Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 141008
Protect America from the EMP Threat!
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
October 8, 2014
The rise of the Islamic State and its objective of re-establishing an Islamic caliphate committed to destroying Western civilization highlights a threat the U.S. has ignored for decades. The ability to launch nuclear armed ballistic missiles is not beyond its prospective capabilities and exists already from North Korea and possibly soon from Iran. The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a single nuclear warhead detonated 100 miles or so over the U.S. could destroy our unhardened electric power grid—leading to the death of several hundred million Americans within the following year. It’s time to counter this threat!
Last weekend the Investor’s Business Daily published a paper by Dr. Robert Pfaltzgraff and yours truly, summarizing the above highlighted threat and what to do about it—much of which will be familiar to readers of High Frontier’s weekly emails. (Click here for our paper, entitled “How To Protect A Vulnerable America From EMP Threat.”) For years our Independent Working Group (IWG) also has sought to awaken all who would listen. (See our webpage for key IWG publications, on the right just below the picture of President Reagon on the phone—or click here.)
It’s hard to capture such an important subject in less than a thousand words, and some of our important claims may not be understood without some more detailed elaboration. Thus, today’s message will review a couple of very important ones—of perhaps pressing importance.
We wrote that the “powers that be” were dealing with only first of three EMP attack scenarios:
1) Nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles launched over the North Pole, say by North Korea or Iran;
2) Nuclear-armed short-, medium- or intermediate-range missiles fired by rogue states or terrorists from ships off our East or West coasts and from the Gulf of Mexico; and
3) Nuclear-armed satellites launched over the South Pole by North Korea or Iran.
This week, we’ll focus on the third of these threats—because of recent reports that North Korea is preparing for a satellite launch, perhaps before the end of the year.
Counter North Korean Satellite Threat from the South.
Last week, press accounts (E.g., click here.) observed that North Korea completed preparation of its Sohae Satellite Launching Station to accommodate larger rockets with heavier payloads, which could be launched by the end of 2014.
Notably, this article emphasizes the importance of these developments in the context of demonstrating North Korea’s development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could attack the United States with a nuclear weapon—notably, without so stating, in a trajectory over the North Pole.
Such an event is, of course, a possible plan for North Korea—which already has such an ICBM capability. But why not use the Sohae Satellite Launching Station to launch a satellite carrying a nuclear weapon over the South Polar region—duh????
You would think that at least a discerning press would ask such a question even if our apparently clueless government does not.
After all, this would simply repeat North Korea’s December 2012 satellite launch from the same site, again with its Unha-3 rocket. What if this time it carried a nuclear weapon in essentially the same trajectory over the South Pole as two years ago—to be detonated a hundred or so miles over the central United States? What would we do? Indeed, what could we do?
We discussed this very issue several times during the past year, most recently in our August 25th message (Click here.) The figure below, from that message, illustrates the Unha-3 launch trajectory on the left. Note the short distance to first stage burnout, when a boost-phase intercept is most feasible. The right hand section summarizes an interception strategy to counter the threat—if only we take advantage of our existing ballistic missile defense (BMD) capabilities in an intelligent way, as alluded to in our Investor’s Business Daily article.
If our Aegis BMD crews are authorized, prepared and located on a ship near the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, they could use the SM-2 Block IV air defense interceptor to shoot down the satellite launcher during its boost phase. The North Korean launcher is particularly vulnerable while its boosters are burning and it is accelerating, especially during its first stage burn. (See the above figure to get a feeling for possible locations for the Aegis BMD ship.)
Software modifications might be required to intercept a rocket moving upward rather than a rocket moving more horizontally to attack the Navy’s ships—but there is no physics reason why this cannot be accomplished. Needed software modifications should take no longer than those in 2008 that enabled the Navy’s SM-3 interceptor to shoot down a satellite—in something on the order of 6-weeks after President Bush’s go-ahead decision.
But the authorization for the crew to accomplish such an intercept presents a serious operations challenge. There simply is not time for the ship’s Captain to consult with his chain of command before physics demands that he must launch his SM-2 interceptor. That authorization must be delegated to him in advance—and he must be ready to act immediately.
To aid in gaining such pre-delegation, we recommend a diplomatic initiative—the President should announce that unless the North Koreans agree to permit an inspection of the planned payload for such a southern satellite launch, we will shoot it down. We could indicate a willingness to have the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to accomplish this inspection—perhaps using the technology tools used to verify the START and INF Treaties negotiated with the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and 90s.
After the Unha-3 (or another rocket) gains sufficient speed, a nearby Aegis BMD system will no longer be able to shoot it down because it will be moving away faster than the Standard Missile interceptors can catch up. Intercept opportunities then may exist from ships further away—then via a “side shot” of the orbiting satellite as in the 2008 Burnt Frost shootdown. (The Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IA interceptor was the system of choice to shoot down a dying satellite that threatened to spread toxic fuel over U.S. and other cities. As the SM-3 is modernized, its capability improves.)
To accomplish that objective additional sensor information would be most helpful—and a radar site in the Philippines could provide that help. The above figure illustrates how the North Korean satellite overflies the Philippines.
The TPY-2 radar, now in production for deployment with the Army’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense—THAAD (which does not have the range capability of the SM-3) and the Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland, would be most helpful. Such joint U.S.-Philippine operations would constitute a worthy diplomatic initiative. The administration could engage the Philippine government in the context of the April 28, 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. and Philippines. Click here for our May 8, 2014 discussion of this diplomatic opportunity, and here for an additional brief analysis of its terms.
With this TPY-2 radar information and data from other sensors—including our space systems and Aegis ships in the Pacific, our Aegis BMD ships may have a shot at the threat satellite before it overflies U.S. territory. Like Burnt Frost in 2008.
Finally, the ground-based missile defense (GMD) system on Vandenberg Air Force Base, California can exploit this same sensor data to take a shot at the approaching North Korean satellite before it overflies U.S. territory.
The key is that long-standing Boy Scout Motto: “BE PREPARED.”
An adjunct to the above steps should be to prepare to destroy the satellite launch vehicles on their launch pads—as former Defense Secretary William Perry and former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter originally recommended in their June 8, 2008 Washington Post article (Click here.), then to deal with the North Korean nuclear-armed ICBM threat.
The EMP from a southward launched nuclear armed satellite is much more dangerous than the ICBM threat, for which we have deployed at least a limited defense. We are completely vulnerable to such attacks from the south.
And the Iranian Satellite Threat?
As in previous North Korean satellite launches (and underground nuclear tests), we should expect Iranian scientists and engineers to be present when North Korea launches its next satellite.
As we have discussed previously, Iran also launches its satellites to the South—over the South Polar region and they can overfly the United States on it their first orbit. Click here for our discussion over a year ago, on April 24, 2013. Among other things, we heralded Iran’s January 28, 2013 launch of a 4400 pound satellite carrying a monkey into space and returning it to earth.
It carried much more than enough payload needed for a nuclear weapon—including designs that maximize gamma ray production to produce EMP. The only question is, “When will they gain that capability?” Some believe North Korea already has it.
During Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to the United Nations and his several interviews with the press, his sobering analysis of Iran’s potential for gaining nuclear weapons indicated that the only thing standing in their way is processing enough uranium to build a bomb. (Click here for the full text of his September 29 UN speech.)
As should be expected, Netanyahu was not happy with the reported discussion of possible U.S. compromises in ongoing negotiations that would permit Iran to retain a “breakout” capability of building a nuclear bomb—whatever role Iran might offer in exchange for joining the fight against the Islamic State of Iran and Syria (ISIS = ISIL = Islamic State = Caliphate).
An Iranian capability of detonating a nuclear armed satellite over the “Great Satan” United States should not be ignored in considering these matters. As Netanyahu stated, Israel is only the Little Satan. Hello!!!!
At a minimum, the United States should counter such an Iranian initiative with the same policies and technical initiatives discussed above for countering a North Korea nuclear-armed satellite traversing the United States from over the South Polar regions.
Since there may be more time before Iran gains this capability, other defensive options also should be developed, such as launching boost-phase interceptors from drones that could more easily than Aegis ships patrol near some of the Iranian satellite launch sites. (Click here for our earlier discussion of this possibility—which should be easily and quickly achieved by modifying and employing some of our currently operating drones.)
And ISIS Threats?
In addition to protecting against the physical attack scenarios discussed in out last message, we should worry about the possibility of ISIS getting a nuclear weapon and wedding it to a SCUD missile that could be launched from a vessel off our coasts—particularly from the Gulf of Mexico. (This is an example of the second of the possible scenarios identified in our Investor’s Business Daily article—and not dealt with by the “powers that be.”)
If the nuclear weapon is detonated high above the U.S., it would produce the EMP of concern.
Of particular interest in this regard are press accounts of possible cooperation between ISIS and Pakistan, which is reported to have over a hundred nuclear weapons.
In particular, click here for a recent World Net Daily article by Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon security policy analyst. His article, “Pakistani terror group swears allegiance to ISIS,” reports that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)—a Taliban group seeking to overthrow the Pakistani government—has directed jihadi groups across the region to help ISIS set up its caliphate.
Maloof reports that the TTP, like ISIS, is funded by supporters in Gulf Arab countries to include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates—also our alleged allies in the air campaign against ISIS. More of that tangled web we are weaving.
TTP’s swearing of allegiance to ISIS potentially extends its influence and potential for a caliphate from the Middle east into South Asia. And Pakistan, where the Taliban sheltered Osama bin Laden for nine years, has nuclear weapons—and many ballistic missiles that could be used to launch them from vessels off our coasts.
Connect the dots! This ISIS threat may be more remote than from Iran, but it should not be ignored.
More to come on possible countermeasures.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
Given the lethargy in Washington in countering these threats to all we hold dear, we will continue informing all who will listen, about the existential threat and expanding our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the electric power grid and counter the threat. This work will go hand in hand with efforts of State legislators who are seeking to expand on the excellent work of those in Maine and Virginia, who have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without a single negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We are working with South Carolina National Guard to plan tabletop exercises to help them understand how best to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to understand and respond to this serious threat. We also are supporting related activities in neighboring and other states.
We are informing SC state legislators and senators about the threat and what can be done to deal with it—hopefully they will follow Maine and Virginia in seeking to harden the electric power grid. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—and who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia, to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into Virginia and the National Capital region.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
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.
And support us with your tax deductible gifts to help enable our continuing efforts.