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U.K. Must do More to Prepare For EMP Attack, Lawmakers Say

British lawmakers called on their government do more to prepare for the possibility that terrorists or an enemy nation could detonate a nuclear bomb high in the atmosphere in an attack that could have disastrous ramifications for the country, the BBC reported on Wednesday (see GSN, Dec. 12, 2011).

The House of Commons' Defense Select Committee said in a report that radiation produced by an electromagnetic pulse strike could disable electrical grids, GPS systems, and computer chips used in weapons technology.

An EMP assault is "quite likely," according to the committee chairman, Conservative lawmaker James Arbuthnot.

"The consequences if it did happen would be so devastating that we really ought to start protecting against it now," he told BBC Radio 4.

The Defense Select Committee accused the government of being "somewhat complacent" about the threat and urged London to allocate more resources toward installing tougher electronic infrastructure that could withstand a high-altitude nuclear attack.

"The defense really is to build up the resilience of the electronic infrastructure by, over a period of time, replacing the incredibly delicate and vulnerable systems and chips and connections that we now have with the more hardened chips and connections and systems that are available at a not very expensive price, as you're doing your routine maintenance," Arbuthnot said.

He asserted that an EMP attack would do more damage to the country than a nuclear bomb detonated within or over a city. "The reason for that is it would , over a much wider area, take out things like the national grid, on which we all rely for almost everything, take out the water system, the sewage system. And rapidly it would become very difficult to live in cities" (BBC, Feb. 22).

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