The EMP Threat Is Real, but It Shouldn't Keep You up at Night

Apr 9, 2019 | 10:00 GMT



  • U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order requiring the U.S. government to coordinate efforts to understand, prepare for and respond to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) incident.
  • This is a prudent step given the small chance of a naturally occurring EMP incident, and the even smaller chance of an intentional EMP attack on the United States.
  • It is important not to exaggerate the consequences of a naturally occurring EMP incident, or to hype the probability of an EMP attack. 
  • The EMP threat is real, but it must be addressed in a rational manner and in proportion to other, more likely threats to the U.S. electrical grid and other infrastructure. 

The revival of great power competition has, once again, sparked concerns over the possibility of nuclear war. And the recent emergence of new nuclear powers, such as North Korea and Iran, has only stoked such fears -- one of which being that a country such as North Korea could use one of its nuclear warheads to attempt a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse attack against the United States. But in today's age of cyberattacks, it is important to keep the EMP threat in perspective....

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