A new report from a group of military leaders says an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP attack, is a real threat to the United States. The dire report warns that such an attack could knock out the U.S. power grid, lead to millions of deaths, and ultimately threaten "democracy and the world order." It further calls on the federal government to declare an EMP a critical issue and increase public awareness of the threat.
An EMP attack involves the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere, setting off a powerful magnetic wave that could wipe out all or part of the power grid. "If you envision where an electromagnetic pulse initiated by a detonation over the continental United States could shut down our infrastructure and our grid, yes it could certainly be a threat," says Jim Conway with Global Intel Strategies. "It basically would bring the country to a screeching halt."
Conway believes there is good reason for the military to call attention to this threat. "Think about losing power throughout the United States, and not being able to get money out of ATMs, not being able to pump gas, food going bad in supermarkets, and so forth," he tells KTRH. "There are people who have thought about this and taken steps to try and get out in front of something like this and prepare."
The report echoes a warning given to Congress last year by a group of experts who have studied the possibility of an EMP attack. That warning was centered on the threat from North Korea using one of its nuclear weapons to cause an EMP in the U.S., but the new report points out that an EMP can also be caused by natural forces, such as a powerful solar storm. The report also warns that it could take at least 18 months to restore the power grid after an EMP.