The United States is vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks from hostile nations like communist China and North Korea. The warning came from a group of experts taking part in a forum hosted by the Universal Peace Foundation. The group also insisted that America is at a pivotal moment that will decide whether it can avoid such catastrophic scenarios.
EMP attacks target a country’s infrastructure like communication networks, water supply systems, energy grids, and transportation services. Though such attacks do not directly kill people, the infrastructure damage they inflict would create social chaos. According to the U.S. Task Force on National and Homeland Security, Beijing already possesses “super EMPs” that are capable of releasing a massive energy burst. By combining EMP weapons with modern military tactics, China can inflict serious damage on America.
“This is regarded by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran as potentially the most decisive military revolution in history… By attacking the technological Achilles heel of a nation like the United States, you could bring us to our knees and not even have to do battle with the Marines or the Navy or the Air Force, and win a war in 24 hours with a single blow — a combined EMP cyberattack,” Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the task force, said at the forum.
EMPs can allow communist China to win a war with a single targeted blow. Moreover, Beijing will be using EMP in conjunction with physical sabotage and cyberattacks, Pry warned. At present, America doesn’t have the ability to protect itself against such an attack. The issue does not lie with technology. Instead, it is a “political problem,” he said while pointing to federal bureaucracy and other factors that complicate decision-making on the matter.
In March 2019, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to prepare the United States against an EMP attack. The “Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses” order instructs integrated action from several federal agencies.
In August 2020, some media outlets reported that communist China had possibly conducted its very first EMP weapons test. Beijing is said to have used EMP pulses to knock out drones from the sky. Recently, there have been reports of China testing a hypersonic glide vehicle that can travel at high speeds and is better at avoiding detection by radars. If true, these hypersonic vehicles could give Beijing the perfect tool to deploy EMP weapons.
It is not just the U.S. that is vulnerable to Chinese EMP attacks. The Chinese, as well, are not safe against EMP attacks from the United States.
Not only is communist China home to the world’s largest power grid, but it also has the world’s largest 4G and 5G networks, a massive population of smartphone users, and a government that increasingly depends on AI, big data, and other technologies to run the country. An attack could break up these systems and create huge problems for the communist regime.
In an interview with SCMP, an anonymous researcher affiliated with the state-backed China power grid said that fortifying the current infrastructure against EMP attacks would entail an enormous cost, but it could be done and “won’t break the bank.” He believes that the key factor against an EMP war would lie in the ability to recover quickly after facing an attack.
“If a blackout happens, we will be able to rebuild our networks faster than our competitors in the US… The winner is not who attacks first, but who recovers first,” the researcher said.