NBC Weapons: Serious, Unpublicized, Side Effects of an EMP Attack

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NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS

December 27, 2006: Iran continues to predict the imminent destruction of Israel, and promises to do what it can to help make that happen. Israel responds with dark threats of countermeasures that will prevent Iranian plans from working. Most people think that the most likely Israeli response is air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. But Israel has another weapon available, but one with serious side effects. Israel has a satellite launch capability that could put a nuclear weapon in low orbit (about 200 kilometers up). Once over Iran, the nuclear bomb could be detonated, and create an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse), which would destroy most of the military and civilian electronics in Iran. That would be a major setback to the Iranian nuclear weapons program, and the Iranian economy. There would be ugly side effects. The nuclear blast would also create a temporary belt of intense radiation, which would destroy or damage many of the low earth orbit satellites up there. There would be $100 billion, or more, in damage to these satellites, and several years of disrupted communications, GPS and weather prediction service until all the damaged satellites could be replaced. It's this collateral damage, more than anything else, that protects Iran from this kind of attack.

Then again, what's to prevent Iran or North Korea from setting off a nuke in low orbit, just to mess up everyone's satellites? Sounds like a great extortion opportunity. This is one reason more and more satellites are being hardened to resist the kind of radiation surge high altitude EMP would produce. But most of the stuff in low orbit is not hardened, and even the birds that are so protected, are not invulnerable to EMP, just less vulnerable.

 


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