War planners in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have outlined plans to use nuclear electronic pulse attacks in the event of full-scale war, according to a recently declassified report.
The report, “Assessing the Threat from EMP Attack,” was developed from the efforts of the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack and updated by the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
An EMP is considered a threat because it could devastate America’s power grid, returning the nation to a pre-industrial-age footing that would take years to recover from.
“A long-term outage owing to EMP could disable most critical supply chains, leaving the U.S. population living in conditions similar to centuries past, prior to the advent of electric power,” the report wrote, noting that even minor damage could send the U.S. back to the 1800s for a year.
“The United States critical national infrastructure faces a present and continuing existential threat from combined-arms warfare, including cyber and manmade electromagnetic pulse attack, and natural EMP from a solar superstorm,” the report said.
The report said an EMP attack is likely to be part of a very different war than the mass combat of the past.
“Combined-arms cyber warfare, as described in the military doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, may use combinations of cyber-, sabotage-, and ultimately nuclear EMP- attack to impair the United States quickly and decisively by blacking-out large portions of its electric grid and other critical infrastructures,” the report said.
“Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber, sabotage, and EMP,” it added.
The report, which pre-dates President Donald Trump’s efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, highlighted the threat posed by North Korea and other nations like it.
“Within the last decade, newly nuclear-armed adversaries, including North Korea, have been developing the ability and threatening to carry out an EMP attack against the U.S.,” the report said. “Such an attack would give countries that have only a small number of nuclear weapons the ability to cause widespread, long-lasting damage to U.S. critical national infrastructures, to the United States itself as a viable country, and to the survival of a majority of its population.”
Although the report’s major focus was a military threat, it also noted that natural causes, such as a massive solar storm, could damage the power grid.
The report also raised the threat from terrorism.
“The U.S. electrical grid could be sabotaged by damaging extra-high-voltage transformers using rifles, explosives, or non-nuclear EMP or directed energy weapons. Attacking less than a dozen key substations could result in protracted and widespread blackout,” according to the report.
In its reporting on the new EMP warnings, the Washington Free Beacon noted that Russia and China, in particular, had publicly embraced using EMPs as part of their military doctrine for several years.
Despite this, America is unprepared to deal with an EMP attack, the report said.
“Protecting and defending the national electric grid and other critical infrastructures from cyber and EMP could be accomplished at reasonable cost and minimal disruption to the present systems that comprise U.S. critical infrastructure. This is commensurate with Trump administration plans to repair and improve U.S. infrastructures, increase their reliability, and strengthen homeland defense and military capability. Continued failure to address the U.S.’ vulnerability to EMP generated by a high-altitude nuclear weapon invites such an attack,” the report said.
The report also said that although the Department of Defense has significant expertise on the issue, it is not working with the Department of Energy or Department of Homeland Security to protect America’s power grid.
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