• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Protect and Defend the U.S. from EMP Threat

    The United States could find itself in a precarious position much worse than the recent D.C. earthquake if attacked by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon. An EMP would  cause current and voltage surges and burn out the semi-conductor chips of all electronic devices within the line of sight. A single nuclear weapon detonated at a high altitude has the potential to instantly send the United States back to the 19th century. The Heritage Foundation recently devoted one of its public events to this important issue. As James Carafano, Baker Spring, and Richard Weitz argue, despite the EMP Commission’s 2004 and 2008 recommendations, hardly any progress has been made in protecting the country from the consequences of an EMP attack.

    A long-range ballistic missile shot from Iran, Russia, China, or North Korea could deliver a nuclear payload to an altitude high enough to cause an EMP blast. Less technologically challenging short-range nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, launched from vessels such as freighters, tankers, or container ships off U.S. shores, could cause an EMP effect.

    The best way to address the EMP threat is to build a robust missile defense system, comprised primarily of Aegis ballistic missile defense capable ships; Aegis Ashore, a land-based missile defense component; and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capabilities. So far, the Obama Administration’s record is questionable. It has made massive cuts to the U.S. missile defense program and cancelled some of the most promising programs.

    An EMP could be inflicted without an organized group behind it. With the right equipment, a lone terrorist could cause a blackout of a city—and he would not even need a nuclear weapon. The EMP effect can also be created during an electromagnetic solar storm—known as a Carrington effect—and could impact the grid the same way as a nuclear weapon.

    It is imperative for the United States to prepare for an EMP attack. For about $200 million, the United States can harden the major transformers associated with major metropolitan areas. This relatively minor investment could save millions of American lives.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Protect and Defend the U.S. from EMP Threat

    1. Bobbie says:

      this government doesn't think too many things through in regard to "our" protection!!
      Didn't some nitwit in the democratic party suggest wrapping plastic around ones house?

    2. Chris says:

      Ahh, but then we would miss the sublime, utterly "green" result of all of that nasty carbon-belching, planet-killing technology and industry being finally dead, dead, dead at long last!! Why, it would be an eco-extremist's wet dream fulfilled. Mother Gaia would be finally vidicated!

      Never mind the resulting "carbon footprints" of all of those wood-and-other-things fires with which the survivors woudl be heating their hovels and cooking their wonderous, locally-grown veggie meals.

      Ya can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs, now, can ya?

    3. RTH says:

      Here is a simple idea; I've been pushing for a while, not for money, but safety. I'll quote myself from a recent email (a question asked of an associate in telecommunications regarding a singularity devise, to tie the world together):

      "Is there anyone in the industry developing a cloud like “neuro-grid” yet? Where each wireless device becomes a re-transmitter when cell tower fails, or when towers are beyond range? To be used primarily for texting data, and emergency com etc. Maybe get this idea moving along? …could save lives. If Heritage is talking about it, it’s no longer just a fanciful elaboration of my neurosis.

      A small phone case/sleeve with integrated solar battery … just set phone in window to recharge. Of course the device would have to be EMP 'shielded'."

      and his reply:


      Check out bluesocket.com

      Smart grid wireless communications as well…

      Alcatel Lucent/Bell Labs developed the Light Radio which will be Cloud based management…"

    4. MasterRat says:

      The EMP threat has existed since the detonation of the first nuclear device. It has nothing to do with where the device is detonated, but rather how. The bit this article misses is that the North Korean designs are specifically intended to produce a pronounced EMP effect. And it is North Korea that is providing technology to countries like Iran.

      The "where the detonation" occurs comes into play when you consider the "range" of the pulse. As the detonation moves up in altitude, the amount of ground exposed to the pulse increases.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.