Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 130311
Yogi Berra opined, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it” . . . but, which way to go?
As observed in our past several email reports, there are two sources for an existential EMP threat: one natural and one manmade. This week, there were press reports of current events related to both—but with the exception of World Net Daily’s report of Scandinavia’s interest in current solar storms, none emphasized the EMP threat.
Solar Flares Illustrate an Eminent Threat.
Friday’s PBS News Hour webpage described the solar flares observed earlier in the week, primarily from the perspective of NASA’s land rover on Mars. From this perspective, it was noted that “High energy particles can impact electronics . . . It can cause erroneous commands. When such an event is in progress, it’s prudent to be cautious.”
Indeed, the same is true for those of us on Earth as well, especially in the case of a large “Carrington Event.” As discussed in our earlier reports, such an even is anticipated every century or so—the last one was in 1859 and we are now in a “maximum period” of the “11-year cycle” of solar maxima. Although a Carrington event can occur at any point in the solar cycle, the likelihood is greatest during such a 1-2 year period.
Click here to go to the PBS webpage and then click on the lead figure to see a very interesting animation produced by the NASA Goddard Space Weather Research Center. This animation shows the path of the magnetic field that discharged from the sun this week, causing the Curiosity team to power down the Mars land rover to its “hardened mode.” Not sure what, if anything, they did for us earthlings, who missed experiencing any effect largely because the earth did not pass through this particular major solar emission. One day we’ll not be so lucky . . . and we are unprepared to be in the “line of fire” because most of our critical infrastructure is not hardened against EMP effects.
North Korea Rabble Rousing?
Then, North Korea sent another wake-up call this week, threatening to nuke Washington because of our role in leading the world community to impose sanctions on North Korea in response to its recent tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to carry them. The Spiegel Online webpage carried an interesting analysis of what might have motivated this widely reported bombast from North Korea, but it—like numerous other recent media reports—understates the potential threat . . . and ignores the possibility of an EMP attack that could reduce our society to the same status as theirs.
In particular, these articles suggest that North Korea doesn’t yet have: 1) Nuclear weapons; 2) Ways to deliver them; and 3) The gumption to do so anyway. The White House reassures us that even if they did, we’d shoot their ballistic missiles down. Not so fast! In our view, this perspective could be wrong on all counts—as discussed below.
We dare not continue to ignore these real and present threats to all we hold dear. But to which of the two should we give priority in framing the most effective countermeasures?
To continue reading a brief discussion of this critical question, click here.
Without discussing the details of the technical arguments—provided by the 2004 and 2008 EMP Commission reports (from an expert panel mandated by the U.S. Congress) and other publications and thus far largely ignored by the powers that be, consider:
Re. North Korea:
- As noted in our last email, the February 26 Family Security Matters’ comprehensive article by Peter Vincent Pry, “Understanding North Korea and Iran,” reflects on recent North Korean tests of long-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, as only the latest such events during the past 20-years. The associated record suggests they already could have nuclear weapons that could be mated to ballistic missiles, already used to successfully launch satellites—which could carry such nuclear weapons into orbit, and they could be commanded to detonate over any place on earth producing the existential EMP threat of concern. Moreover, he notes their “miniaturized” relatively low-yield nuclear weapons could be used to produce a high altitude EMP that could bring America to its knees—without our communications, transportation, banking, etc. and other benefits of our just-in-time, post-agrarian economy, hundreds of million Americans could perish within a year or so.
- In thinking about these issues, remember that the first atomic bombs were designed, developed and deployed in about three years—almost 70 years ago. The first, a Uranium bomb (Little Boy), was dropped on Hiroshima without prior testing; the second, a Plutonium bomb (Fat Man), was dropped on Nagasaki after a test in New Mexico. We now know that those designs (and more) were in Soviet hands long before they were used to end World War II, and the Soviets patterned their nuclear designs after them. The cacophony of proliferation has further distributed this knowledge, including from the Soviet Union to China to North Korea to Pakistan (via the A.Q. Kahn network) and elsewhere including to Iran, which has witnessed close-up North Korean tests of interest.
- In fact, North Korea sells most anything to anyone with money. And al-Qaeda has money. Whether North Korea or especially Iran would fear retaliation if they were to launch a nuclear attack on the United States is debatable. Ahmadinejad has openly advocated pressing for the return of the Mahdi—and such an attack might be viewed by some as Iran’s contribution to hastening the end times. Al-Qaeda operatives have openly committed suicide in the hopes of killing just a few citizens of the “Little” or “Great” Satan; surely they would, if they could, jump at the possibility to kill hundreds of millions. Farfetched? Don’t you wish?
- A long-range ballistic missile is not needed to deliver a nuclear weapon to high altitude over the United States—a short range missile can be purchased for a few million dollars and launched from a vessel off our coasts to detonate an on-board nuclear weapon at a sufficiently high altitude to produce an EMP effect over large portions of the United States’ geography [The optimum altitude for a low yield weapon is 60-70km covering a region of 500-600 mile radius]. Iran tested some of its missiles in just this mode almost 15 years ago. Contrary to the White House claims about the effectiveness our current limited missile defense systems, they are not configured to shoot down such an attack—especially if it comes from the Gulf of Mexico.
- So much for the main stream media’s comforting claims about North Korea’s recent rabble rousing—which, in our opinion, should not be considered separately from Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons . . . so far ineffectively restrained by sanctions and diplomacy. The “axis of evil” is alive and well.
Nuclear vs. Solar EMP Bottom Lines?
- EMP threats from both natural and manmade causes are plausible and possibly imminent.
- The massive solar flares witnessed earlier this week missed us only because the earth was not in the line of fire—what about next time? During the current “maxima,” which is in effect for the next year or so?
- North Korea may already have the capability to create an EMP that would “level the playing field” by reducing the U.S. economy to be comparable to that of their destitute society, and conditions by which they might pass that capability to Iran and other surrogates are not unimaginable.
How should the “powers that be” consider dealing with these threats?
Notably, there is at least one common element of these two threats: the long-wave EMP coupling to long power lines that interconnect the major power plants of the electric power grid—and the resulting pulse could destroy the large transformers at each plant, which probably could not be replaced for many months—even years, if ever. Whatever else is done, addressing this serious vulnerability deserves high priority.
As noted in our last email, this corrective measure is particularly important for our 104 nuclear power reactors at 65 sites in 31 states, which produce about 20-percent of the nation’s electric power. Several hundred electrically cooled nuclear reactor spent-fuel pools are also at risk. Losing the electric grid potentially could lead to fuel meltdown conditions with radiation releases not unlike what occurred with three co-located nuclear power reactors following the earthquake/tsunami in Japan two years ago.
Of the two threats, the nuclear produced EMP threat is more severe because, in addition to the “low-frequency” field waveform that threatens the power grid transformers, it produces higher frequency field waveforms that will damage critical electronic components, and that might also create catastrophic conditions in the nation’s networks that support banking, transportation, communications, etc. as well as the electric power grid. However, if appropriate preparations are made, key electronics can be hardened and/or replaced.
As discussed in our last email, the Washington agencies one would expect to be responsible for these and other countermeasures are not doing their job—indeed they seem to be taking a “head in the sand” approach with respect to the entire problem, each perhaps suggesting that coping is someone else’s responsibility. Adult management is needed. Below are several suggested goals.
There’s room for everyone to help with this problem, without waiting for others to move first.
So, we urge the “powers that be” to heed Yogi Berra’s advice: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
We just would add, “Don’t just stand there, do something!!!!”
And what should you do?
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public to the existential threats posed by both manmade and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.
We can use your help in spreading the word to grass roots and local authorities to press the powers that be to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!