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Electromagnetic Pulse

ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE RISKS AND TERRORISM

Other Subjects:
   --- EMP and Faraday Cages
   --- EMP and Other Practical Advice
   --- EMP Senate Hearings March 2005

   --- EMP News Articles and Commentary

General Definition - Electromagnetic pulse

In addition to other effects, a nuclear weapon detonated in or above the earth’s atmosphere or alternatively an E-Bomb (see below) can create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), a high-density electrical field. EMP acts like a stroke of lightning but is stronger, faster and briefer. EMP can seriously damage electronic devices connected to power sources or antennas. This include communication systems, computers, electrical appliances, and automobile or aircraft ignition systems. The damage could range from a minor interruption to actual burnout of components. Most electronic equipment within 1,000 miles of a high-altitude nuclear detonation could be affected. Battery powered radios with short antennas generally would not be affected.

Although EMP is unlikely to harm most people, it could harm those with pacemakers or other implanted electronic devices.

An Air Force spokesman, who describes this effect as similar to a lightning strike, points out that electronics systems can be protected by placing them in metal enclosures called Faraday Cages that divert any impinging electromagnetic energy directly to the ground. Foreign military analysts say this reassuring explanation is incomplete.

What can be done? 
See Web Page on Faraday Cages
 (http://www.unitedstatesaction.com/emp_and_faraday_cages.htm)
See Web Page on EMP Other Practical Advice
 and also latest news in Washington Times August 19, 2003 commentary ("The blackout next time").

From: http://www.physics.northwestern.edu/classes/2001Fall/Phyx135-2/19/emp.htm

Home  |  Electromagnetic Pulse  |  Railgun Technology  |  Non-lethal Anti-Personnel Electromagnetic Weapons
Definition of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP):

1. The electromagnetic radiation from a nuclear explosion caused by Compton-recoil electrons and photoelectrons from photons scattered in the materials of the nuclear device or in a surrounding medium. The resulting electric and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges. May also be caused by nonnuclear means.
2
. A broadband, high-intensity, short-duration burst of electromagnetic energy. Note: In the case of a nuclear detonation, the electromagnetic pulse consists of a continuous frequency spectrum. Most of the energy is distributed throughout the lower frequencies between 3 Hz and 30 kHz.


 

History of the EMP

The existence of the electromagnetic pulse has been known since the 1940's when nuclear weapons were being developed and tested. However, because of lack of data, the effects of an EMP were not fully known until 1962. At this time, the United States was conducting a series of high-altitude atmospheric tests, code named "Fishbowl." The nuclear explosion, "Starfish Prime," which was detonated in the Pacific Ocean 800 miles from Hawaii, caused an EMP that disrupted radio stations and electrical equipment throughout Hawaii. Consequently, in 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty to counter the considerable threat posed by EMPs. Unfortunately, the destructive potential of an EMP increases everyday as society becomes evermore technological because of an escalating dependence on electronics.

 

Physics of the EMP

An electromagnetic pulse starts with a short, intense burst of gamma rays produced from nuclear detonation. The gamma rays interact with the atoms in air molecules through a process called the Compton effect, wherein electrons are scattered at high energies, thus ionizing the atmosphere and generating a powerful electrical field. The strength of the EMP depends highly on the altitude at which it is released. At altitudes above 30,000m, it is the strongest. It is also significant at surface or low altitude bursts, but is not as effective between the two extremes.

 

Effects of an EMP

Although the electric field created from an EMP lasts for only a short time, its effects can be devastating. It is predicted that a single high altitude burst 200 miles above Kansas could propagate an EMP enveloping the entire United States. Electrical systems connected to things that can conduct current like wires, antennas, and metal objects will suffer significant damage. EMP effects on electronics include interference of radio frequency links, irreparable damage to microcircuits, and even the disabling of satellites. Fortunately, electronic equipment that is turned off is less likely to be damaged.

 

Protecting Against EMP

Electrical equipment is "hardened" to protect itself from an EMP. The basic concern of protection is cutting down the outside EMP level. Metallic shielding is used to route EMP fields away from vital electrical components. If it is also connected to a cable, transient protection like surge protectors, wire termination procedures, screened isolated transformers, protective enclosures, spark gaps, and filters are used to protect at the point of entry. To protect against EMP in an indirect way, other methods are used, such as increasing immediate backup units and avoidance (i.e. keeping equipment out of range of EMP bursts).


Electromagnetic Pulse: A Terrifying Threat
(click on the pictures to see a larger version)
 

          After the events of September 11 our nation has come to the painful realization that our country, our way of life is not immune to the attack of malicious peoples, peoples with no regard for the rights we so highly value as Americans, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These ideals have been tainted as the ominous specter of terrorism has descended across them. We must not buckle; we must not curb the practice of such self-evident truths, for to do so would be to give in to our heartless assailants. However, we must recognize the danger and take precautionary measures regarding all possible avenues of terrorism so that the catastrophe of the twin towers is never again repeated. One such vulnerability that must be addressed is America's vast and virtually unprotected electrical infrastructure. The development and maturity of electromagnetic pulse technology has made the possibility of some terror organization harnessing an E-Bomb practically inevitable. The physics behind such a weapon as well as the dire consequences if such were to be harnessed by hate-mongers such as Osama bin Laden who have already proven beyond a doubt their complete lack of humanity will be discussed. It will be made apparent why such a horrendous tool in the hands of the enemy for less that $400 is a terrifying, yet very plausible, reality.

          The fundamentals of the workings of an E-bomb are grounded in a basic understanding of electromagnetic physics theory. The technology relies on an electromagnetic pulse that may be conceptualized as an electric shockwave created when a stream of highly energetic photons collides with atoms of low atomic numbers to cause them to eject a 'pulse' of electrons. Such a phenomenon called the Compton effect was first observed in open-air tests of nuclear bombs when the immense detonation energy interacted with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere to shoot mass quantities of electrons radially outwards from the explosion. Though these pulses diminish in strength over distance, electric lights hundreds of miles away were overloaded. Today American scientists are working diligently on the creation of E-bombs that can target artillery hells and missiles and disrupt their trajectory in mid-flight. They could be of crucial assistance in today's strategic theater that is based much more around urban warfare where one bomb could take out an enemy's electrical infrastructure before the arrival of ground troops. America's first major tests of their high-tech EMP weapons based on using high-temperature superconductors to create intense magnetic fields will take place in less than a year, however terrorists can today easily construct a potent E-bomb using 1940s technology for only $400.

          This rudimentary form of E-bomb is called a flux compression generator. It consists of an explosives packed tube inside a copper coil that is energized by a bank of capacitors. This creates a magnetic field. When the explosives are detonated from rear to front, the tube flares outwards touching the copper coil and so creating a moving short circuit. This compresses the magnetic field forward and creates an EMP that surges from the ordnance with peak currents of tens of millions of amps. Such a high frequency pulse can pass through faraday cages used to ground electromagnetic energy from lightening. However, even if the cages were effective they would still be easily bypassed since any wires running from the devices within them would act as antennae and conduct the high transient voltage. There is also a so called 'late-time EMP effect.' This refers to the observations of EMPs creating localized magnetic fields within electrical systems they pass through that soon collapse sending huge surges through power and telecommunication infrastructure. This sparks a chain reaction in which all devices attached to these lines will be rendered useless by the massive surge. Such FCGs can be made with basic electrical materials, plastic explosives and readily available machine tools and can be smaller than a suitcase. The fact that this weapon is so startlingly simple to construct and can potentially be so devastating to our society coupled with the terrorist attacks of September 11th constitutes a wakeup call to our national defense planners. Terrorists have proven that they are serious, now we must prove ourselves up to the task of planning for every contingency, including the dreaded scenario of a weapon that could propel our society back two-hundred years to an age devoid of electricity.


 

Internet Sources
http://huachuca-usaic.army.mil/contlearning/infrastructure/media/mipb/janmarch97/merkle.html
http://popularmechanics.com/science/military/2001/9/e-bomb/
http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/kopp/apjemp.html
http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/5971/emp.html
http://www.georgetown.edu/sfs/programs/nssp/nssq/Edwards.pdf
http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/fs-1037/dir-013/_1938.htm

 

The E -BOMB 
In the blink of an eye, electromagnetic bombs could throw civilization back 200 years ; and terrorists can build them for only $400 ....
Text by : JIM WILSON, and educative illustration by : JOHN BATCHELOR
The next Pearl Harbor will not announce itself with a searing flash of nuclear light.  You only will hear a sharp crack in the distance.  By the time you mistakenly identify this sound as an innocent clap of thunder, the civilized world will have become unhinged.  Fluorescent lights and television sets will glow eerily bright, despite being turned off.  The aroma of ozone mixed with smoldering plastic will seep from outlet covers as electric wires arc and telephone lines melt.  Your Palm Pilot and MP3 player will feel warm to the touch, their batteries overloaded.  Your computer, and every bit of data on it, will be toast. And then you will notice that the world sounds different too.  The background music of civilization, the whirl of internal-combustion engines, will have stopped.  Save a few diesels, engines will never start again.  You, however, will remain unharmed, as you find yourself thrust backward 200 years, to a time when electricity meant a lightning bolt fracturing the night sky.  This is not a hypothetical, son-of-Y2K scenario.  It is a realistic assessment of the damage the Pentagon believes could be inflicted by a new generation of weapons : E-bombs ....

The first major test of an American electromagnetic bomb was scheduled for 2002.  Ultimately, the Army hopes to use E-bomb technology to explode artillery shells in midflight.  The Navy wants to use the E-bomb's high-power microwave pulses to neutralize antiship missiles.  And, the Air Force plans to equip its bombers, strike fighters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles with E-bomb capabilities.  When fielded, these will be among the most technologically sophisticated weapons the U.S. military establishment has ever built ....

There is, however, another part to the E-bomb story, one that military planners are reluctant to discuss.  While American versions of these weapons are based on advanced technologies, terrorists could use a less expensive, low-tech approach to create the same destructive power.  "Any nation with even a 1940s technology base could make them", says Carlo Kopp, an Australian-based expert on high-tech warfare : "the threat of E-bomb proliferation is very real".  POPULAR MECHANICS estimates a basic weapon could be built for only $400 ....
To ignite an E-bomb, a starter current energizes the stator coil, creating a magnetic field.  The explosion (A) expands the tube, short-circuiting the coil and compressing the magnetic field forward (B).  The pulse is emitted (C) at high frequencies that defeat protective devices like Faraday Cages ....

An Old Idea Made New
The theory behind the E-bomb was proposed in 1925 by physicist Arthur H. Compton — not to build weapons, but to study atoms.  Compton demonstrated that firing a stream of highly energetic photons into atoms that have a low atomic number causes them to eject a stream of electrons.  Physics students know this phenomenon as the Compton Effect.  It became a key tool in unlocking the secrets of the atom ....

Ironically, this nuclear research led to an unexpected demonstration of the power of the Compton Effect, and spawned a new type of weapon.  In 1958, nuclear weapons designers ignited hydrogen bombs high over the Pacific Ocean.  The detonations created bursts of gamma rays that, upon striking the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, released a tsunami of electrons that spread for hundreds of miles.  Street lights were blown out in Hawaii and radio navigation was disrupted for 18 hours, as far away as Australia.  The United States set out to learn how to "harden" electronics against this electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and develop EMP weapons ....

America has remained at the forefront of EMP weapons development.  Although much of this work is classified, it's believed that current efforts are based on using high-temperature superconductors to create intense magnetic fields.  What worries terrorism experts is an idea the United States studied but discarded : the Flux Compression Generator (FCG) ....

A Poor Man's E-Bomb
An FCG (flux compression generator), is an astoundingly simple weapon.  It consists of an explosives-packed tube placed inside a slightly larger copper coil, as shown.  The instant before the chemical explosive is detonated, the coil is energized by a bank of capacitors, creating a magnetic field.  The explosive charge detonates from the rear forward.  As the tube flares outward it touches the edge of the coil, thereby creating a moving short circuit.  "The propagating short has the effect of compressing the magnetic field while reducing the inductance of the stator [coil]", says Kopp : "the result is that FCGs will produce a ramping current pulse, which breaks before the final disintegration of the device — published results suggest ramp times of tens of hundreds of microseconds and peak currents of tens of millions of amps".  The pulse that emerges makes a lightning bolt seem like a flashbulb by comparison ....

An Air Force spokesman, who describes this effect as similar to a lightning strike, points out that electronics systems can be protected by placing them in metal enclosures called Faraday Cages that divert any impinging electromagnetic energy directly to the ground.  Foreign military analysts say this reassuring explanation is incomplete ....

The India Connection
The Indian military has studied FCG devices in detail because it fears that Pakistan, with which it has ongoing conflicts, might use E-bombs against the city of Bangalore, a sort of Indian Silicon Valley.  An Indian Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis study of E-bombs points to two problems that have been largely overlooked by the West.  The first is that very-high-frequency pulses, in the microwave range, can worm their way around vents in Faraday Cages.  The second concern is known as the "late-time EMP effect," and may be the most worrisome aspect of FCG devices.  It occurs in the 15 minutes after detonation.  During this period, the EMP that surged through electrical systems creates localized magnetic fields.  When these magnetic fields collapse, they cause electric surges to travel through the power and telecommunication infrastructure.  This string-of-firecrackers effect means that terrorists would not have to drop their homemade E-bombs directly on the targets they wish to destroy.  Heavily guarded sites, such as telephone switching centers and electronic funds-transfer exchanges, could be attacked through their electric and telecommunication connections ....

CONCLUSION :»  to knock out electric power, computers and telecommunication and you've destroyed the foundation of modern society.  In the age of Third World-sponsored terrorism, the E-bomb is the great equalizer ....

 

E-Bomb

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

What Is It?

This type of electromagnetic pulse weapon is a warhead that, when exploded, emits a high-energy pulse that will fuse electrical equipment within range. E-bombs can unleash in a flash as much electrical power - 2 billion watts or more - as the Hoover Dam generates in 24 hours.

The theory behind the E-bomb was proposed in 1925 by physicist Arthur H. Compton to study atoms. His nuclear research led to an unexpected demonstration of the power and spawned a new type of weapon. In 1958, nuclear weapons designers ignited hydrogen bombs high over the Pacific Ocean. The detonations created bursts of gamma rays that, upon striking the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, released electrons that spread for hundreds of miles. Street lights were blown out in Hawaii and radio navigation was disrupted for 18 hours, as far away as Australia. The United States set out to learn how to "harden" electronics against this electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and develop EMP weapons.

British scientists at Matra Bae Dynamics developed a non-explosive artillery shell serving as an E-bomb in 2000 that could destroy electrical and electronic systems for miles.

How Is it Spread?

An "E-bomb" is delivered by a cruise missile. It can be fired from a long-range 155 mm artillery gun or MLRS rocket launcher, then its outer casing breaks open over the target. The shell or rocket unfolds its radio transmitter aerials, then the transmitter sends a high-powered radio pulse of billions of watts that lasts just a few nanoseconds. It would zap anything electronic on the ground. The high-powered microwaves (HPMs) are not emitted as a single beam but from sidelobes. It's for this reason that E-bombs are dropped mainly by cruise missiles and not manned aircraft, since the microwaves can reflect off the ground and affect pilots.

What Are the Symptoms of Exposure?

The E-bomb mainly affects electronic equipment. It could cripple enemy communication systems and could stop civilian infrastructures such as power plants, manufacturing, hospitals and transportation, from working. It can scramble phones and computers and knock out various facilities, and cause lights to blink out.

Fluorescent lights and television sets will glow eerily bright, even if they're turned off. Electric wires and telephone lines will melt. Portable digital devices such as Palm Pilots and MP3 players will feel warm to the touch, their batteries overloaded. Computers will be toast.

The E-bomb isn't harmful to humans, unless one is set off near a hospital or anyone wearing a pacemaker. Although testing is still ongoing to verify the effects on humans, scientists do know that if someone with any electrical implants were hit with megawatt, high-powered microwaves, the fluid in their body cells would vaporize into steam immediately before they even realized what was happening. If a person was caught in the sidelobe of a beam, or a weak reflection of the main beam off a metal surface, he or she could suffer from burns and permanent brain damage.

How Is It Treated?

If a human was directly hit by microwave beams, he or she would be treated for any burns they may have.

Who Has It?

Although it is still in the experimental phase, the United States may try to use an E-bomb to seize the Iraqi airwaves if a war is launched on that country. The E-bomb will knock out Saddam Hussein's ability to communicate with his military and the Iraq people. The hope is to keep an Iraqi army in place so that it may help keep order in a post-Saddam Iraq.

"[And], although the Pentagon prefers not to use experimental weapons on the battlefield, "the world intervenes from time to time," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said about the E-bomb.

America has remained at the forefront of EMP weapons development. Although much of this work is classified, it's believed that current efforts are based on using high-temperature superconductors to create intense magnetic fields.

In December 2002, various companies were awarded U.S. military contracts to investigate the lethality of HPM devices on target systems and the susceptibility of U.S. systems to HPM threats. They're being tested at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force base in New Mexico, as well as at locations in Virginia and California. The work should be completed by February 2005.

What worries terrorism experts is the Flux Compression Generator (FCG). It's a simple weapon, consisting of an explosives-packed tube placed inside a slightly larger copper coil. The instant before the chemical explosive is detonated, the coil is energized by a bank of capacitors, creating a magnetic field. The explosive charge detonates from the rear forward. As the tube flares outward it touches the edge of the coil, thereby creating a moving short circuit. The result is that FCGs will produce a ramping current pulse that makes a lightning bolt seem like a flashbulb.

The Indian military has studied FCG devices because it fears that Pakistan might use E-bombs against the city of Bangalore, a sort of Indian Silicon Valley.

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Report: Iran plans electro-magnetic pulse attack on USA with high-altitude nuke

Iran plans to knock out U.S. with 1 nuclear bomb

Tests missiles for electro-magnetic pulse weapon that could destroy America's technical infrastructure
Posted: April 25, 2005

Editor's note: Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin is an online, subscription intelligence news service from the creator of WorldNetDaily.com – a journalist who has been developing sources around the world for almost 30 years.

By Joseph Farah
2005 WorldNetDaily.com

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43956

WASHINGTON -- Iran is not only covertly developing nuclear weapons, it is already testing ballistic missiles specifically designed to destroy America's technical infrastructure, effectively neutralizing the world's lone superpower, say U.S. intelligence sources, top scientists and western missile industry experts.

The radical Shiite regime has conducted successful tests to determine if its Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, can be detonated by a remote-control device while still in high-altitude flight.

Scientists, including President Reagan's top science adviser, William R. Graham, say there is no other explanation for such tests than preparation for the deployment of Electromagnetic Pulse weapons – even one of which could knock out America's critical electrical and technological infrastructure, effectively sending the continental U.S. back to the 19th century with a recovery time of months or years.

Iran will have that capability – at least theoretically – as soon as it has one nuclear bomb ready to arm such a missile. North Korea, a strategic ally of Iran, already boasts such capability.

The stunning report was first published over the weekend in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence newsletter published by WND's founder.

Just last month, Congress heard testimony about the use of such weapons and the threat they pose from rogue regimes.

Iran has surprised intelligence analysts by describing the mid-flight detonations of missiles fired from ships on the Caspian Sea as "successful" tests. Even primitive Scud missiles could be used for this purpose. And top U.S. intelligence officials reminded members of Congress that there is a glut of these missiles on the world market. They are currently being bought and sold for about $100,000 apiece.

"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 a week ago. "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 – al-Qaida is believed to own about 80 such vessels – and make sure to get it a few miles in the air."

The Iranian missile tests were more sophisticated and capable of detonation at higher elevations – making them more dangerous.

Detonated at a height of 60 to 500 kilometers above the continental U.S., one nuclear warhead could cripple the country – knocking out electrical power and circuit boards and rendering the U.S. domestic communications impotent.

While Iran still insists officially in talks currently underway with the European Union that it is only developing nuclear power for peaceful civilian purposes, the mid-flight detonation missile tests persuade U.S. military planners and intelligence agencies that Tehran can only be planning such an attack, which depends on the availability of at least one nuclear warhead.

Some analysts believe the stage of Iranian missile developments suggests Iranian scientists will move toward the production of weapons-grade nuclear material shortly as soon as its nuclear reactor in Busher is operative.

Jerome Corsi, author of "Atomic Iran," told WorldNetDaily the new findings about Iran's Electromagnetic Pulse experiments significantly raise the stakes of the mullah regime's bid to become a nuclear power.

"Up until now, I believed the nuclear threat to the U.S. from Iran was limited to the ability of terrorists to penetrate the borders or port security to deliver a device to a major city," he said. "While that threat should continue to be a grave concern for every American, these tests by Iran demonstrate just how devious the fanatical mullahs in Tehran are. We are facing a clever and unscrupulous adversary in Iran that could bring America to its knees."

Earlier this week, Iran's top nuclear official said Europe must heed an Iranian proposal on uranium enrichment or risk a collapse of the talks.

The warning by Hassan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, came as diplomats from Britain, France and Germany began talks with their Iranian counterparts in Geneva, ahead of a more senior-level meeting in London set for April 29. Enrichment produces fuel for nuclear reactors, which can also be used in the explosive core of nuclear bombs.

"The Europeans should tell us whether these ideas can work as the basis for continued negotiations or not," Rowhani said, referring to the Iranian proposal put forward last month that would allow some uranium enrichment. "If yes, fine. If not, then the negotiations cannot continue," he said.

Some analysts believe Iran is using the negotiations merely to buy time for further development of the nuclear program.

The U.S. plans, according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to allow the EU talks to continue before deciding this summer to push for United Nations sanctions against Iran.

Last month, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security chaired by Kyl, held a hearing on the Electromagnetic Pulse, or EMP, threat.

"An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the American homeland, said one of the distinguished scientists who testified at the hearing, is one of only a few ways that the United States could be defeated by its enemies – terrorist or otherwise," wrote Kyl "And it is probably the easiest. A single Scud missile, carrying a single nuclear weapon, detonated at the appropriate altitude, would interact with the Earth's atmosphere, producing an electromagnetic pulse radiating down to the surface at the speed of light. Depending on the location and size of the blast, the effect would be to knock out already stressed power grids and other electrical systems across much or even all of the continental United States, for months if not years."

The purpose of an EMP attack, unlike a nuclear attack on land, is not to kill people, but "to kill electrons," as Graham explained. He serves as chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack and was director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and science adviser to the president during the Reagan administration.

Graham told WorldNetDaily he could think of no other reason for Iran to be experimenting with mid-air detonation of missiles than for the planning of an EMP-style attack.

"EMP offers a bigger bang for the buck," he said. He also suggested such an attack makes a U.S. nuclear response against a suspected enemy less likely than the detonation of a nuclear bomb in a major U.S. city.

A 2004 report by the commission found "several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapons-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication."

"EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences," the report said. "EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of U.S. society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power."

The major impact of EMP weapons is on electronics, "so pervasive in all aspects of our society and military, coupled through critical infrastructures," explained the report.

"Their effects on systems and infrastructures dependent on electricity and electronics could be sufficiently ruinous as to qualify as catastrophic to the nation," Lowell Wood, acting chairman of the commission, told members of Congress.

The commission report went so far as to suggest, in its opening sentence, that an EMP attack "might result in the defeat of our military forces."

"Briefly, a single nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude above the United States will interact with the Earth's atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) radiation down to the Earth and additionally create electrical currents in the Earth," said the report. "EMP effects are both direct and indirect. The former are due to electrical systems, and the latter arise from the damage that 'shocked' – upset, damaged and destroyed – electronics controls then inflict on the systems in which they are embedded. The indirect effects can be even more severe than the direct effects."

The EMP threat is not a new one considered by U.S. defense planners. The Soviet Union had experimented with the idea as a kind of super-weapon against the U.S.

"What is different now is that some potential sources of EMP threats are difficult to deter – they can be terrorist groups that have no state identity, have only one or a few weapons and are motivated to attack the U.S. without regard for their own safety," explains the commission report. "Rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran, may also be developing the capability to pose an EMP threat to the United States and may also be unpredictable and difficult to deter."

Graham describes the potential "cascading effect" of an EMP attack. If electrical power is knocked out and circuit boards fried, telecommunications are disrupted, energy deliveries are impeded, the financial system breaks down, food, water and gasoline become scarce.

As Kyl put it: "Few if any people would die right away. But the loss of power would have a cascading effect on all aspects of U.S. society. Communication would be largely impossible. Lack of refrigeration would leave food rotting in warehouses, exacerbated by a lack of transportation as those vehicles still working simply ran out of gas (which is pumped with electricity). The inability to sanitize and distribute water would quickly threaten public health, not to mention the safety of anyone in the path of the inevitable fires, which would rage unchecked. And as we have seen in areas of natural and other disasters, such circumstances often result in a fairly rapid breakdown of social order."

"American society has grown so dependent on computer and other electrical systems that we have created our own Achilles' heel of vulnerability, ironically much greater than those of other, less developed nations," the senator wrote. "When deprived of power, we are in many ways helpless, as the New York City blackout made clear. In that case, power was restored quickly because adjacent areas could provide help. But a large-scale burnout caused by a broad EMP attack would create a much more difficult situation. Not only would there be nobody nearby to help, it could take years to replace destroyed equipment."

The commission said hardening key infrastructure systems and procuring vital backup equipment such as transformers is both feasible and – compared with the threat – relatively inexpensive.

"But it will take leadership by the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, and other federal agencies, along with support from Congress, all of which have yet to materialize," wrote Kyl, so far the only elected official blowing the whistle this alarming development.

Kyl concluded in his report: "The Sept. 11 commission report stated that our biggest failure was one of 'imagination.' No one imagined that terrorists would do what they did on Sept. 11. Today few Americans can conceive of the possibility that terrorists could bring our society to its knees by destroying everything we rely on that runs on electricity. But this time we've been warned, and we'd better be prepared to respond."
 

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EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) info. collection
This page will remain in a constant state of expansion, so bookmark and revisit often!
Last updated: June 28, 2003 -
Added "Hardening Your Computer Assets" and the link to the
Journal of Electronic Defense.

http://www.sphosting.com/myguinness/emp.htm

General EMP Info.
QST Magazine Articles
Military Manuals
Equipment Manufacturers
Faraday Cages
Congressional Testimony

"...the de facto national policy of nakedness to all of our potentially EMP-armed enemies takes on ever more the character of national scale masochism. It is perverse, irrational, and assuredly not necessary or foreordained."
- Dr. Lowell Wood, Lawrence Livermore Labs
 

What is EMP?
According to the Institute for Telecommunications Sciences, Electromagnetic Pulse is:
 

"1. The electromagnetic radiation from a nuclear explosion caused by Compton-recoil electrons and photoelectrons from photons scattered in the materials of the nuclear device or in a surrounding medium.
The resulting electric and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges. May also be caused by non-nuclear means;
 

2. A broadband, high-intensity, short-duration burst of electromagnetic energy. Note: In the case of a nuclear detonation, the electromagnetic pulse consists of a continuous frequency spectrum. Most of the energy is distributed throughout the lower frequencies between 3 Hz and 30 kHz."

In plain language, it is an electromagnetic "shock wave" that is released from nuclear detonations that can seriously damage any electrical components in its path. EMP can travel either through air or through conductive pathways such as electrical or phone lines. It can affect electronic equipment regardless of whether the equipment is switched on or off.

The goal of this site is to help you protect your communications and computing gear from EMP, as well as provide an understanding of the threats to and vulnerabilities of our electronics-based society.

 
General EMP Information
The Electromagnetic Bomb - A Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction - a long and interesting article on E-Bombs.
Balanced Electromagnetic Hardening Program - R&D wing of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Electromagnetic Pulse-From Chaos To A Manageable Solution - A very interesting white paper by a USMC Major on the EMP threat, dated 1988.
A short Popular Mechanics article from 2001 on E-Bombs and the potential for terrorists to use them.
The Threat of High Altitude EMP to Force XXII - 20 page 1997 article from National Security Studies Quarterly on the threat to US Forces from EMP - Adobe .pdf document.
Hardening Your Computer Assets - an article by Carlo Kopp on how to protect IT systems from EMP - very good! Adobe .pdf document.
 
QST Magazine Articles - 1986
In 1986, QST magazine published a 4-part article on "Electromagnetic Pulse and the Radio Amateur". The article offered some in-depth technical information on hardening radio equipment against lightning strikes or nuclear explosions. More than you ever wanted to know...
Here are the 4 articles in Adobe Acrobat: (NOTE: files are hosted at the ARRL.org site)
Article 1 - How EMP works and its effects on antennas, equipment, phone lines, etc. (1.09MB .pdf file)
Article 2 - Tests of EMP & transient protection devices. (523k .pdf file)
Article 3 - More tests of EMP & transient protection devices (583k .pdf file)
Article 4 - Procedures and products to protect your gear (568k .pdf file)
 
Military Manuals
Military Handbook MIL-HDBK-1195 30 (SEPTEMBER 1988) - "Radio Frequency Shielded Enclosures" - 79 pages of technical and practical informtion on shielding devices from EMP and EMI. HTML Version or the Zipped Version which includes all the illustrations.
Field Manual 24-18 (Tactical Single Channel Radio Communications) has some good EMP info in Appendix J.
US Army Corps of Engineers Pamphlet EP 1110-3-2 - "Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Tempest Protection for Facilities"; a 467 page technical manual!
 
EMI/EMP Shielding Equipment Manufacturers
Manufacturers' websites, ranging from bomb-proof to simple surge protection.
CCI - Conduit-mount and explosion-proof EMI suppressors
Chomerics - EMI/EMP shielding for cables that uses a sheath that you zip around the cable and connections
Citel - Coaxial surge protectors, AC surge protectors, and more - good stuff!
Control Concepts - mostly large industrial applications
Fischer Custom Communications - check out the EM Pro Cord...neat stuff.
NexTek - mostly lightning surge protection, but still good stuff.
Polyphaser - Great products for the protection of your commo gear!
 
Faraday Cage Information - Faraday cages are devices that protect objects within the cage from electric charges and EMP. Based upon principles put forth by Michael Faraday in 1836, the Faraday cage is still being tinkered with by modern inventors. There are a LOT of strange ideas out there on what Faraday cages can and cannot do. I've tried to filter out the wingnuts and provide only solid data:
Bolt Lighning Protection - An EXCELLENT overview of the basic properties of a Faraday cage.
Dixel Electronics - This Israeli company manufactures all sorts of fascinating products like Mu-copper foil that you can roll onto walls like wall paper to create your own EMP-safe rooms; transparent protective mesh you can add to windows and more...
 
Congressional Testimony on EMP Topics
1997 Congressional Testimony on the effect of EMP Blasts on the national infrastructure in the House Committess on National Security - a long and fascinating read; Note - sometimes this link works, sometimes not - keep trying.
1999 Congressional Testimony on the effect of an EMP attack on the US economy.
1999 Testimony in front of the House Armed Services Committee from Dr. Lowell Wood from Livermore National Labs on the EMP threat.
1998 Testimony in front of the Joint Economic Committee on "Radio Frequency Weapons and Proliferation"
 
Other
The Journal of Electronic Defense - Publication of the Association of Old Crows, an association of electronic warfare parctitioners - very professional!