A major threat to America has been largely ignored by those who could prevent it. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack could wreak havoc on the nation’s electronic systems-shutting down power grids, sources, and supply mechanisms. An EMP attack on the United States could irreparably cripple the country. It could simultaneously inflict large-scale damage and critically limit our recovery abilities. Congress and the new Administration must recognize the significance of the EMP threat and take the necessary steps to protect against it.
EMP a real weapon?
It’s an actual technology that exists. It’s being played with in some capacity, and will potentially play a much greater role in future warfare. With the increasing importance of electronic circuits on the battlefield… There’s only more and more reason to create weapons that specifically target networking ability and electronics dependence.
An EMP is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of charged particles. In an attack, these particles interact and send electrical systems into chaos in three ways: First, the electromagnetic shock disrupts electronics, such as sensors, communications systems, protective systems, computers, and other similar devices. The second component has a slightly smaller range and is similar in effect to lightning. Although protective measures have long been established for lightning strikes, the potential for damage to critical infrastructure from this component exists because it rapidly follows and compounds the first component. The final component is slower than the previous two, but has a longer duration. It is a pulse that flows through electricity transmission lines-damaging distribution centers and fusing power lines. The combination of the three components can easily cause irreversible damage to many electronic systems
Will a real EMP weapon work ?
Well, an EMP overloads whatever weak circuits it can manage to overload, and basically destroys them, requiring that they be replaced by new electronic components to make that system functional again. Those might have the capacity to absorb an EMP, or work their way through that surge, and be operational again.
So how scared should we be? I wasn’t sure, so I contacted a military analyst at the global intelligence firm Stratfor, the exquisitely named Sim Tack, to find out if we all need to buy EMP-proof iPhone cases, or whether EMPs are something we can put off studying until Skynet comes online.
Has the US entertained the idea of making EMP weapons?
Yes. That’s definitely something the US has looked into. EMPs were recognized as an effect of using nuclear weapons during test launches in the sixties. As with any type of natural force that is discovered, it became, “Hey, we can actually try and harness this power for military means.”
And have other countries built them?
Different countries have experimented with EMPs. Russia has. There was some stuff in the media recently about North Korea getting some EMP technology from Russia, although that technology is somewhat limited. But the general idea of using EMPs in warfare? That’s not just limited to the US.
The ongoing war over the control of the financial system, and thus control over the future of the planet, is reaching a dangerous crescendo, multiple sources agree. Most significantly, the U.S. military distracted world attention last week with a fake feud between U.S. President Donald Trump and his former consiglieri Steve Bannon while they used SpaceX to launch their secret Zuma satellite, Pentagon sources say.
This ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) satellite was launched as the U.S. government’s January 31st payment deadline looms, and will be used against North Korea, the sources say. Since North Korea is a proxy and is really too analog to be affected by an EMP attack, this is clearly a veiled threat at the Swiss controllers who hollowed out the U.S. and built up China. Please note that the Western secret government uses the movements of celestial bodies to time major geo-political events, and that January 31st is going to be the date of the first combination blue moon, supermoon, and lunar eclipse in 150 years.
An EMP attack on the United States could materialize in two forms: nuclear and non-nuclear. The most devastating form, and most difficult to achieve, is an EMP that results from a nuclear weapon.
This form destroys any “unhardened” electronic equipment and electric power system- which means virtually any civilian infrastructure in the United States. The pulse occurs when a nuclear weapon explodes above the visual horizon line at an altitude between 40 and 400 kilometers.
The detonation of the nuclear warhead releases photons in the form of gamma radiation and x-rays. These energetic particles scatter in every direction away from the blast. Many of the particles descend and interact with the magnetic field lines of the Earth, where they become trapped.
The trapped electrons then create an oscillating electric current within the field, which rapidly produces a large electromagnetic field in the form of a pulse. Once the pulse reaches electronic equipment, it negatively interacts with them and either disables, damages, or destroys them.
An EMP generated by a nuclear weapon could affect all critical infrastructures that depend on electricity and electronics within the vicinity of the nuclear warhead blast radius. A nuclear weapon with a burst height of approximately 100 kilometers could expose objects located within an area 725 miles in diameter to the effects of EMP.
A non-nuclear, or improvised, EMP is a radio-frequency (rather than gamma or x-ray frequency) weapon. While easier to conceal and not requiring a missile, a non-nuclear EMP must be detonated close to the target and does not produce as much damage as the nuclear version, affecting largely localized areas.
But such a weapon could be harnessed as an “E-Bomb” (electromagnetic bomb), a stand-alone weapon that is easier to hide and maneuver. It is difficult to estimate the exact damage of an improvised attack, but in 1993 EMP testing by the U.S. military shut down engine controls 300 meters away at a contractor site. Not large-scale by any means, but damaging enough to cause concern.
During the Cold War, the U.S. military hardened its most important military systems, such as U.S. nuclear weapons systems, against EMP threats. These efforts have decreased since the end of the Cold War, despite the continued vulnerability of these systems. Presently, most efforts to counter the EMP threat are focused on initiatives to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. These efforts include programs like the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
But now, the US military is reportedly carting equipment into bunkers to shield it from EMPs. In April, some of the critical communications equipment at North American Aerospace Defense Command was moved into a bunker inside Cheyenne Mountain, a Cold War relic in Colorado that you might remember from the Matthew Broderick movie War Games.This was after the government had already disclosed a plan about a year ago to build a similar $44 million facility in Alaska for housing interceptor missiles.
A Weapon of Mass Disruption
EMP has been dubbed a “weapon of mass disruption” because of its ability to devastate its target by disrupting electronic infrastructure. The August 2003 Northeast Blackout that affected Ohio, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and parts of Canada demonstrated the potential effects of a wide-area EMP attack. During that incident, more than 200 power plants, including several nuclear plants, were shut down as a result of the electricity cutoff. Loss of water pressure led local authorities to advise affected communities to boil water before drinking due to contamination from the failure of sewage systems. Many backup generators proved unable to manage the crisis.
The day of the blackout brought massive traffic jams and gridlock when people tried to drive home without the aid of traffic lights. Additional transportation problems arose when railways, airlines, gas stations, and oil refineries also halted operations. Phone lines were overwhelmed due to the high volume of calls, while many radio and television stations went off the air. Overall, the blackout-which lasted only one day-cost $7 billion to $10 billion in spoiled food, lost production, overtime wages, and other related expenses inflicted on more than one-seventh of the U.S. population.
In the case of an EMP attack, depending on whether it is nuclear or improvised, the damage could easily prove more severe. An EMP detonation could affect car and truck engines, aircraft ignition systems, hospital equipment, pacemakers, communications systems, and electrical appliances. Road and rail signaling, industrial control applications, and other electronic systems are all susceptible to EMP. Electromagnetic energy on a radio frequency will travel through any conductive matter with which it comes into contact-from electrical wires to telephone wires, even water mains-which can spread the effects to areas far beyond ground zero.
A successful EMP attack could result in airplanes literally falling from the sky; vehicles could stop functioning, and water, sewer, and electrical networks could all fail-all at once.Food would rot, health care would be reduced to its most rudimentary level, and there would not be any transportation. Rule of law would become impossible to sustain; police departments would be overwhelmed.
Communication abilities would be limited, preventing federal, state, and local governments from communicating with one another-severely limiting abilities to shift needed resources around the country. During the 2003 blackout, some communications systems remained intact. Cars and aircraft were not directly affected and rapidly resumed operation after the electrical system recovered a few days later. In an EMP attack, however, the damage to power lines, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control systems (for utility systems infrastructure), and commercial computers would very likely be permanent due to fused power lines and lost data-which would require replacing the entire electric system in the affected area. One estimate warns that the likely costs from the detonation of an EMP weapon over the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area could exceed $770 billion. Millions of Americans could suffer death or injury, and social chaos could ensue.
The U.S. must identify the key power grid and telecommunications infrastructure that is critical to preserving our nation’s core capabilities and create a National Recovery Plan. This risk-based approach recognizes that certain infrastructure is key to recovery after an EMP attack. By taking measures to protect this infrastructure, we can lessen the recovery time from an attack.
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) “Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs,” a private company should prepare to function without electricity for a short period in order to maintain uninterrupted operations. While this time period will certainly vary by industry, encouraging the private sector to prepare in this manner and to develop company recovery plans will allow the government to focus on bringing key infrastructure back online.
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