President Bill Clinton’s former Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, led a panel discussion on Monday on the growing and imminent threat of a natural or nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) by U.S. enemies to the U.S. electrical grid and other critical infrastructures that are largely unprotected.
The event was sponsored by the newly established EMP Coalition, in coordination of the Center for Security Policy, of which Mr. Woolsey is the Honorary Co-Chair along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Other participants were Ambassador Henry Cooper and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry.
Ambassador Cooper had led the strategic arms control negotiations with the USSR under President Reagan and served as the Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization under President George H.W. Bush. Presently, he is the Chairman of High Frontier, an organization dedicated to protecting the United States from nuclear attack.
Dr. Pry served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission, as a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee and as an analyst in the CIA. He is now the Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, a congressional advisory board dedicated to national resiliency in the face of EMP and other threats.
In the little over an hour program, Mr. Woolsey warned that the sun can inflict localized EMP disasters, like the 1989 Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm that blacked out eastern Canada, causing billions of dollars in economic losses. He noted that a recent study by insurance industry leader Lloyds of London estimated that if the 1989 Geo-storm struck the east coast of the United States, 20 to 40 million Americans might be blacked out for as long as two years.
A rare geomagnetic super-storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event, would collapse electric grids and life-sustaining critical infrastructures everywhere on Earth, putting at risk the lives of billions.
“Scientists estimate that the world is overdue for another Carrington Event, and the Sun has already entered its solar maximum that shall last through 2013, when a catastrophic Geo-storm is more likely to occur,” Woolsey reported.
Mr. Woolsey also warned that an EMP catastrophe may also be imminent from terrorists and/or rogue states armed with nuclear weapons.
“North Korea already has nuclear missiles, Iran nearly so, and these two are actively collaborating. A single nuclear weapon detonated at high-altitude over this country would collapse the electric grid and other critical infrastructures and endanger the lives of millions,” said Woosley.
Woolsey also emphasized that the hundreds of electric utilities in the United States have thus far not acted to protect themselves from EMP, and cannot be expected to do so voluntarily as national defense and homeland security is a U.S. government responsibility. Woolsey urged that government regulation, by passage of the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage (SHIELD) Act now before Congress, is necessary to protect the national electric grid.
Ambassador Cooper in the video warned that North Korea may already have the capability to make a catastrophic EMP attack on the United States. On December 2012, Cooper said, North Korea used its so-called Space Launch Vehicle like a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System – a secret weapon invented by the Russians during the Cold War to deliver a stealthy nuclear attack on the United States by orbiting a nuclear weapon over the south polar region, bypassing U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning radars (BMEWs) and missile defenses.
Furthermore, Dr. Pry warned that that a disturbing confluence of events suggests an EMP attack might be imminent. Pry stated that thousands of cyber attacks using computer viruses and hacking are probing the defenses of U.S. critical infrastructures, searching for weaknesses.
Pry noted that recently, in April, a sabotage attempt was made against electric grid transformers near San Jose, CA, that damaged five transformers with fire from AK-47 assault rifles.
The act of sabotage attack on the electrical grid was largely not covered by the mainstream media. The vandals also severed fiber optic cables which knocked out some 911 services.
All of the panelists endorsed the SHIELD Act and urged that the Department of Homeland Security develop a new National Planning Scenario focused on EMP, and encouraged other states to follow the example of Maine, not wait for Washington, but pass state initiatives to protect their electric grids from EMP now.