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EMP threat shows need for space-based defenses

Posted By F. Michael Maloof On 06/01/2013 @ 7:11 pm In Front Page,U.S.,World | No Comments

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WASHINGTON – The United States needs to revive programs to build space-based defense systems – those programs that went into hibernation in the late 1980s – to guard against the prospect of an electromagnetic pulse stemming from a space-borne nuclear high-altitude explosion, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Such a blast could prompt an immediate shutdown of the U.S. national grid system and cause catastrophic consequences for more than half of the U.S. population.

Former U.S. Ambassador Henry Cooper, who once headed the Strategic Defense Initiative office under President George H. W. Bush, said that a revival of space-based defense systems patterned after the Brilliant Pebbles program that was part of the SDI program in 1989 would be an effective long-term defense against a missile attack from North Korea.

The concern is that North Korea has shown an ability to orbit a satellite which, in effect, would be a nuclear weapon that could be detonated from an altitude of 150 miles to 300 miles above the United States. That could release an EMP that could effectively knock out the electrical grid system, all unguarded electronic components and unprotected automated control systems.

Brilliant Pebbles was to be a space-based weapon that would allow the U.S. to target objects from an altitude ordinary conventional weapons could not achieve.

The problem with such a system, critics say, is that it would be vulnerable to anti-satellite weapons which China has been developing.

Cooper, who in 1990 became the SDI director, sought to obtain funding for Brilliant Pebbles to make it an essential part of the U.S. missile defense program, which it was for a time, with research and development of new technologies to meet the challenges of constructing a space-borne missile defense system.

However, the budget for Brilliant Pebbles was slashed during the Clinton administration and the program essentially died.

President George W. Bush never resurrected the program and decided on ground-based defense systems instead of space-based interceptors.

A revival of Brilliant Pebbles, Cooper said, would “provide unique capabilities for shooting down ballistic missiles in their boost phase.”

Cooper pointed to the recent threat from North Korea to launch a pre-emptive nuclear weapon attack on the U.S. He said it could be done by launching a missile with a nuclear warhead over a South Pole route, orbiting the nuclear weapon as a satellite and deorbiting it on command above the U.S.

This approach isn’t new, as former CIA Director James Woolsey testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21. He said the approach was similar to an approach the Soviet Union developed during the Cold war called the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, or FOBS, that used a space launch vehicle designed to carry a nuclear warhead southward.

It initially would go away from the U.S. but deliver a warhead on a satellite on a south polar orbit.

This approach, he added, is well known not only to North Korea and Russia but also Iran and China.

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