A Single EMP Attack May Seriously Degrade Or Shut Down A Large Part Of The Electric Power Grid In The Geographic Area Of EMP Exposure Effective Instantaneously.

Saturday, November 4, 2017
By Paul Martin


In 1962, during the depths of the Cold War, the U.S. military exploded a nuclear weapon high above an atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Dubbed Operation Starfish, this exercise was part of a larger project to evaluate the impacts of nuclear explosions in space. The missile, launched from Johnson Island, 900 miles from Hawaii, was armed with a 1.4 megaton warhead, programmed to explode at 240 miles above the earth. It detonated as expected. What was not entirely expected was the magnitude of the resulting electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

The EMP was powerful enough to affect the electric grid in Hawaii, blowing out streetlights, and resulting in telephone outages and radio blackouts.

Dr. William Graham was active in the follow-up to the project, working out of the Air Force weapons lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After the blast, it was his job to understand the data collected, find out just what had happened in Hawaii, and what the defense implications were of this phenomenon. In a recent interview, Graham commented,

The effects were bizarre and almost entirely unanticipated. One effect was an electromagnetic pulse, but nobody knew it was going to be anywhere nearly as large it proved to be. They had all this data and they didn’t understand very much of it, including the EMPs that had been observed and the effects produced…all kinds of electrical disturbances were seen over 1000 kilometers away in Oahu. The Air Force brought in a bunch of us…and asked us to explain it. With the leadership of scientists from Los Alamos, we figured it out. It was a fairly subtle piece of physics. At that time we were worried it could be used as a precursor attack on the U.S. and suppress our retaliatory capability. Since the effect wasn’t really understood before 1962, our military systems hadn’t protected against it up to that point.

Graham then went on to become one of the nation’s leading experts on the topic, helping advise on both defensive and offensive capabilities.

We needed to protect our ballistic missiles, B1 bombers, and communications systems for command and control. A decade later I laid out the design of how you made an even stronger enhanced EMP weapon. That was almost 50 years ago.

In the 1980s, during the Reagan Administration, Dr. Graham continued to lend his expertise and became a member of the President’s Arms Control Experts Group and Science Advisor to the President.

More recently, he has shifted his focus to protecting against what he now sees as the potentially greatest existential threat to the United States: an EMP attack against our civilian infrastructure – particularly the electric power grid. He is concerned that in the last half-century since we first became aware of this issue, our increasing reliance on electronics, and hence our vulnerability, has increased tremendously.

To that end, Graham has served as Chair to both the 2001-4 and 2006-8 Commissions to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack and was a member of the Department of Defense’s Science Board and the National Academies Board on Army Science and Technology.

The Potential Consequences Are Almost Unimaginable

Graham knows what he is talking about, and his comments are not to be taken lightly.

Since then, there has been an enormous increase in our dependency on electronics, computers, and microelectronics. An attack may never happen. But the more vulnerable the U.S. is to such an attack, the more likely it is to be used against us. In the former days, we worried about Russia. Now we have to be concerned about North Korea and Iran. These could be launched from a not-so-elaborate container ship. The rocket doesn’t have to be accurate. It just has to go up. It’s well within the capability of even an earlier Scud missile, of which thousands have been produced – it just has to have a nuclear weapon on top.

Graham expressed concern that Iran also has this offensive capability within their arsenal, and perhaps within their current military doctrine as well.

We have data indicating that the Iranians have launched their versions of Scuds off of the Caspian Sea – not from land, but from the sea – and launched them over land. And we’ve also seen them launch missiles that have gone up and apparently exploded near their highest altitude – when you put those two ideas together – that is an EMP attack.

Why is this so important? Because a single missile with a warhead that actually doesn’t have to be all that large has the potential to take out the U.S. power grid, destroy our electronics networks, and create an existential crisis like nothing the world has ever witnessed.

The Rest…HERE

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