affected would be dead from lack of health care, clean water, proper food, you name it," Lopez said.
With only a single warhead needed to cause a continent-wide blackout and mass suffering, Lopez says Canada and the U.S. should take action to shield the power grid.
"If the U.S. grid begins to go down ... because of the connectivity between our grids, Canada could go down, too."
Experts say that metal shielding can be constructed around power lines to redirect any radiation away from the vulnerable infrastructure.