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[] 1.10.01: EMP-Terror-Hype 2,

Associated Press 
October 1, 2001 

Experts cite electromagnetic pulse as terrorist threat 

With the nation guarding against atomic, biological, chemical and hijacked airliner attacks, exerts see little protection from a weapon that could cripple computers and key electronic systems. The danger is from an electromagnetic pulse - a powerful, split-second wave of energy from a nuclear bomb. Some of the last full-scale nuclear weapons tests conducted in 1992 at the Nevada Test Site northwest of Las Vegas were designed to protect or "harden" military systems against electronic failure in a nuclear exchange. However, little of that preventive technology has been applied to civilian equipment, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. 

"I don't think there has been any significant effort to harden the private sector against electromagnetic pulse," said John Pike, director of, a defense and intelligence policy organization based near Washington, D.C. 

Twice in the past four years, and as recently as 1999, Congress was warned that detonating a relatively small, 10-kiloton nuclear bomb over the U.S. would produce a burst of energy equal to 10,000 tons of TNT. 

Such a burst, sometimes referred to as an EMP, could yield tens of thousands of volts of energy and cause widespread damage to computer chips and electronic equipment. The phenomenon could cripple an economy dependent on computer networks and electronic communication systems. The damage from burnout or overloads on electrical circuits would extend far beyond the area directly affected by the blast and radiation, government scientists have told Congress. 

Officials with Nevada Power Co. and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, two key Las Vegas Valley public utilities, said their electrical systems have no protections against EMP. "We did not design our system with that in mind," Nevada Power spokeswoman Sonya Headen said. "To our knowledge, there isn't any utility in the country that was designed to withstand EMP." 

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration's Western Pacific Region Defense and the Threat Reduction Agency, which replaced some functions of the now-defunct Defense Nuclear Agency, did not immediately respond to Review-Journal inquiries about electromagnetic pulse protection. Pike said the risk to FAA systems from electromagnetic pulse is probably classified. 

However, government scientists have discussed the issue of potential EMP damage on military and civilian systems during congressional meetings. Lowell Wood, a prominent physicist from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, told a House Armed Services subcommittee in October 1999 that nuclear warheads on a kiloton scale can have a greater EMP threat than nuclear warheads on the megaton scale. 

Two years earlier, Wood told the subcommittee that the threat to semiconductor-based U.S. power grids and communication systems have increased substantially since electromagnetic pulse was detected during nuclear testing four decades ago. He told the subcommittee in 1997 that civilian passenger jets are also at risk - particularly at night, when they could be lost without communications, landing beacons and runway lights. 

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