In what would be a major about-face for the federal government, President Trump is reportedly preparing to sign an executive order to study the risks of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the US.
Despite the fact that a growing number of scientists and national security experts see an EMP attack on the US electricity grid as one of the greatest terror threats facing the country, the DoD decided in late 2017 to defund a Congressional committee that had been studying the EMP threat since 2001. The DoD terminated funding for the Commission to Assess the Threat to the US from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack in September 2017, just as the threat from North Korea - considered a rogue state that could pull off an EMP attack with one of its nukes - was reaching a fever pitch.
NEWS: Trump is preparing to sign an executive order meant to help deal with potential electromagnetic pulse events.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) March 26, 2019
Some lawmakers and scientists have long worried that a rogue nation with the technological know-how might attack the U.S. electric grid with an EMP.
Experts determined that a successful attack doesn’t even require a Super-EMP weapon. What's worse, the Commission concluded that even a primitive weapon could successfully render our infrastructure obsolete. BBG reported that the fear that a 'rogue nation' could shut down the US electricity grid with a well-placed EMP helped inspire the president's order.
Several declassified 2017 reports from the Commission that were released earlier this year also revealed that Russia, China and several other nations had been developing powerful high-altitude nuclear bombs intended to produce super-electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves capable of knocking out critical electronic infrastructure.
The Commission, and outside experts, have also claimed that North Korea has the capability to carry out an EMP attack on the US. And during the hostilities with the US back in 2017, Kim Jong Un even reportedly threatened to carry out such an attack.
Here's what the report said about threat posed by EMPs:
"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," the report continues.
"The Commission sees the high-altitude nuclear explosion-generated electromagnetic pulse as an existential threat to the survival of the United States and its allies that can be exploited by major nuclear powers and small-scale nuclear weapon powers, including North Korea and non-state actors, such as nuclear-armed terrorists."
Here's what scientists believe a powerful EMP attack on the US would look like:
Newt Gingrich once said that an EMP would "destroy the country's ability to function." If an atomic weapon were to be detonated high up in the air, the resulting explosion wouldn't be powerful enough to kill people on the ground (at least, not in large numbers). But the electromagnetic interference would be powerful enough to shutdown electronic grids.
EMP attacks do not require accuracy, nor do the bombs require a re-entry vehicle, heat shield or shock absorbers like standard nuclear weapons, and they can be delivered through several methods - including satellites, short - medium - long range missiles, or even from a jet, commercial airliner or a meteorological balloon.
CNN has a lengthy explainer on the EMP threat below:
In addition to the man-made threat, a "solar tsunami" could have a similar - if less dramatic - impact as an EMP attack.
Here's what the Commission recommended the US should do to "EMP-proof" our society:
Recommendation 1: The Commission recommends the President establish an Executive Agent with the authority, accountability, and resources to manage U.S. national infrastructure protection and defense against the existential EMP threat.
Recommendation 2: The Commission strongly recommends that implementation of cybersecurity for the electric grid and other critical infrastructures include EMP protection.
Recommendation 3: The Commission encourages the President to work with Congressional leaders to establish a joint Presidential-Congressional Commission, with its members charged with supporting the Nation’s leadership to achieve, on an accelerated basis, the protection of critical national infrastructures.
Recommendation 4: The Commission recommends that government agencies and industries adopt new standards to protect critical national infrastructures from damaging E3 EMP heave fields, with more realistic standards of 85 V/km.
Recommendation 5: The Commission recommends that the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy provide expedited threat-level, full-system testing of large power transformers in wide use within the bulk electric systemand share key findings with the electric utility industry.
Recommendation 6: The Commission recommends the Director of National Intelligence circulate to all recipients of the 2014 JAEIC report the EMP Commission critique and direct a new assessment be prepared that supersedes the 2014 JAEIC EMP report.
The worst forecasts suggest that up to 90% of Americans could die in the aftermath of an EMP attack, after the bulk of the country's electric grid fails leaving essential services in the dark. Hospitals would soon shut down, clean water would run out, and millions of Americans would quickly run out of food.
Considering what's at stake, it probably makes sense that the US does everything in its power to prepare.
Read the Commission's full report on the EMP threat below:
2017 Executive Report on As... by on Scribd
And here's what life might look like after an EMP attack:
2017 Life Without Electrici... by on Scribd