Experts are warning that the United States is vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) assault from adversaries akin to China, and that point is operating out to spend money on defending the nation from it.

“That poses a real threat of possibly being able to win a war with a single blow by means of an EMP attack,” Peter Vincent Pry, the manager director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, said during a virtual forum hosted by the Universal Peace Federation Tuesday. “Moreover … they don’t envision employing an EMP by itself. It would be used in conjunction with cyberattacks and physical sabotage, and non-nuclear EMP.” 

The U.S. electrical grid and different infrastructure – akin to communications and transportation techniques and water and sewer providers – may all be devastated by such an assault, experts like Pry warn, noting that point is of the essence for the U.S. to defend itself.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping
(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)


China already possesses “super EMPs” and final summer season examined a brand new hypersonic glide car that analysts warn may deploy the EMP and trigger a long-lasting blackout that may shut down key infrastructure and cripple the army’s capability to talk.

While such an assault can be “bloodless” at first, experts warn {that a} yearlong blackout brought on by an EMP may kill an estimated 90% of the American inhabitants.

“It’s bloodless, at least initially,” mentioned Plamen Doynov, a professor on the University of Missouri-Kansas City and chief expertise officer on the firm EMP Shield.

More worrisome is the concept that international locations with out leading edge army expertise may efficiently launch an EMP assault, which means much less superior adversaries akin to North Korea may strike a devastating blow towards the U.S. homeland.


“There is no need for precision. North Korea doesn’t need to have a very good ballistic missile in order to precisely deploy and detonate the weapon,” Doynov warned.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korean chief Kim Jong Un (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service by way of AP, File)

China has invested closely in its EMP program, with a technique that “emphasizes suppressing, degrading, disrupting or deceiving enemy electronic equipment throughout the continuum of a conflict while protecting its ability to use the cyber and electromagnetic spectrum,” reads a current Pentagon report on Chinese army capabilities. “The PLA is likely to use electronic warfare early in a conflict as a signaling mechanism to warn and deter adversary offensive action. Potential EW targets include adversary systems operating in radio, radar, microwave, infrared and optical frequency ranges, as well as adversary computer and information systems.”

If China or every other adversary akin to Russia have been to efficiently trigger a big scale blackout, Pry warns that there’s little the U.S. may do in response.

While the U.S. possesses the expertise and functionality to defend the nation’s infrastructure from such an assault, deploying it throughout a rustic that has a number of completely different state businesses and utility corporations accountable for the grid can be a problem.

“We do know how to protect against it. It’s not a technological problem. It’s a political problem,” Pry mentioned.

Former President Donald Trump took steps in 2019 to start addressing that problem, signing an government order that directed government-wide coordination to defend towards an EMP assault.


David Winks, the managing director of electromagnetic resilience agency AcquSight, believes extra could be accomplished, together with utilizing a number of the assets in President Biden’s huge infrastructure bundle to start hardening the nation’s defenses towards an EMP assault.

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“There are active protection measures that will ground the pulse as it strikes the electric system of a vehicle, for example,” Winks mentioned. “The good news is those technologies are out there, they exist.”