David Edwards and Muriel Kane – “Fox: Terrorist nukes could ‘fry every electronic gizmo civilization needs’”


Fox: Terrorist nukes could ‘fry every electronic gizmo civilization needs’

David Edwards and Muriel Kane | July 15, 2008

It has been known since the 1960’s that electromagnetic pulses from nuclear explosions or other sources can knock out sophisticated electronic equipment, but it has remained a matter of debate whether EMP weapons pose a credible threat to the United States.

In 2001, the House Armed Services Committee established a Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. The Commission released its initial report in 2004, concluding that a nuclear-generated EMP “has the potential to hold our society seriously at risk.”

Conservative Paul Weyrich recently drew fresh attention to the 2004 report, writing, “The conclusions of this study are the most frightening I have seen concerning modern-day threats. Few have heard of it because the report has yet to be made public. … When the American people realize as much, the outrage will be palpable.”

However, other experts downplay the technological feasibility of an EMP attack and point to the fact that most of those appointed to the Commission had close ties to the defense industry and an interest in promoting the development of missile defense systems.

The EMP debate now appears to be back in the news, with the Armed Service Committee receiving an update from the chair of the EMP Commission, William Graham, at a hearing last week.

According to an editorial at Investor’s Business Daily, “As he did in 2005, Graham warned the House Armed Services Committee that Iran was developing nuclear weapons and delivery systems targeted at Israel, plus a sophisticated variant that could deal a knockout blow to the U.S. and its high-tech military industrial complex. He reported the mullahs had conducted successful tests to see if the Shahab-3 could be detonated by remote control at high altitude before it striking any ground target. … Launched from an innocent-looking freighter in international waters off the U.S. coast, the modified Shahab-3, even your off-the-shelf SCUD, need not have to hit anything. It would only need to get its warhead high enough over the continental U.S. One such blast would be enough to send America technologically back to the 19th century.”

Fox News seized on Graham’s testimony to present EMP as a fresh terrorism threat to be panicked about, with anchor Bill Hemmer suggesting direly on Monday, “There is a new terror study out … warning the US of a clear and present danger on a massive scale.”

Hemmer turned for insight on the EMP threat to former White House terrorism director R.P. Eddy, who currently heads the Center for Policing Terrorism. Eddy explained that “a nuclear explosion or another weapon that releases a wave of electrons … will fry every electronic gizmo or tool that civilization needs to survive. … Not only would the power grid be out … but every piece of electronics that we use, from pacemakers to phones to cars.”

“Major civilizations, major nations have built electromagnetic pulse weapons,” Eddy asserted, “but they’re not that complicated to make, and it’s likely that terrorists could actually make some of the weapons.”

In contradiction to Eddy’s claim, a recent article in the Register suggests that even the Pentagon has not yet successfully developed an electropulse weapon. However, aerial nuclear explosions offer a more accessible means of achieving the same result, and Fox displayed a graphic showing that a nuclear burst 300 miles over Kansas could take out all of the United States.

“Countries like Iran or North Korea could use some of their nuclear weapons to create an electromagnetic pulse,” Eddy proposed. “It’s very hard to defend against a missile.” He added that the US military has been attentive to hardening its own electronics against electromagnetic pulses for decades, but “it doesn’t mean that civilization in this country is paying attention to it.”

“You can use a nuclear weapon, and you don’t have to have as accurate or as long-range a missile to deliver it,” Eddy concluded, suggesting, like Graham, that Iran could shoot a nuclear-tipped Scud missile at the United States from a barge anchored off the coast.

Published in: on July 15, 2008 at 10:02 PM  Leave a Comment  

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