Surprise Electromagnetic Attack From China Part of Beijing’s ‘New Blitzkrieg’ Strategy: Experts

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An EMP attack centered over New York City could cover the entirety of the northeastern United States, paralyzing the power grid and sparking mass chaos

The United States is vulnerable to attack from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), according to experts. Such an attack could devastate the nation’s power grid and wipe out vast swaths of the population.

“The risk of an EMP attack on U.S. infrastructure is very high, particularly in this international environment,” said Sam Kessler, a geopolitical adviser at North Star Support Group, a multinational risk-management firm.

The news comes amid growing concerns about the Chinese regime’s expanding military capabilities and its alleged development of first-strike nuclear capabilities.

What Is an EMP Attack?

An EMP is a burst of electromagnetic energy that disrupts communications and damages electronic equipment. An EMP can be created by nuclear missiles, radiofrequency weapons, and natural phenomena such as geomagnetic storms.

While any nuclear weapon can create an EMP, specialized EMP weapons such as so-called super-EMP bombs generate particularly strong gamma radiation that multiplies the effect of the pulse, extending the destruction over a greater range.

Example of estimated impact area of high-altitude electromagnetic pulse, by altitude of the burst.
Source: Gary Smith, “Electromagnetic Pulse Threats,” Testimony before the House Committee on National Security (July 16, 1997) Credit: GAO-16-243

Such an attack, if centered over New York City, for example, would cover the entirety of the northeastern United States, according to a statement to Congress by Peter Pry, an EMP expert and the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory body.

In a slide deck (see PDF below) from 2018, Pry said that a high-altitude EMP blast could knock out 74.4 percent of U.S. power generation capacity. Such an attack could cause months-long losses of electrical power and create cascading effects for food, water, and heat supplies, and resulting in a mass loss of life.

“EMP weapons offer Russia, China, and the ICBM-armed rogue states a fast, cheap and effective means to make most Americans feel immediately the horrors of war, making them attractive to enemies who seek to create pressure on the U.S. leadership to capitulate or negotiate,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

In a report compiled by Pry in June of 2020, he said that China assuredly already has super EMPs in its possession, and that hypersonic systems could be used to deliver them.

“Taiwan military intelligence in open sources credits China with having a Super-EMP nuclear weapon—based on design information stolen from the U.S. nuclear weapon labs,” the report states.

“China is on the verge of deploying or has already deployed hypersonic weapons that could potentially be armed with nuclear or non-nuclear EMP warheads, greatly increasing the threat of surprise attack against U.S. forces in the Pacific and against the United States.”

By Andrew Thornebrooke

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