This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
A commentary at the Washington Examiner is warning that a Chinese spy balloon being watched as it crosses the United States could be a "dry run" for an EMP attack.
An electromagnetic pulse attack would be triggered by a nuclear explosion at altitude. It would disrupt electronics in a massive region, and earlier warnings have said that it could take down America's grid, destroy basic functions like banking and deliveries, and ultimately kill millions.
The latest warning is contained in Paul Bedard's Washington Secrets column.
"High-altitude balloons, such as the one China has floated over mountain state military bases this week, are considered a key 'delivery platform' for secret nuclear strikes on America’s electric grid, according to intelligence officials," he reported.
"Spy balloons, used by Japan to drop bombs during World War II, are now far more sophisticated, can fly at up to 200,000 feet, evade detection, and can carry a small nuclear bomb that, if exploded in the atmosphere, would shut down the grid and wipe out electronics in a many-state-wide area."
WND has reported on the threat from EMP for years, as the nation has no effective barrier to such attacks. And even small rogue nations or terror groups that could capture a nuke could launch such an attack.
A congressional EMP commission and the military have delivered such warnings over the years, too.
Bedard said a 2015 report for the American Leadership & Policy Foundation included advice from Air Force Maj. David Stuckenberg, a leading EMP expert, about the situation, and the threat to national security from EMPs.
"Using a balloon as a WMD/WME platform could provide adversaries with a pallet of altitudes and payload options with which to maximize offensive effects against the U.S.," he said at the time. "A high-altitude balloon could be designed, created, and launched in a matter of months. There is nothing to prevent several hundred pounds of weapons material from being delivered to altitude."
Today, in light of the Chinese balloon's presence, Bedard reported, he said, "China’s recent balloon flyover of the United States is a provocative and aggressive act. It was most likely a type of dry run meant to send a strategic message to the USA. We must not take this for granted."
He noted during World War II Japan had an effort that targeted North America with balloon bombs.
The report said, "Stuckenberg cited the research of the late Peter Pry, who headed a congressional commission on EMP and reported on the potential of a balloon-launched attack."
Pry found, "Imagine the consequences of a balloon EMP attack that damages and destroys electronic systems at the speed of light within an EMP field with a radius of hundreds of kilometers. The Eastern Grid generates 75% of U.S. electricity and supports most of the population. Virtually any nuke detonated anywhere over the Eastern Grid will collapse the entire Eastern Grid, not just the area within the EMP field, because of cascading failures that will ripple outward."
China has claimed its balloon is a weather balloon and is not a threat, and the Pentagon has so far rebuffed demands to shoot it down.
WND reported only last year there was new evidence the rogue Islamic regime in Iran was preparing for such an attack by hardening its "critical infrastructure" in preparation for a military response from the United States.
In an electromagnetic-pulse or EMP, attack, a small nuclear weapon delivered on a satellite is exploded at high altitudes, resulting in a burst of electromagnetic energy that could cause a nationwide blackout of the electric power grid. The shutdown of critical infrastructure reliant on the grid, which could last as long as a year, would affect communications, transportation, food and water supply, and sanitation.
While nuclear experts believe Iran does not have the capacity to strike the U.S. with a traditional nuclear-tipped missile, its intent to carry out an EMP attack "may be reflected in their efforts to protect at least some of their critical infrastructures," according to a report by Pry, the executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
Pry's report then, titled "IRAN: EMP THREAT The Islamic Republic of Iran's Military Doctrine, Plans, and Capabilities for Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack," noted an official Iranian military textbook endorses EMP attacks against the U.S.
A year ago, Pry co-authored a column in The Hill warning that the Ukraine war could devolve into an "EMP apocalypse" for America.
Pry and co-author D. Brian Hay, president of the Canadian security think tank Mackenzie Institute, said a missile-delivered EMP "of sufficient size, exploded high above St. Louis, for example, could fry the electricity systems of the United States and those of the main populated parts of Canada and northern Mexico."
"The resulting social catastrophe of such a doomsday scenario would forcibly preoccupy national, state, and local authorities with their internal problems," they wrote.
"Imagine most of the United States with no electricity, no ATMs, few working vehicles, few functioning hospitals, no delivery of prescription medicines, or food or fresh water or sewage treatment," they wrote "Most of the U.S. population could be reduced to a lifestyle like that of the 1800s. EMP Commission estimates project a death toll of 90 percent of the population within one year, were something of this nature to happen. Remaining authorities would be overwhelmed by civil unrest decimating the dwindling population as they fought for their survival."
The threat could come, they warned, from many sources, including North Korea and China as well as Russia and Iran.