The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its presentation of key excerpts from the explosive testimony to Congress about the imminent threat of an EMP attack on the United States by Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff, of the Commission to Assess the Threat to America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
In the event of a nuclear EMP attack on the United States, a widespread protracted blackout is inevitable.
Even if North Korea has only primitive, low-yield nuclear weapons, and likewise if other states or terrorists acquire one or a few such weapons, and the capability to detonate them at 30 kilometers or higher-altitude over the United States, as the EMP Commission warned over a decade ago in its 2004 Report: “The damage level could be sufficient to be catastrophic to the Nation, and our current vulnerability invites attack.”
What Is To Be Done?
We recommend establishing an Executive Agent – a Cabinet Secretary designated by the President – with the authority, accountability, and resources, to manage U.S. national infrastructure protection and defense against EMP and the other existential threats described above. Current institutional authorities and responsibilities–government, industry, regulatory agencies—are fragmented, incomplete, and unable to protect and defend against foreign hostile EMP threats or solar super-storms.
We encourage the President to work with Congressional leaders to stand-up an ad hoc Joint Presidential-Congressional Commission, with its members charged with supporting the Nation’s leadership and providing expertise, experience, and oversight to achieve, on an accelerated basis, the protection of critical national infrastructures. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) have for nearly a decade been unable or unwilling to implement the EMP Commission’s recommendations. A Presidential-Congressional Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection could engage the Free World’s preeminent experts on EMP and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare to serve the entire Government in a manner akin to the Atomic Energy Commission of the 1947-74 period, advising the Administration’s actions to attain most quickly and most cost-effectively the protection essential to long-term national survival and wellbeing. The United States should not remain in our current state of fatal vulnerability to well-known natural and man-made threats.
We highly commend President Trump’s new Executive Order “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure” signed on May 11, 2017. We strongly recommend that implementation of cybersecurity for the electric grid and other critical infrastructures include EMP protection, since all-out cyber warfare as planned by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran includes nuclear EMP attack. However, current institutional arrangements for protecting and improving the reliability of the electric grids and other critical infrastructures through the U.S. FERC and the NERC are not designed to address major national security threats to the electric power grids and other national critical infrastructures. Using FERC and NERC to achieve this level of national security is beyond the purpose for which those organizations were created and has proven to be fundamentally unworkable. New institutional arrangements are needed to advance preparedness to survive EMP and related threats to our critical national infrastructures.
We recommend that U.S. military forces and critical national infrastructures be protected from EMP as outlined in the EMP Commission’s classified reports and unclassified reports provided in 2004 and 2008. EMP protection of military systems and civilian/military critical national infrastructures can be achieved cost-effectively by a combination of operational procedures and physical hardening. It is not necessary to harden everything. Selective hardening of key critical nodes and equipment will suffice. Threat parameters are 200 kilovolts/meter for E1 EMP and 85 volts/kilometer for E3 EMP. Critical national infrastructures are already adequately protected from E2 EMP, equivalent to lightning.
We recommend, given the proximity and enormity of the threat from EMP and CombinedArms Cyber Warfare, the President exercise leadership to implement immediate, midterm, and long-term steps to deter and defeat this existential threat:
We recommend that the President declare that EMP or cyber-attacks that blackout or threaten to blackout the national electric grid constitute the use of weapons of mass destruction that justify preemptive and retaliatory responses by the United States using all possible means, including nuclear weapons. Some potential adversaries have the capability to produce a protracted nationwide blackout induced by EMP or Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare by the use of nuclear or non-nuclear means. A Defense Science Board study Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat (January 2013) equates an all-out cyber-attack on the United States with the consequences of a nuclear attack, and concludes that a nuclear response is justified to deter or retaliate for cyber warfare that threatens the life of the nation: “While the manifestation of a nuclear and cyber-attack are very different, in the end, the existential impact to the United States is the same.”
We recommend that the President issue an Executive Order, provided to the previous White House, titled “Protecting the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)”. Among many other provisions to protect the nation from EMP on an emergency basis, the Executive Order would instantly mobilize a much needed “whole of government solution” to the EMP and combined-arms cyber threat: “All U.S. Government Departments, Agencies, Offices, Councils, Boards, Commissions and other U.S. Government entities…shall take full and complete account of the EMP threat in forming policies and plans to protect United States critical infrastructures…” Protecting the electric grids and other critical infrastructures from the worst threat—nuclear EMP attack—can, if carried out in a system-wide, integrated approach, help mitigate all lesser threats, including natural EMP, man-made non-nuclear EMP, cyberattack, physical sabotage, and severe terrestrial weather.
We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to include a Limited Nuclear Option for EMP attack among the U.S. nuclear strike plans, and immediately make targeting and fusing adjustments to some of the nuclear forces needed to implement a nuclear EMP attack capability.
We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to use national technical means to ascertain if there is a nuclear weapon aboard North Korea’s KMS-3 or KMS-4 satellites that orbit over the United States. If either or both of these satellites are nucleararmed, they should be intercepted and destroyed over a broad ocean area where an EMP resulting from salvage-fusing will do the least damage to humanity.
We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to post Aegis ships in the Gulf of Mexico and near the east and west coasts, to search for and be prepared to intercept missiles launched from freighters, submarines, or other platforms that might make a nuclear EMP attack on the United States. U.S. National Missile Defenses (NMD) are primarily located in Alaska and California and oriented for a missile attack coming at the U.S. from the north, and are not deployed to intercept a short-warning missile attack launched near the U.S. coasts.
We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to harden the FirstNet emergency communications system against EMP.
We recommend that the President initiate training, evaluating, and “Red Teaming” efforts to protect the U.S. and in the event of an EMP attack to respond, and periodically report the results of these efforts to the Congress.
We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to deploy Aegis-ashore missile interceptors along the Gulf of Mexico coast to plug the hole in U.S. missile defenses. The U.S. has no Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radars or missile interceptors facing south, and is largely blind and defenseless from that direction, including to missiles launched from submarines or off ships, or from a nuclear-armed satellite orbiting on a south polar trajectory.
We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to develop a spacesurveillance program to detect if any satellites orbited over the United States are nucleararmed, and develop space-interception capabilities to defend against nuclear-armed satellites that might make an EMP attack.
We recommend that the President direct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to launch a crash program to harden the over 100 nuclear power reactors and their spent fuel storage facilities against nuclear EMP attack. Nuclear power reactors typically only have enough emergency power to cool reactor cores and spent fuel rods for a few days, after which they would “go Fukushima” spreading radioactivity over much of the United States.
We recommend that the President through his Executive Agent protect elements of the national electric grids, the keystone critical infrastructure upon which all other critical infrastructures depend. Priority should be given to elements that are difficult and timeconsuming to replace. Such elements can be protected from EMP at very low cost relative to the costs of an EMP catastrophe, and paid for without federal dollars by a slight increase in user electric rates. We recommend that a similar approach be taken to key elements of the national telecommunications infrastructure and other national critical infrastructures.
We recommend the development and deployment of enhanced-EMP nuclear weapons and other means to deter adversary attack on the United States. Enhanced-EMP nuclear weapons, called by the Russians Super-EMP weapons, can be developed without nuclear testing.
We recommend strengthening U.S. ballistic missile defenses—including deployment of space-based defenses considered by the Strategic Defense Initiative— and that these be designed and postured to also protect the U.S. from EMP attack.