WASHINGTON – While China calls the potential use of an EMP weapon against U.S. interests its “ace,” officials inside the American Defense Department have issued a statement that warnings of an increased threat are “reckless and irresponsible.”
WND reported only days ago that members of the Chinese military are looking to use an EMP as part of a “one-two punch” to knock out, literally within seconds, all defensive electronics not only on Taiwan but also on U.S. warships that could defend the island.
The damage would come from the electromagnetic pulse from an explosion, probably a nuclear weapon, that could be detonated at altitude over the region China wants to target. EMP damage could include a complete loss of electronics, computers, automated systems, communications, food and utility services – even transportation.
However, the Department of Defense, or DOD, in response to an inquiry from Fox News’ Bret Baier, downplayed the destructive use of an EMP.
“The Department is unaware of any increase in the threat of a deliberate destructive use of an EMP device,” the unsigned DOD statement said. “Further, any reporting to the contrary by those without access to current threat assessments is both reckless and irresponsible.”
Ironically, this latest statement is at odds with even a new report issued by DOD’s Defense Science Board, or DSB, which concludes that DOD and the intelligence community currently lack national technical means sufficient to monitor the development of foreign, including terrorist, nuclear weapons programs.
“So how does the Obama administration know that Iran does not yet have the bomb?” asked Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, who was staff director of the congressional commission that produced the 2008 report warning of the impact of an EMP on the nation’s national grid and its critical infrastructures.
Pry, who formerly worked at the Central Intelligence Agency, today serves as executive director of the congressional advisory Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
“How can DOD be so cocksure that the threat from EMP weapons is not increasing, contrary to all evidence?” Pry asked. “This is dynamite.”
The report of the DSB, whose members hold the highest security clearances with need-to-know access, said closing the nation’s global nuclear monitoring gaps should be a national priority. It added that it will require a level of “commitment and sustainment we don’t normally do well without a crisis.”
“In short, for the first time since the early decades of the nuclear era, the nation needs to be equally concerned about both ‘vertical’ proliferation, or the increase in capabilities of existing nuclear states, and ‘horizontal’ proliferation with an increase in the number of states and non-state actors possessing or attempting to possess nuclear weapons,” the report said.
“These factors … led the Task Force to observe that monitoring for proliferation should be a top national security objective – but one for which the nation is not yet organized or fully equipped to address,” the DSB said.
The report said monitoring to support treaties is but one part of the overall requirement that should be driven by monitoring for proliferation.
This broader scope, the report said, presents challenges for which current solutions are either inadequate, or more often, do not exist. Among these challenges are monitoring of:
- Small inventories of weapons and materials, even as low as a single “significant quantity of fissile material”;
- Small nuclear enterprises designed to produce, store, and deploy only a small number of weapons – intended as a proliferant’s end goal, or as the first steps to achieve larger inventories or more sophisticated capabilities;
- Undeclared facilities and/or covert operations, such as testing below detection thresholds, or acquisition of materials or weapons through theft or purchase;
- Use of non‐traditional technologies, presenting at best ambiguous signatures, to acquire both materials and components;
- Theater nuclear forces and associated doctrine, exercises, and training complicated by the use of mobile, dual‐use delivery systems;
- Many more players to whom access by the U.S. or its allies will be limited or extremely difficult, some of whom will be globally networked with global access to relevant science and technology.
“The growing EMP threat seems to escape the Obama administration,” according to Rachel Ehrenfeld of the Washington-based American Center for Democracy.
She pointed out that as far back as September 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had warned that countries have placed ballistic missiles in ships, such as cargo, commercial ships, all over the world.
“Any given time,” Rumsfeld said at the time, “there’s any number off our coast, coming, going, on transporter-erector-launchers, and they simply erect it, fire off a ballistic missile, put it down, cover it up. Their radar signature’s not any different than 50 others in close proximity.”
Yet, Ehrenfeld said, America’s electrical power grid is more vulnerable today to the effects of an EMP, either by a sun-burst or high altitude nuclear explosion, than it was five decades ago.
Despite the most recent DOD statement that it is unaware of any increase in the threat of a “deliberate destructive use of an EMP device,” the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in late December 2013 issued a solicitation to conduct “satellite system performance modeling, satellite system response-to-environments modeling, high altitude weapons electromagnetic pulse effects modeling and disturbed atmosphere effects modeling.”
As though the left hand at DOD didn’t know what the right hand was doing, DOD has completed a review mandated by Congress in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act of potential sites for enhanced East Coast defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles.
While it took congressional action to look at closing security gaps in the U.S. missile defense system, the DOD has maintained that existing sites in California and Alaska provide sufficient protection from threats emanating from North Korea or Iran.
“The bad news is that such a site would not deal with Iran, or their terrorist surrogates, in launching ballistic missiles from off our coasts – particularly from the Gulf of Mexico, nor would it be effective in defending against nuclear weapons carried by Iranian satellites over the South Pole, so this threat is not hypothetical from a technological point of view,” Ehrenfeld said.
Ehrenfeld and other national security experts such as former Ambassador Henry Cooper, who heads High Frontier and was the first director of the Strategic Defense Initiative under President George H.W. Bush, said a fix would be to place Aegis ballistic missile defense ships in the Gulf of Mexico.
Cooper has contended that the North Koreans tend to undertake missile tests using a south polar orbit against which the U.S. does not have a missile defense, especially if the missile has an EMP nuclear device called a “super EMP,” which North Korea is thought to be developing.