[ISN] Ex-CIA chief warns of EMP nuke threat

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Mon May 2 02:27:47 EDT 2005


By Joseph Farah
© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com 
May 2, 2005

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 bucket."

"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 said.

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 the country.

"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 an EMP attack 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 infrastructure.

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 States."

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. military forces.

"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."

More information about the ISN mailing list