The federal government is doing “nothing” to protect against an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could wipe out American civilization, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a leading expert on the subject, tells Newsmax.
For only $200 million to $400 million, the government could protect a key element of the power grid to keep electrical power from being wiped out for years, according to Dr. Pry, a former staff member of the congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack.
Yet neither Republicans nor Democrats have been willing to spend that small sum, says Pry, who is president EMPACT America, which is meeting in Niagara Falls, N.Y. this week to spotlight the scandal.
A single nuclear bomb exploded over the Midwest would generate an electromagnetic pulse that would destroy the chips that are at the heart of every electronic device. While military and intelligence networks may be shielded against EMP, most of the rest of the country’s technological infrastructure is not.
An EMP attack would wipe out personal computers and the internet. Cars would not start, gasoline pumps would not work, and airplanes could not take off.
Heat and air conditioning would shut down, supermarkets would have to close, telephones would go dead, water would go out, and radio and television sets would not turn on.
Banks and ATMs would shut down, credit cards would become useless, and emergency services and hospital operating rooms would close.
In the ensuing chaos, most Americans would die from starvation.
“We have a 60-day food supply in big regional warehouses,” Pry says. “Typically when hurricanes take out the electric power grid locally, that food spoils, because it needs temperature control systems and refrigerators to keep it preserved. And if you lose the electric grid across the whole country, you’re going to lose all that food that is the best hope for feeding the American people.”
The 2008 report of the congressional commission found that the country is shockingly unprepared for an EMP attack. Terrorists or countries like Iran or North Korea could launch an EMP attack and “possibly end us as a civilization, and take us out as an actor on the world stage,” Pry says.
At the least, Pry says, 100 to 200 large transformers used in electrical transmission should be protected against EMP attack.
“The key for our electric power grid are these big transformers,” Pry says. “All together, there are about 300 of them. They are absolutely indispensable to the operation of the power grid. If you fry those things, there are only a couple of countries in the world that sell them for export, and it takes a year, at least, to make one of them,” Pry says.
Equally important are small computers that regulate the power grid.
“This country can’t survive for six months without electricity, let alone a year,” Pry says. “Everything else would go down after losing electric power.”
To harden those transformers against an attack would cost a mere $200 million to $400 million, Pry says. For perhaps $20 billion, the entire power grid could be protected, Pry says. By comparison, the stimulus bill costs nearly $800 billion. Yet without electricity, no one would have a job.
Pry notes that the Iranians have written extensively about the possibility of wiping out America with an EMP attack. North Korea would also likely be in a position to do that, he says.
To be most effective, an EMP device would be detonated by a missile 200 miles above earth. A strong missile defense would knock missiles out of the sky before they reach the U.S. But going back to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative — dubbed Star Wars — Democrats have consistently ridiculed the idea of an anti-missile defense.
President Obama’s administration already has cut the Pentagon’s missile defense budget by $1.4 billion, or 15 percent.
However, Pry says a missile with a nuclear device launched from a ship would be just as effective at taking out the U.S., and no missile defense would work quickly enough to defend against it. Moreover, he notes, a great geomagnetic storm could unleash destruction almost as devastating as an EMP attack. Therefore, Pry says, the only sure defense is the hardening of targets.
Pry says the Department of Homeland Security has plans for 15 kinds of disasters, but none of the scenarios deals with an EMP attack. Nor, he says, are there any plans to harden the power grid.
“The Department of Defense has contingency plans, and they put a lot of effort into planning to come to the rescue in places like Africa and Indonesia in the event that there are natural catastrophes,” Pry says. “But they don’t plan for such contingencies for the American people.”
Like the government, the press has been asleep on the threat, Pry says. Liberals perceive efforts to prevent an EMP attack as a way to push for funds for anti-missile defense, which the left abhors.
“If they’d trouble themselves to read the EMP commission report, they would find the EMP commission is not saying strengthen missile defense is the answer,” Pry says. “While missile defense can be useful against EMP, it’s not the first solution, or the best solution.”
Instead, Pry says, “The best solution is smart planning to protect and recover the critical infrastructures, especially the electric power grid.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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