Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Iranian EMP Attack

LGF has a WorldNetDaily piece suggesting those pesky Mullahs are planning to wipe out the US economy with an EMP nuke. I doubt it.

Iran is not only covertly developing nuclear weapons, it is already testing ballistic missiles specifically designed to destroy America’s technical infrastructure, effectively neutralizing the world’s lone superpower, say U.S. intelligence sources, top scientists and western missile industry experts.

The radical Shiite regime has conducted successful tests to determine if its Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, can be detonated by a remote-control device while still in high-altitude flight.

Last time I looked there were 476 Comments on LGF, many of the "head for the hills" variety. For such people, I recommend as the classic post-nuke survival book Pat Frank's Alas Babylon - the science is sound, and it enumerates all the things you need to do to stay alive. Another good book about the effects of a strike with a big EMP component is Warday, by Whitley Strieber & James Kunetka.

EMP is an ElectroMagnetic Pulse produced by a nuclear explosion. The only real experimentation was on a high altitude 1.4 Megaton detonation in 1961. It was about 800 miles from Hawaii and:

Street lights and fuses failed on Oahu and telephone service was disrupted on the Island of Kauai.

Since then, military hardware has been hardened against EMP - there are big test frames into which you wheel your B-2 bomber to check that it's suitably shielded.

But that leaves Wall Street, our SUVs, and our iPods. Some people fear that all civilian electronics in the US would be fried by a big thermonuclear detonation 250 miles over Kansas.

However, this source seems to me to be the most knowledgeable about EMP, and it says (my ellipsis):

In principle, even a new nuclear proliferator could execute (an EMP) strike. In practice, however, it seems unlikely that such a state would use one of its scarce warheads to inflict damage which must be considered secondary to the primary effects of blast, shock, and thermal pulse.

Furthermore, (an EMP) attack must use a relatively large warhead to be effective (perhaps on the order of one megaton), and new proliferators are unlikely to be able to construct such a device, much less make it small enough to be lofted to high altitude by a ballistic missile or space launcher.

Not to mention that the attack has to be via ballistic missile. Which will be observed by multiple space and ground based tracking systems, and traced back to its launch point in a fraction of a second. After which the offending nation would be thoroughly whacked.

Unless the US has a Dimocrat President that is.

But all that means is that Dimocrats are much more dangerous to the US than Mullahs with nukes...