Electomagnetic Pulse (EMP)
An Electromagnetic Pulse or EMP is a threat that has existed for several years now but has only been recognized as a threat in recent years. This section is referencing an Electromagnetic Pulse that is created by an attack from another source but the same event can be created by a solar flare.
The United States EMP commission was authorized by Congress in Fiscal Year 2001 and then re-authorized in Fiscal Year 2006. The mission of this commission is to assess the threat to the United States from an Electromagnetic Pulse attack.
The former Soviet Union and the United States have conducted Electromagnetic Pulse tests in the past. At this time the only countries that are believed to be capable of delivering an Electromagnetic Pulse device is the United States, Russia, and China. It is currently believed that North Korea, who has been testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear tests in 2011 is in the process of developing am EMP device.
Consider North Korea, at the best they could only develop a few nuclear devices. Not nearly enough to stage a first strike on South Korea or the United States without a reprisal and destruction of their own country.
However, if they could explode one Electromagnetic Pulse device 500km in the atmosphere over North America, they could wipe out our entire electric grid, all communications and electronics.
Strategically, this still would be a bad move on their part as our offshore defenses and submarines would still be operational and we would be able to retaliate if we could confirm that they were the ones who pulled the trigger.
A lesser threat at this time are the Middle Eastern States and others who support terrorist. The nuclear weapons that they are developing or possess may not have the power to knock out our entire grid nor do they have an adequate delivery system.
This could change within the next five years. The threat here is that they could develop or acquire the weapon, load it on a freighter and launch it a few hundred miles from our coast.
An EMP attack would have basically the same impact as a massive solar flare in that no humans would be directly harmed by the explosion but many will die immediately from the affects such as driving cars out of control flying in airplanes, etc. Since all electronics will be burned up there will be no communications, no running water, no transportation and the store shelves will be empty within a day.
Another way that an EMP event can occur is if the earth was to experience a large scale solar flare. See the section on Solar Flares for more information.
This will be a level four event based on our rating or disasters and emergencies affecting us on a national level. You should be aware of the contingencies that could be experienced with such an event and make sure that your personal Emergency Preparedness Plan includes adequate provisions for an event of such magnitude.