Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is an intense energy field that can instantly overload or disrupt numerous electrical circuits at a distance. Modern high technology microcircuits are especially sensitive to power surges, and the possible vulnerability of U.S. civilian computer systems to the effects of EMP has been discussed in the media.
The threat of an attack against the United States involving EMP is hard to assess, but some observers indicate that it is growing along with worldwide access to newer technologies and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In the past, the threat of mutually assured destruction provided a lasting deterrent against the exchange of multiple high-yield nuclear warheads. However, now, the threat of a low-yield nuclear weapon, such as microwave weapons, that can create an EMP effect is very real.
Questions raised by this threat include:
(1) what is the United States doing to protect civilian critical infrastructure systems against the threat of EMP
(2) does the level of vulnerability of U.S. civilian and military electronics to large-scale EMP attack encourage other nations to develop or acquire nuclear weapons
(3) how likely are terrorist organizations to launch a smaller-scale EMP attack against the United States?
This report provides a threat assessment, as well as an assessment of how the private sector would be affected and legislature activity involved with the issue.
The more information we have on the matter, the better prepared we will be in the event of a high altitude EMP or microwave weapons attack.