EMP attack danger overstated?

Dear editor,

Timothy Birdnow's article "EMP and the Unfought Victory [7/1/2006] is pure fiction.

As demonstrated in 1962 thermonuclear tests in the upper atmosphere, it takes a fairly heavy hydrogen bomb [10 megaton+] to generate significant EMP waves over thousands of miles that will actually cause anywhere near the devastation claimed in Mr. Birdnow's article.  Even then, no mass wipeout of all vehicles as described is likely at all due to shielding of steel vehicle body, and most of the power plants could soon be put back on line.

Smaller weapons, even as much as the "Starfish Prime," 9:00 9 July
1962 (GMT), at Johnston Island, Airburst; 248 miles up, Yield:  1450 kt, did not do extensive EMP damage at only 800 miles distance.*

The only known nuclear weapon that N. Korea has is the limited fission type of weapon that is comprised of either enriched Uranium 235 or plutonium U239.  Both types are restrained by the "critical mass" limit, above which a single element might spontaneously detonate and destroy the entire weapons facility.  Thus, the largest fission bombs known would probably be under 40 kilotons equiv. explosive power related to TNT.  The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were both under 25 kilotons.

Given the very limited EMP damage observed from the Starfish test, it is almost certain that any bomb that is only 40,000 / 1,450,000 times as strong, or only 2.8% of the energy, could not cause any meaningful EMP damage from high altitude at all.  Even one of the 1962 tests failed to show any evidence of electronic radio interference like the Starfish detonation caused.  Thus, these "chicken little" scare stories are baloney that is meant to needlessly frighten naive Americans.

Please run a correction to this ridiculous scare story ASAP.

Best regards,

Eugene Keech, retired electronic engineer [was designer of tape reader for AWACS aircraft to boot computers if EMP knocked out mag tape units]

(*See: this for details on 1962 tests.)

Dear editor,

Timothy Birdnow's article "EMP and the Unfought Victory [7/1/2006] is pure fiction.

As demonstrated in 1962 thermonuclear tests in the upper atmosphere, it takes a fairly heavy hydrogen bomb [10 megaton+] to generate significant EMP waves over thousands of miles that will actually cause anywhere near the devastation claimed in Mr. Birdnow's article.  Even then, no mass wipeout of all vehicles as described is likely at all due to shielding of steel vehicle body, and most of the power plants could soon be put back on line.

Smaller weapons, even as much as the "Starfish Prime," 9:00 9 July
1962 (GMT), at Johnston Island, Airburst; 248 miles up, Yield:  1450 kt, did not do extensive EMP damage at only 800 miles distance.*

The only known nuclear weapon that N. Korea has is the limited fission type of weapon that is comprised of either enriched Uranium 235 or plutonium U239.  Both types are restrained by the "critical mass" limit, above which a single element might spontaneously detonate and destroy the entire weapons facility.  Thus, the largest fission bombs known would probably be under 40 kilotons equiv. explosive power related to TNT.  The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were both under 25 kilotons.

Given the very limited EMP damage observed from the Starfish test, it is almost certain that any bomb that is only 40,000 / 1,450,000 times as strong, or only 2.8% of the energy, could not cause any meaningful EMP damage from high altitude at all.  Even one of the 1962 tests failed to show any evidence of electronic radio interference like the Starfish detonation caused.  Thus, these "chicken little" scare stories are baloney that is meant to needlessly frighten naive Americans.

Please run a correction to this ridiculous scare story ASAP.

Best regards,

Eugene Keech, retired electronic engineer [was designer of tape reader for AWACS aircraft to boot computers if EMP knocked out mag tape units]

(*See: this for details on 1962 tests.)