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UK In Danger From Electromagnetic Bomb, Says Defense Secretary 268

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dastardly-soviets dept.
judgecorp writes "Britain must build defenses against an EMP bomb, the UK Secretary of Defense Phillip Hammond told a conference today. Electromagnetic Pulse devices mimic the result of a solar flare or a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, creating a storm of electromagnetic radiation, which can break mobile networks and satellite systems. Any preparation for solar storms must also consider the possibility of deliberate electromagnetic events, warns Hammond."
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UK In Danger From Electromagnetic Bomb, Says Defense Secretary

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  • by HighTechDev (2639159) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:21AM (#40002807)
    It's funny how similar (and crazy) both US and UK are while rest of the world lives in peace.
    • by jimmydevice (699057) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:27AM (#40002833)
      This will take needed money from the initiatives to protect the country from zombies, aliens and robots.
    • by zippo01 (688802) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:49AM (#40002915)
      What is your supporting evidence that the rest of the world is living in peace? Syria? Libya? North Korea? Iran? Or some combination of all of them?
      • by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:01AM (#40002957)

        What is your supporting evidence that the rest of the world is living in peace? Syria? Libya? North Korea? Iran? Or some combination of all of them?

        There are other countries too. Cherrypicking the 4 unsafest countries is not going to convince me that the world is at war.

        Anyway, I am not buying the latest scaremongering story that demands we spend more on defense.

        • by zippo01 (688802) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @05:05AM (#40003185)
          There are many levels between war and peace. I never said the world was at war, but it's not at peace.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @05:58AM (#40003327)

          What's unsafe about Iran? And why is it not peaceful? I don't remember Iran invading other countries and building military bases all over the world.

          Get a fucking clue.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by arth1 (260657)

            What's especially ironic is that Iran had a democratically elected government until it was deposed of by the US in operation Ajax.

          • Iran is in no way peaceful. They harass diplomats from tons of countries. They have a supreme sense of entitlement. Also while I have quite a few Muslim friends in middle eastern countries they are scared to speak out about any of the specific issues due to the fact that they HONESTLY believe that they will not live to see morning if they do.

            Does that sound peaceful to you?

            • by dkleinsc (563838)

              I think what GP is referring to is that the last time Iran attacked a foreign country was when they went after Iraq (partially at the behest of the Reagan administration) back in the 1980's. More to the point, there's no credible evidence that Iran presents a serious threat to the civilian population of US, UK, or Israel.

              • It was the other way round, Iraq attacked first. The western countries suggested to Saddam that Iran would be weak after the revolution, with most of the top generals removed (since they were loyal to the Shah) and the army was in disarray . However the revolutionary guard fought the Iraqis to a standstill. Saddam (and the west) didn't count on the willingness to fight and die of Shia fanatics.

        • by tinkerton (199273)

          In terms of spending on defense investing on this and related types of robustness looks like one of the better options. I'm always surprised how vulnerable we've made ourselves to power outages. We used to be able to still pick up the phone. With most people not anymore. Building for robustness to better handle severe conflicts, or just major financial crises where maintenance is reduced to nothing, looks worthwile. And we should at least do the exercise. Some of the design choices will be cheap but now rob

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @05:45AM (#40003299)

        Let's see:

        * Syria hasn't started any wars that I know of. It is, however, being threatened with war by the US, UK, and France.
        * Libya didn't start any wars, either. It was attacked by the US, UK, and France.
        * North Korea is ruled by a dictator who oppresses his people but hasn't started any wars.
        * Iran hasn't started any wars but has certainly been attacked by a US proxy.

        So what does that tell us about which countries want to live in peace, and which ones don't?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @06:27AM (#40003401)

          Syria: civil war.
          Libya: civil war.
          North Korea: The new dictator hasn't had any time to start wars but under the previous dictator, a South Korean warship was blown up while standing in international waters. That's an a act of war.
          Iran: Finance several groups that conduct war actions against other countries, thus engaging in war by proxies.

          • by FhnuZoag (875558)

            Uh... why is the parent marked as troll? It's basically factually correct.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Syria: civil war.

            Not really, it's Libya-style revolutionaries trying to take over the country. The US even asked the UN for a no-fly zone so they could give the revolutionaries air support like they did in Libya.

            Libya: civil war.

            Again, revolutionaries funded and advised by the West destroyed what used to be the most prosperous country in Africa. They wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of NATO which bombed cities in blatant violation of their UN mandate.

            North Korea: The new dictator hasn't had any time to start wars but under the previous dictator, a South Korean warship was blown up while standing in international waters. That's an a act of war.

            There are doubts as to whether it was an attack by North Korea, as the Sou [koreatimes.co.kr]

          • by arth1 (260657)

            Iran: Finance several groups that conduct war actions against other countries, thus engaging in war by proxies.

            "War actions"?
            Like paying to replace the the home of civilians after it got demolished by a country's military operating on foreign territory, metering out reprisals against the family of violent protesters?

            There is one country that's infamous for financing the overthrow of governments and conducting acts of war, and it isn't Iran.

          • by geekymachoman (1261484) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:37AM (#40005867)

            Ok, parental advisory ahead. Might be modded as troll, because people here really piss me off with their ignorance and fucking opinions that are nothing more then text-book propaganda, and I'm reading it every god damn day, and keeping silent about it.

            Yeah. Civil wars because "your" Government wants it, and initiates such things through NED and other organizations in foreign states. I'm Serbian btw, you did same here (in Yugoslavia). Your government (with a blessing of its people) systematically destroyed lives of countless generations in just one state. Now go to google and search for all the wars you initiated, then think of all those people living in those states, that have done nothing wrong in their life. Fuck you if you say it's collateral damage, because everything is not black and white and if you can't figure that out on yourself, then I won't bother wasting my time explaining and discussing anything with people like you.

            Every fucking war in last whatever years has been initiated in some way by western powers, for their own interests / or when the banana state stops obeying your governments or when corporate interests are there, and many other reasons.

            And you're clueless about such things. Which is why you're country is constantly at war with someone, and killing off people of some country (when you kill people it's in the name of "democracy" and "freedom " - fucking hypocritical lying fascist bastards).

            You should all be ashamed of yourself for letting these thing happen. But you'll run away and stick your head into the sand and behave like nothing is happening (again), because you either don't care or you're too dumb to "figure it out". You'll come here to comment about it, and then in few months/years go vote for next war mongering overlord which is gonna continue killing people in the name of above mentioned freedom and democracy.

        • by queBurro (1499731)
          how is blowing up Pan AM 103 not an act of war?
          • If it wasn't perpetrated by a government or government-appointed agency or operative, then it's not an act of war.
        • by jamstar7 (694492)
          Um, actually, North Korea did start a war about 60 years ago. They haven't done much lately except taunt the South Koreans from the safety of China's skirts.
        • North Korea - Is currently at war with South Korea

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        What is your supporting evidence that the rest of the world is living in peace? Syria? Libya? North Korea? Iran? Or some combination of all of them?

        all those countries have been mainly in war with their own citizens lately. that is a recurring theme of most military action on the globe in near history though(with very few exceptions).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:15AM (#40002995)

      The rest of the world lives in peace?

      You're delusional, my good chap.

      There are genocides in Africa, civil unrest and brutal crushing of riots across the largely dictator-led Middle East and North Africa, Israel-Palestine conflict, drug fueled organized crime in Central and South America threatening to tear countries apart, China and India crushing and slowly eradicating Tibet and Nepal, tribal warfare, civil war in tribal areas of Pakistan, in South Philippines, genocide in West Papua.

      • The rest of the world lives in peace?

        You're delusional, my good chap.

        There are genocides in Africa, civil unrest and brutal crushing of riots across the largely dictator-led Middle East and North Africa, Israel-Palestine conflict, drug fueled organized crime in Central and South America threatening to tear countries apart, China and India crushing and slowly eradicating Tibet and Nepal, tribal warfare, civil war in tribal areas of Pakistan, in South Philippines, genocide in West Papua.

        Thank god I live in South Africa, then ...

    • by Kergan (780543) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:19AM (#40003019)

      It's funny how similar (and crazy) both US and UK are while rest of the world lives in peace.

      This world in peace features another two States with a long history of warmongering, China and Russia, a whole continent (Africa) in which armed conflicts occurred perpetually for most of the last 50 years, a latent nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan (and China) over Kashmir, as well as actual and latent wars across the Middle East. I'd add Columbia and Mexico, but one could conceivably argue that these are small guerrilla conflicts.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AngryOldGuy (2639471)
        Could you please citate any real warmongering that China or Russia have done? My understanding is that they have only cared about their internal politics. Only when threat from the US has arisen they have had the need to answer.

        For me, both China and Russia seem much more peaceful than US.
      • I'd add Columbia and Mexico, but one could conceivably argue that these are small guerrilla conflicts.

        When 50 bodies with their heads hands and feet removed are found on the side of the highway the conflict is not small.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I guess it depends on your sense of scale. Compared to the holocaust, that's just peanuts. For all the war in the world, and all the coverage of all the wars on news networks and the internet, there sure seems to be a lot less actual dying going on in wars in the last 30 years. The fact that every person who dies in Iraq seems to get his picture in the paper is a far cry from where we were in Vietnam. 1.177 Million military men died in vietnam (all sides considered), and millions of civilians (estimates v
    • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:31AM (#40003057)
      Seriously, are all the threats realistic, or does the UK government suffer from a paranoid syndrome? At least once a week /. exposes a new plan in the UK to a) add cameras somewhere b) spy/censor Internet c) control this or that and now d) defense against EMPs.
      The coming Olympics are maybe an excuse^w reason? Or maybe we should prohibit the 8 seasons of Jack Bauer / 24 to be sold in the UK?
      • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @05:24AM (#40003227) Homepage

        Seriously, are all the threats realistic

        Um, no. The amount of energy needed to generate a worthwhile EMP is in the nuclear bomb/solar flare range.

        If you're a terrorist with that much energy in a transportable package the last thing you'll be thinking of doing with it is taking out a couple of cellphone towers.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      It's funny how similar (and crazy) both US and UK are while rest of the world lives in peace.

      Yes its a shame we are not like those peaceful Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, the Sudan, etc.

    • by daem0n1x (748565)
      Speak for yourself. I live in permanent dread of unicorn farts, and I demand my government do something about this threat! Cut the education and health budget, we need the money!
    • by flyneye (84093)

      Yes, but I'd like to point out that any country with much more than electricity has a reason to fear an EMP bomba.
      Someone should point out to Hammond that the sky is falling too, then England could erect a giant umbrella in addition to putting up lead plate over every building with an electric outlet stuck in the wall.

    • by Kijori (897770)

      If you look at the proportion of GDP spent on the military, the UK is nothing exceptional; of the 99 countries in Wikipedia's list, the UK is 40th. In absolute terms it appears between Japan and France - two other currently peaceful first-world countries that presumably feature in your "rest of the world".

      History is littered with stories of the militarily strong taking from the militarily weak, of erstwhile allies going to war because they see the possibility to gain. There is nothing unreasonable or crazy

  • The defence secretaries Netflix account shows Ocean's 11 as recently watched.

    • And Small Soldiers. He's terrified that we'll also be attacked by toy soldiers with military grade microchips too.
    • by TheLink (130905)
      Has he bought a tinfoil hat recently? To protect his useless brain from EMP.

      Seriously who is going to detonate an EMP over UK? That'll piss off nearby countries like France and Ireland too. A country crazy enough to do it better be prepared for a nuclear response.

      And if "the terrorists" can get hold of a massive EMP device why wouldn't they get hold of a nuke instead and nuke UK? A mass EMP weapon has to be detonated in the atmosphere, which requires a missile or high-altitude balloon, either requires a lot
      • by azalin (67640)

        Seriously who is going to detonate an EMP over UK? That'll piss off nearby countries like France and Ireland too. A country crazy enough to do it better be prepared for a nuclear response.

        Beware the green clovers wrath: drunken brawling, green rivers and red haired tap-dancers. The reason Hulk is green is not the gamma rays but his Irish inheritance.
        Seriously once you pissed of England (owns nukes), France (owns nukes) and probably the rest of Nato (more nukes) enough for a nuclear payback, Ireland (no nukes) should be the least of your worries.

    • Or "Goldeneye", in which the bad guy targets the City of London with an EMP weapon in order to bring about financial meltdown.

  • by GauteL (29207) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:30AM (#40002845)

    ..an infinite amount of money to protect us.

    Seriously. If the ministry of defence thinks we need to protect from this they can evaluate it up against other threats and spend their existing money accordingly.

    • by alostpacket (1972110) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:36AM (#40002877) Homepage

      Exactly. This money should be spent preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:18AM (#40003015)

      Let me explain something to you.

      A few years ago a substantial part of the research division of the Ministry of Defence was privatised (!) as a mysterious firm called "Qinetiq" and now much of it belongs to US businesses (!!). This research arm then sells back to the MoD at a profit.

      The absurd arrangement means that a great part of the MoD's remit is now to provide corporate welfare to the US "defense" industry. If the MoD say they need something, what they actually mean is that one of their friends is selling something.

      If you thought that the US government was corrupt, they are nothing on the UK. Over the last fifteen years our government's only progress has been a year on year increase in the amount of money it channels to private businesses.

    • ministry of defence

      Don't confuse the minister and the ministry. The MoD can be a bit useless at times, but they're not generally publicly moonbat-crazy. They leave that to the elected officials.

  • by Erikderzweite (1146485) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:31AM (#40002857)

    Although I am not sure where will they place CCTV cameras this time?

  • Non nuclear (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dupple (1016592) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:32AM (#40002859)

    It's possible to generate an EMP without nuclear detonation using an 'explosively pumped flux compression generator'. It's range is limited compared that of an nuclear generated EMP.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_pulse#Non-nuclear_electromagnetic_pulse [wikipedia.org]

  • Would he really require having replacement parts for every functioning semiconductor device, or having to build a Faraday cage around every interconnected semiconductor device...or maybe just revert to the use of vacuum tubes and relays?
    • by azalin (67640)
      Even if you where truly paranoid, a safely stored replacement system for some key infrastructures would do. Which wouldn't be such a bad idea anyway.
  • by detritus. (46421) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:34AM (#40002869)

    We must attack the Sun because it hates our freedom, our way of life and wants to destroy us.

    • We must attack the Sun because it hates our freedom, our way of life and wants to destroy us.

      Well, the ex-editor of the Sun has just been charged with 'perverting the course of justice' so I suppose that the attack is well underway!

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18062485 [bbc.co.uk]

      (Yes I know it's a different 'Sun' but I couldn't resist!).

  • by golden age villain (1607173) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:38AM (#40002885)

    " UK In Danger of Having Third World Standards Infrastructures "

    There, fixed the title. A chance our taxpayers money is wisely spent to upgrade London in the wake of the Olympic Games.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:40AM (#40002889)

    Breaking news at 11! UK Defence secretary says we must spend more money on defence and other military things! Demands greater slice of government budget!

    Coming up shortly on this channel - Health minister argues more must be spent on hospitals, Rural Affairs spokesman demands urgent spending on rural schools, says education of rural kids being neglected.

    • by jimmydevice (699057) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:46AM (#40002905)
      This sounds like a warped expansion pack for simcity.
    • by funkatron (912521)
      Actually, a defence secretary arguing for defence is pretty fucking rare. Normally they like to start completely pointless wars which achieve nothing.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      In fairness, Phil Hammond is by no means a desktop warrior. He's managed to rein in the MOD budget, something I didn't think I'd ever see. And he certainly doesn't come across as someone who enjoys playing soldiers.
      • He's managed to rein in the MOD budget,

        Um yeah.

        For some reason, the MoD is required by successive governments to hurl money ar BAe systems, despite barely counting as a UK company these days, and other large, expensive purchases like the Eurofighter and F35 are all politically made.

        What he's managed to do is cut all the useful stuff whilee still burning huge amounts of money on the insanely expensive political contracts.

        • by u38cg (607297)
          Strategic purchases are almost inevitably wrong, but they still need to be made or when the next real shooting war starts we'll have no defence manufacturing capability at all. Depends on your definition of useful, of course. Much as I lament the loss of regiments, new infantry batallions can be spun up in months. New carrier? Don't plan to fight a war before the 2020s.
          • Strategic purchases are almost inevitably wrong, but they still need to be made or when the next real shooting war starts we'll have no defence manufacturing capability at all.

            Certainly, but that is the problem with these purchases. BAe is a global corporation which does relatively little in the UK any more. The Eurofighter is made all over Europe, which would make it very hard to start tolling off units in a more compact area, should the need arrive. The F35 is even worse in that regard.

            As for the carriers

    • by Dominic (3849)

      Actually, our Health Secretary (minister) Andrew Lansley is cutting funding and systematically destroying healthcare, so no, not all ministers will argue that their area is the most important.

  • Pedant's corner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sesostris III (730910) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @03:53AM (#40002921)
    Apologies for being pedantic, but it's 'Defence' in the UK, not 'Defense'. The article got it right.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:15AM (#40002997)

    Newt Gingrich and company have been scaremongering about EMP bombs [foreignpolicy.com] for years now.

    • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:53AM (#40003159)

      Proper surge protection, spark gaps, low pass filters, etc provide a high degree of protection. Narrow band antennas of a grounded design such as a yagi, will recieve power within it's passband.

      Unshielded electronics such as your clock radio are hard to protect. Shielded equipment with power filtering, metal cases, over voltage protection, etc are relatively safe. Your desk top computer has an antenna wire attached to the keyboard and mouse, so these are vunerable. A traditional RFI metal case tower PC with all external cables removed would make a nice spare that can be quickly deployed after an attack.

      A single point ground at the utility power and telcom entry into a building provides high levels of protection against the lower frequency components of an EMP as MOV, Spark Gap, and other protection is fast enough to ground it. A noise filter for the house power will block the higher frequencies so the over voltage devices can protect the load.

      http://www.ese.upenn.edu/detkin/instruments/misctutorials/Ground/grd.html [upenn.edu]

      Proper grounding, noise filtering, shielding, and overvoltage protection will provide a high degree of protection to EMP.

  • Electromagnetic Pulse devices mimic the result of ... a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, creating a storm of electromagnetic radiation, which can break mobile networks and satellite systems.

    Does carl's junior sell nuclear devices now? I swear, politicians must get a bonus every time they find a way to sneak that into a speech.

  • and who has the capacity to build and deliver an EMP? ........aaahhh yes our friends - maybe they are actually our enemies?
  • This is lame AND stupid.

    Do they really think this is going to be an issue? Al Qaeda with an EMP?

    I'm more concerned about the threat of robots that have been given minds of their own, heavy weaponry and a global satellite network. I bet some of you think I'm kidding, too.

    Well, with a little luck, the robots will see that their makers, not the rest of humanity, are the only real threat to humanity (and the robots, as well) and crush them in hydraulic presses (slowly, for dramatic effect). So, maybe this isn't

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Do they really think this is going to be an issue? Al Qaeda with an EMP?

      Don't you learn from history? These sophisticated terrorists have already shown how they can cause death and destruction with high-tech weapons like... er... half-a-dozen $5 box cutters...

      Of course, it is always much easier to defeat an evil genius with complex gadgets and elaborate plans for world domination than defend against an ordinary guy with a sack of fertiliser. Its awfully worrying when you raid the master criminal's lair expecting to find a NASA-like mission control, a monorail and a clutch of b

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