South Korea’s powerful new weapon is ready to deploy in the event of war breaking out against North Korea.
The nation has been developing graphite bombs, also known as blackout bombs due to the way they paralyse electrical power plants.
First used by the US during the 1990 Gulf War, blackout bombs were dropped in Iraq creating a cloud of extremely fine chemically treated carbon filaments that can cause short circuits in electrical equipment.
In 1990, then NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said:
The fact that the lights went out across 70 per cent of the country shows that Nato has its finger on the light switch in Yugoslavia.
We can turn the power off whenever we need to and whenever we want to.
At the time, the bombs came in the form of cluster bombs with their numerous ‘sub-munitions’ being about the size of drink cans.
With tensions growing between the US and North Korea, South Korea has been increasingly looking into how to improve its defensive capabilities.
Graphite bombs are a key part of this because they are not lethal to any civilian in the surrounding areas earning them the title ‘soft bombs’.
The bombs, which have been developed by South Korea’s Agency for Defence Development (ADD), will be one major element of the nation’s pre-emptive strike programme known as Kill Chain.
According to Yonhap News, a military official said:
All technologies for the development of a graphite bomb led by the ADD have been secured.
It is at the stage where we can build the bombs at any time.
When deployed, the bomb will be capable of paralysing North Korea’s power systems.
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Although the ADD have everything they now need to build the bombs, their requested 500 million won for the project from next year’s budget was rejected by the finance ministry.
However, South Korea is bringing forward the deployment of its ‘three pillars’ of national defence, Kill Chain, by three years due to the growing threat of Kim Jong-un’s North Korea.
The programme was originally scheduled to be in place by the mid-2020s but with World War 3 seemingly around the corner, Seoul has had to revise this timeline.
Kill Chain has been designed to detect incoming missiles and then intercept them in the shortest amount of time possible.
Operating in conjunction with the Korea Air and Missile Defence system, Seoul will also launch attacks against targets in North Korea if they believe the nation is planning to deploy a nuclear weapon.
This final component of the programme is called the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation plan.
When the bombs were used in Iraq during the Gulf War, around 85 per cent of the country’s electrical supply was knocked out.
NATO used similar weapons again against Serbia in May 1999, this time damaging around 70 per cent of the nation’s electrical supply.
Although we do not know yet how effective these new ones will be against targets in North Korea, analysts believe they will work well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.