As if there wasn’t enough problems to be concerned about in today’s world, an additional threat which is not normally discussed in terms of national security — a nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack — was discussed yesterday (Oct. 12, 2017) at a congressional hearing before the US House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency.
Among other presenters at the hearing, members of the Comission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack presented testimony which is reported in this document http://docs.house.gov/meetings/HM/HM09/20171012/106467/HHRG-115-HM09-Wstate-PryP-20171012.pdf. The Commission treats the threat of an EMP attack from North Korea on the United States as very serious and recommends that the US Government takes action, both immediate and long-term to both prevent such an attack in the first place, and also take steps to minimize adverse effects should such an attack actually take place.
In addition to using military actions to protect against EMP attacks, the document points out on the vulnerability of the US electrical grids “the keystone critical infrastructure upon which all other critical infrastructures depend”, and recommends that key elements of the grid be protected against the possibility of an EMP attack, doing the same for communications system.
It’s not a pleasant topic to dwell upon. The commission report cites Ambassador Henry Cooper, former Director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative who stated in 2016:
North Korea doesn’t need an ICBM to create this existential threat. It could use its demonstrated satellite launcher to carry a nuclear weapon over the South Polar region and detonate it…over the United States to create a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP)…The result could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans—as the EMP Commission testified over eight years ago.
As we have discussed here before, modern civilization is dependent upon electricity for survival. Take that away and society breaks down quickly. And there’s not just the military threat. Very severe solar storms could cause similar havoc to the electrical, communications and satellite systems. It’s not a pleasant topic to dwell upon, but I think it’s something that requires attention and taking necessary preventative steps does seem like the prudent thing to do.