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The United States has opened the door to a possible nuclear attack from North Korea simply by failing to address the possibility that the nation’s electrical grid could be compromised – or collapsed – by an electromagnetic pulse.
That’s according to F. Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst in the office of the secretary of defense and senior writer for WND.
He has written “A Nation Forsaken,” which describes how an EMP event – either a naturally occurring solar flare or a deliberate attack through an airborne nuclear explosion, could incapacitate the United States.
Reports confirmed that in December, North Korea lofted a satellite into Earth orbit, and the hermit nation claimed its launch was meant to advance its space program.
Experts in the United States, however, point out that an intercontinental ballistic missile is a step before a space launch.
“Any space-launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles, as well as SLV technologies, and they’re all virtually identical and interchangeable,” said State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland recently.
Further, the rogue nation has announced plans for a pending nuclear test, following tests in 2006 and 2009 that drew worldwide condemnation.
Maloof warned that the U.S. is heavily dependent on its electrical grid, dangerously dependent, in fact.
“Our nation has critical dependency … upon electrical components. …It would cause cascading failures of these infrastructures,” he told the Heritage audience. “The larger the outage, the more dramatic the effects will be.”
He bottom line is the future of the U.S., he said.
“The effects could be irreversible,” he said.
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He's explained that the nation's food, fuel and communications systems are dependent on electricity, and an extended outage could leave tens of millions without heat, and without food, for weeks, months or even years.
"The number of people qualified to repair [the electrical] damage is minimal," he said.
The solution isn't unreachable, however, he said, citing basic protections to the system that could be installed.
"Much more emphasis must be given by Congress and President Obama...the threat of EMP transcends politics," he said. "Our military relies 99% on electronics."
He said the work should begin at the local level.
"It needs to be a bottom-up, rather than top-down effort....a revival of states rights, since the federal government has failed to act," he said. "Governors need to revive state civil defense locations from the '50s."
He said his book is a call to action – before it's too late.
Maloof's book documents how leading scientists and other experts have warned for years that the nation's electrical grid system and other critical infrastructures are vulnerable.
The dangers come both from a natural solar flare, and the explosion of even a rudimentary nuclear device in the atmosphere over the U.S. Both would generate an electromagnetic pulse signal that could take down huge sections of the American electric grid.
He reports it was just a few years ago when a congressional commission raised questions about the consequences to the nation's electricity-dependent infrastructures. Not only would the power grid itself be threatened, but also telecommunications, the banking and finance system, the transportation system that delivers food and water and the fuel needed for homes as well as the military systems that maintain national security.
But he reports Congress essentially has ignored its own commission report, wasting valuable time in confronting the threat.
Maloof argue that while an EMP event on civilian infrastructure could be serious, it can be managed if government at the federal, state and local levels gives appropriate priority to preventative action.
Maloof has almost 30 years of federal service in the U.S. Defense Department and as a specialized trainer for border guards and Special Forces in countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia.
While with the Department of Defense, Maloof was director of technology security operations. He headed a 10-person team that halted the diversion of militarily critical technologies to countries of national security and proliferation concern and sponsors of terrorism.
His office was the liaison to the intelligence and enforcement community within the secretary of defense's office in halting transfers and using cases that developed from them as early warnings to policy-makers.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States, Maloof was detailed back to report directly to the undersecretary of defense for policy to prepare analysis of worldwide terrorist networks, determine their linkages worldwide and their relationship to state sponsors.
Regarding the natural threat, he explains there already is a massive sunspot identified as AR1654 that is spewing solar flares.
Scientists from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration say this reveals the potential for a solar storm maximum as the sun approaches the height of its latest 11-year cycle this year and next.
Flares are expected to continue into 2020.
These scientists say that if Earth gets a direct hit from one of these solar flares – some of which can be up to four times the size of Earth – the damage could be enormous.
The United States alone would sustain damages up to $2 trillion the first year to the nation's electric grid-dependent critical infrastructures. In addition, it could leave some 160 million people – more than half the population of the United States – starving because of the collapse of food and fuel delivery systems.
In addition, it could take from four to 10 years to recover.
They say they would expect high casualties because of America's dependence on electric power, electronics and digital telecommunications and information networks.
One of the key problems could be with SCADAs – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Data systems, or automated control systems – which control large sections of industry and commerce. There are thousands in use across the U.S.
He reports all of these systems are vulnerable to an EMP attack, which also could come from a high-altitude nuclear explosion. His book warns that even a crude device launched from a freighter off the shores of the U.S. could inflict similar damage.
Whether by storm or by attack, the resulting power surges from solar particles could blow out huge transformers which take a long time to replace, even under normal circumstances. In addition, such large transformers no longer are made in the United States but come from abroad. Private utilities do not keep spares of these large transformers due to their tremendous cost.
The situation would be especially precarious for the nation if hundreds would be destroyed, and need replacement, all at once.
NASA estimates that if Earth had a direct hit from a solar flare, the U.S. could lose some 350 such large transformers which would take years to replace.
"Collateral effects of a longer-term outage would likely include, for example, disruption of the transportation, communication, banking, and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration," according to NASA. "The resulting loss of services for a significant period of time in even one region of the country could affect the entire nation and have international impacts as well."