South Korea is ready to deploy graphite bombs – also known as “blackout bombs” – that will paralyse North Korea’s electrical power plants in the event of war breaking out on the peninsula.
Blackout bombs were first used by the United States in Iraq in the 1990 Gulf War and work by releasing a cloud of extremely fine, chemically treated carbon filaments over electrical components. The filaments are so fine that they act like a cloud, but cause short circuits in electrical equipment.
South Korea is actively looking to increase its defensive capabilitiesagainst the North and has been keen to develop graphite bombs because they are not lethal to civilians in surrounding areas.
The weapons have been developed by South Korea’s Agency for Defence Development, Yonhap news agency reported, as one element of the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike programme.
“All technologies for the development of a graphite bomb led by the ADD have been secured”, a military official said. “It is at the stage where we can build the bombs at any time”.
South Korea is bringing forward the deployment of its “three pillars” of national defence by as much as three years as a result of the growing threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development programmes.
The three-pronged strategy was originally scheduled to be in place by the mid-2020s, but North Korea’s increasingly aggressive and unpredictable behaviour has forced Seoul to revise that timeline.
The Kill Chain programme is designed to detect, identify and intercept incoming missiles in the shortest possible time and operates in conjunction with the Korea Air and Missile Defence system for lower-tier defence against inbound missiles.
The final component of the strategy is the Korea Massive Punishment & Retaliation plan, under which Seoul will launch attacks against leadership targets in North Korea if it detects signs that the regime is planning to use nuclear weapons.
Graphite bombs worked well against targets in Iraq, knocking out around 85 percent of the electrical supply across the country. NATO used similar weapons against targets in Serbia in May 1999, damaging around 70 percent of the country’s electrical supply.
Analysts believe the weapons would work well against targets in North Korea, which are likely to be obsolete and not insulated.