Developing Threats: Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMP)
HC 1552, Tenth Report of Session 2010-12 - Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence
- House of Commons - Defence Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
The Defence Committee is very concerned that a Government Department has not been identified to take immediate lead responsibility should there be a severe "space weather" event, reports 'Developing Threats: Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMP) (HC 1552)'.
A severe "space weather" event is not necessarily seen as a military problem in the first instance, but it would be likely to meet the definition of an emergency under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and call for the help of the Armed Forces. The reactive posture described by the Government appears somewhat complacent.
Technologies such as GPS, vital to the financial markets as well as the military, are known to be vulnerable to the effects of space weather or the Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMP) resultant from a nuclear weapon exploded at altitude. It is also possible to build non-nuclear devices which can disrupt electronic systems, though so far only over a limited area.
The Government must make clear exactly where lead responsibility in relation to EMP disturbances lie, both nationally and within the Ministry of Defence. Defence alone cannot protect against the threat of EMP. It must be a concern of the National Security Council and civil contingency planners, with proper standards of protection developed with the vital service industries most at risk. The effects of a High Altitude Electro-Magnetic Pulse Event as a result of a nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude would be so serious that only government action could be expected to mitigate it.
Security of satellites is a matter of growing concern as our reliance upon such systems and the sheer number of satellites in orbit increase.
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