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What is an EMP threat?

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Quick Answer

An EMP threat is a scenario in which a launched nuclear missile detonates at a high altitude, releasing a radiation surge that creates an electromagnetic pulse. This pulse carries a strong electric current, causing damage to and disruption of electronic equipment and resulting in blackouts and failures of major infrastructures.

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What is an EMP threat?
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Full Answer

The discovery of an EMP threat began in the 1960s, when U.S. national security officials began conducting high-altitude nuclear tests to protect against the threat of a Soviet attack. In a test known as Starfish Prime, conducted in July 1962, the detonation of a 1.4 megaton nuclear bomb at a height of 248 miles over the Pacific Ocean caused radio transmission in California and Australia to be disrupted for hours. This blast also damaged and disabled six orbital satellites.

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