WASHINGTON Former CIA chief James Woolsey affirms the
work of a special commission investigating the threat of
a nuclear-bomb generated electromagnetic pulse attack on
the U. S. by rogue states or terrorists and is urging the
country to take steps necessary to protect against the
potentially devastating consequences.
In testimony before the House International Terrorism and
Non-Proliferation Subcommittee, chaired by Ed Royce,
R-Calif., Woolsey, director of the CIA from 1993 through
1995, referred to the nuclear EMP threat, characterized
in intelligence circles, he said, as "a SCUD in a
"That is a simple ballistic missile from a stockpile
somewhere in the world outfitted on something like a
tramp steamer and fired from some distance offshore into
an American city or to a high altitude, thereby creating
an electromagnetic pulse effect, which could well be one
of the most damaging ways of using a nuclear weapon," he
Woolsey commended the Commission to Assess the Threat to
the United States from EMP Attack for its years of work
on the subject and for its dire report concluding that it
is a means of attack that could lead to the defeat of the
U. S. by a much smaller enemy and utter devastation of
"That is a very
serious threat," he told the committee. "And one thing we
need badly to do is to figure out ways to harden our
electricity grid and various types of key nodes so that
electromagnetic pulse blasts of nuclear weapons, or other
ways of generating electromagnetic pulse, even if it
knocks out our toaster ovens will not knock out, for
example, our electricity grid."
Woolsey, like the commission, specifically mentioned the
new dimension a nuclear Iran would add to the risk of
such an attack.
"We do not have the luxury of assuming that Iran, if it
develops fissionable materials, for example, would not
share it under some circumstances with al-Qaida
operatives," he said. "We don't have the luxury of
believing that just because North Korea is a communist
state, it would not work under some circumstances to sell
its fissionable material to Hezbollah or al-Qaida."
There is increasing concern within the administration and
Congress over Iran's missile program, which has been
determined by a commission of U. S. scientists to pose a
serious threat to U. S. security.
A report first published in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, a
weekly, online, premium, intelligence newsletter
affiliated with WND, revealed last week that Iran has
been seriously considering an unconventional pre-emptive
nuclear strike against the U. S.
An Iranian military journal publicly floated the idea of
launching an electromagnetic pulse attack as the key to
defeating the U. S.
Congress was warned of Iran's plans last month by Peter
Pry, a senior staffer with the Commission to Assess the
Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse
Attack in a hearing of Sen. John Kyl's subcommittee on
terrorism, technology and homeland security.
In an article
titled, "Electronics to Determine Fate of Future Wars,"
the journal explains how anEMPattack on America's
electronic infrastructure, caused by the detonation of a
nuclear weapon high above the U. S., would bring the
country to its knees.
"Once you confuse the enemy communication network you can
also disrupt the work of the enemy command- and
decision-making center," the article states. "Even worse
today when you disable a country's military high command
through disruption of communications, you will, in
effect, disrupt all the affairs of that country. If the
world's industrial countries fail to devise effective
ways to defend themselves against dangerous electronic
assaults then they will disintegrate within a few years.
American soldiers would not be able to find food to eat
nor would they be able to fire a single shot."
WND reported the Iranian threat last Monday, explaining
Tehran is not only covertly developing nuclear weapons,
it is already testing ballistic missiles specifically
designed to destroy America's technical
Pry pointed out the Iranians have been testing mid-air
detonations of their Shahab-3 medium-range missile over
the Caspian Sea. The missiles were fired from ships.
"A nuclear missile concealed in the hold of a freighter
would give Iran or terrorists the capability to perform
an EMP attack against the United States homeland without
developing an ICBM and with some prospect of remaining
anonymous," explained Pry. "Iran's Shahab-3 medium range
missile mentioned earlier is a mobile missile and small
enough to be transported in the hold of a freighter. We
cannot rule out that Iran, the world's leading sponsor of
international terrorism might provide terrorists with the
means to executive an EMP attack against the United
Lowell Wood, acting chairman of the commission, said
yesterday that such an attack by Iran or some other
actor could cripple the U. S. by knocking out
electrical power, computers, circuit boards controlling
most automobiles and trucks, banking systems,
communications and food and water supplies.
"No one can say just how long systems would be down," he
said. "It could be weeks, months or even years."
EMP attacks are generated when a nuclear weapon is
detonated at altitudes above a few dozen kilometers above
the Earth's surface. The explosion, of even a small
nuclear warhead, would produce a set of electromagnetic
pulses that interact with the Earth's atmosphere and the
Earth's magnetic field.
"These electromagnetic pulses propagate from the burst
point of the nuclear weapon to the line of sight on the
Earth's horizon, potentially covering a vast geographic
region in doing so simultaneously, moreover, at the speed
of light," said Wood. "For example, a nuclear weapon
detonated at an altitude of 400 kilometers over the
central United States would cover, with its primary
electromagnetic pulse, the entire continent of the United
States and parts of Canada and Mexico."
The commission, in its work over a period of several
years, found that EMP is one of a small number of threats
that has the potential to hold American society seriously
at risk and that might also result in the defeat of U. S.
"The electromagnetic field pulses produced by weapons
designed and deployed with the intent to produce EMP have
a high likelihood of damaging electrical power systems,
electronics and information systems upon which any
reasonably advanced society, most specifically including
our own, depend vitally," Wood said. "Their effects on
systems and infrastructures dependent on electricity and
electronics could be sufficiently ruinous as to qualify
as catastrophic to the American nation."