President Donald Trump took a major step this week to protect the United States from one of the most serious threats the nation faces, which experts have warned about for decades: an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
Trump became the first national leader to call for the protection of the U.S. power grid from an EMP attack, an event that North Korea recently simulated, the Washington Examiner reported.
Two of the biggest proponents for protecting the U.S. from EMP attacks — Dr. William R. Graham and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry — praised Trump for taking the bold step that many in Washington, D.C. have resisted for years:
President Donald Trump on Monday (December 18, 2017) in what may well be remembered as an historic speech describing his new "America First" National Security Strategy, broke new ground by promising to protect U.S. critical infrastructures from "cyber, physical, and electromagnetic attacks."
After 8 years of the Obama Administration ignoring the existential threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP), President Trump deserves the gratitude of his nation for being the first president to include EMP in his National Security Strategy.
In early fall, Graham and Pry testified to Congress about the threat in which they referenced a writing from Ambassador Henry Cooper, who was the former Director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative and a preeminent expert on missile defenses and space weapons. Cooper warned that an EMP attack on the U.S. would be catastrophic and that up to 90% of the U.S. population would die as a result:
U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) interceptors are designed to intercept a few North Korean ICBMs that approach the United States over the North Polar region. But current U.S. BMD systems are not arranged to defend against even a single ICBM that approaches the United States from over the South Polar region, which is the direction toward which North Korea launches its satellites. … So, North Korea doesn’t need an ICBM to create this existential threat. It could use its demonstrated satellite launcher to carry a nuclear weapon over the South Polar region and detonate it … over the United States to create a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP). … The result could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans — as the EMP Commission testified over eight years ago.
In the National Security Strategy plan that Trump released earlier this week, he specifically called out the threat posed to U.S. national security from EMP attacks:
Critical infrastructure keeps our food fresh, our houses warm, our trade f lowing, and our citizens productive and safe. The vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructure to cyber, physical, and electromagnetic attacks means that adversaries could disrupt military command and control, banking and financial operations, the electrical grid, and means of communication.
To improve the security and resilience of our critical infrastructure, we will assess risk across six key areas: national security, energy and power, banking and finance, health and safety, communications, and transportation. We will assess where cyberattacks could have catastrophic or cascading consequences and prioritize our protective efforts, capabilities, and defenses accordingly.
The move by Trump also fulfills one of his campaign promises that he made in the 2016 Republican Party Platform that helped him win the election:
Protection Against an Electromagnetic Pulse: A single nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude over this country would collapse our electrical grid and other critical infrastructures and endanger the lives of millions. With North Korea in possession of nuclear missiles and Iran close to having them, an EMP is no longer a theoretical concern — it is a real threat. Moreover, China and Russia include sabotage as part of their warfare planning. Nonetheless, hundreds of electrical utilities in the United States have not acted to protect themselves from EMP, and they cannot be expected to do so voluntarily since homeland security is a government responsibility. The President, the Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the States, the utilities, and the private sector should work together on an urgent basis to ... protect the national grid and encourage states to take the initiative to protect their own grids expeditiously.
Dr. Pry joined conservative icon Mark Levin in 2016 where he explained what an EMP attack is and the threat that it poses to the United States.
Dr. Pry is the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional advisory boards. He also served as the chief of staff on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA.