Though an electromagnetic pulse attack on the U.S. would wreak havoc on the nation’s electrical grid and communication infrastructure, potentially sending the country back to the 19th century technologically, there are measures Americans can to take to prepare for such a scenario.
As WorldNetDaily and Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin reported, intelligence sources say Iran is not only covertly developing nuclear weapons, it is already testing ballistic missiles specifically designed to deliver an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack against the U.S.
Such a a missile would be delivered from a ship offshore and carry a nuclear warhead that would be detonated by a remote-control device while still in high-altitude flight. An explosion over the center of the nation would emit an electromagnetic pulse, or high-density electrical field, that would knock out electrical power and circuit boards, thus rendering the U.S. domestic communications impotent.
“An EMP acts like a stroke of lightning but is stronger, faster and shorter,” notes the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Such an attack, also known as a blackout bomb, would affect communication systems, computers, electrical appliances, and automobile and aircraft ignition systems. Though the initial impact would not harm people like a traditional nuclear bomb would, those with pacemakers or other electrical implants would likely be affected.
“A terrorist organization might have trouble putting a nuclear warhead ‘on target’ with a SCUD, but it would be much easier to simply launch and detonate in the atmosphere,” wrote Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., in the Washington Post last month. “No need for the risk and difficulty of trying to smuggle a nuclear weapon over the border or hit a particular city. Just launch a cheap missile from a freighter in international waters. …”
In testimony before the House International Terrorism and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., James Woolsey, director of the CIA from 1993 through 1995, referred to the nuclear EMP threat, characterized in intelligence circles, he said, as “a SCUD in a bucket.”
“That is a simple ballistic missile from a stockpile somewhere in the world outfitted on something like a tramp steamer and fired from some distance offshore into an American city or to a high altitude, thereby creating an electromagnetic pulse effect, which could well be one of the most damaging ways of using a nuclear weapon,” he told the committee.
“That is a very serious threat, and one thing we need badly to do is to figure out ways to harden our electricity grid and various types of key nodes so that electromagnetic pulse blasts of nuclear weapons, or other ways of generating electromagnetic pulse, even if it knocks out our toaster ovens will not knock out, for example, our electricity grid.”
Wrote the Wall Street Journal last year after the Commission to Assess the Threat to the U.S. from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack delivered its report to Congress: “No American would necessarily die in the initial attack, but what comes next is potentially catastrophic. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. Millions could die for want of modern medical care or even of starvation since farmers wouldn’t be able to harvest crops and distributors wouldn’t be able to get food to supermarkets.”
The commission recommended that critical components of civilian infrastructure be “EMP hardened.” The Journal noted most new units can be hardened for 1 percent to 3 percent of cost if done at the time of design and manufacture. Hardening existing systems can cost 10 times as much.
So how do Americans prepare for a potential EMP attack? Since the event would render electrical and communication systems inoperable, preparedness should include supplies that will allow survival without the usual comforts of home – like electricity.
For those who prepared for a Y2K scenario that predicted the demise of the electrical grid as we know it, preparing for an EMP attack will seem quite familiar. Such preparation includes putting together a typical disaster kit with food, water, medications, fuel and personal items. While the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends a disaster kit able to sustain a family for two weeks, if expert predictions are correct, recovery from an EMP attack could take months or even years.
A basic disaster kit should include:
- Water – store one gallon per day per person. A non-electrical water filter capable of safely filtering river or lake water also could be used.
- Food – canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking or water – and include a hand can opener.
- Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries – which would not be affected by an EMP attack.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- First aid kit and manual.
- Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).
- Matches and waterproof container.
- Extra clothing.
- Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils.
- Cash and coins.
- Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions and hearing aid batteries.
- Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
- Other items to meet your unique family needs.
For those Americans in cold climates, extra clothing and blankets could be useful, especially for those whose heat is dependent on electricity or other fuel delivered by local utilities.
Since power could be down for an extended period of time, a generator could prove useful – another item popular with those who prepared for the year 2000 scenario. Those who live “off the grid,” for example, using solar energy exclusively, would be much less vulnerable to an EMP event – at least when it comes to electrical needs.
Like with Y2K preparation, experts encourage Americans to network with neighbors to ascertain the resources available for residents to help one another should a prolonged disruption occur.