• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Not Even a Hurricane Is as Bad as an EMP Attack

    Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast and left more than 6 million homes and businesses without power. Transportation services were disrupted as a result of the hurricane. More than a million people got an idea of what it would be like if the United States were 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. An EMP is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of charged particles caused by nuclear weapons, non-nuclear weapons (radio-frequency weapons), or geomagnetic storms (often called space weather).

    The most dangerous “EMP scenario” is a nuclear weapon attack. The higher the altitude of a nuclear weapon detonation, the larger the area that is impacted by the EMP. A single nuclear weapon has the potential to instantly send the United States back to the 19th century. Such an attack would likely cause millions of casualties, as basic elements necessary to sustain life in dense urban and suburban communities would not be available.

    Because the altitude of the detonation matters, the most effective delivery mechanism for an EMP weapon is a ballistic missile. From long-range missiles currently under development in North Korea and Iran—and already possessed by Russia and China—to short-range nuclear-tipped missiles launched from vessels, submarines, or container ships off the U.S. coast, the United States remains vulnerable to an EMP attack.

    To address this threat, it is essential to expand the ballistic missile protection of the U.S. homeland. A system better than the current one would be comprised 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.

    In addition, for about $200 million, the United States can harden the major transformers close to major metropolitan areas. This relatively minor investment could save millions of American lives and should be appropriated despite the current fiscal constraints.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Not Even a Hurricane Is as Bad as an EMP Attack

    1. Barbareebob says:

      The worst thing about a huge national debt is we don't have the money to plan for an EMP. Talk about being thrust into the dark ages. So many would be in peril. Especially large cities and 20 somethings who think they can't live without electronics. People need to pull their heads out of the sand. Iran would be the first country to come to mind that would want to inflict this on "the great satan".

    2. Displaced2 says:

      I am more worried about a solar storm producing EMP such as NASA oredicts in 2012-2013
      A good fiction book about the subject is Preppers Road March by Ron Foster

    3. clint says:

      I am really happy that my tax dollars will not be spent on an unworkable missile defense system. You people at HERITAGE need to learn the meaning of being a conservative. That means being fiscally conservative also.

      That said, I found little evidence of cuts to MD. Too bad.

      Did you see what happend with the latest SM3 Block Ib test? Dumb waste of money.

    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.

    ×