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North Korea Nuclear EMP Attack: An Existential Threat

We here at the American Civil Defense Association felt this was important to share;

Statement for the Record
Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Chief of Staff
Commission to assess the threat to the United States from
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Homeland Security
Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency Hearing
October 17, 2017

North Korea Nuclear EMP Attack:
An Existential Threat

During the Cold War, major efforts were undertaken by the Department of Defense to assure that the U.S. national command authority and U.S. strategic forces could survive and operate after an EMP attack. However, no major efforts were then thought necessary to protect critical national infrastructures, relying on nuclear deterrence to protect them. With the development of small nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles by new, radical U.S. adversaries, beginning with North Korea, the threat of a nuclear EMP attack against the U.S. becomes one of the few ways that such a country could inflict devastating damage to the United States. It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue, and give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP.        (Read entire address here.)


One Man’s Preparedness Journey

Watch this story about Peter Larson (a good friend to TACDA board members) on National Geographic’s TV show “Doomday Preppers”.

Peter Larson is a recognized expert in the field of Prepping. His unique brand of planning, training and preparing helps Peter stand out as a voice of reason amongst conspiracy theorists, renegades, anarchists and all around crazies.

Kennedy on Civil Defense


The following is a letter from President John F. Kennedy to the members of Congress and read by Stewart Pittman

October 6, 1961


I was gratified to learn of the productive meeting of the Committee on Civil Defense of the Governors’ Conference on September 17 in the Pentagon. The basis was well laid for continuing and close cooperation between your committee and all of us concerned with the federal civil defense program.

There is need for a nationwide understanding of what each level of government, each private organization and each citizen can do to bring about and maintain the best attainable protection for the civilian population against the major effects of a thermonuclear attack. Information is in preparation which I will use to inform the American people on what individuals should know and can do for their own protection. In the meantime, your committee may wish to inform the Governors of the goal towards which the Federal Government, the state governments, industry and other institutions in the United States should work.

In simple terms, this goal is to reach for fallout protection for every American as rapidly as possible. Radioactive fallout, extending down-wind for as much as several hundred miles, could account for the major part of the casualties which might result from a thermonuclear attack on an unprotected population. Protection against this threat is within reach of an informed America willing to face the facts and act.

The Federal Government is moving forward to bring into operation fallout shelter space for large groups of people under very austere conditions. Many homeowners, communities and business firms can and will provide more adequate and better located shelter space for their own needs. The Federal Government is backing this effort with a massive dissemination of technical information. In addition, we will inform those who cannot afford costly structures on low-cost methods of improvising shielding against fallout radiation. The people of this country will be urged, by me, by the Governors and by other leaders to do what is within their means.

The state governments have a vital role to play in accelerating attainment of the goal of full fallout protection. Shelter can be provided in new construction of state and local public buildings. State and municipal laws and ordinances can be adapted to encourage private initiative in this effort. State and local leadership in organizing people to prepare, and communities to operate, during and immediately after an attack is a cornerstone of any successful civil defense effort.

I look forward to the closest cooperation between all levels of government in the United States to move rapidly towards this goal. Your committee is making a major contribution in stimulating participation by the state governments in the nationwide civil defense effort.



What to Do With Good News?


By Edward Teller, Ph.D.

(published in the Journal of Civil Defense, Spring 1993)

I had just finished a delightful lunch with my grandson. At the end of it, he made a statement as horrible as it was surprising: “A few years ago,” he said, “I thought that the human race would not survive the 21st century. I have become more optimistic. There’s now a 50% chance.”

Is that what our children think? And their children? Is it this far that our fear of innovation of science, of the future, has escalated? To imagine the worst is all right as long as you couple your thoughts with the determination and the conviction that the worst can be averted.

We see now the beginnings of replacing confrontation between East and West by cooperation for mutual benefit. But it is true that the fear of a cataclysm of the big conflict is being, in fact, replaced by worry of conflict on a smaller scale. Indeed, proliferation of nuclear weapons continues as a possibility and proliferation of missiles is developing as a fact.

In view of the fear of a cataclysm, civil defense appeared as a necessity. One of my reasons for advocating it was my experience that a good beginning often has a one hundredfold payoff. And such a big payoff might even have sufficed.

Now, considering the properly reduced fears of my grandson, I will repeat my response to him. “I am firmly convinced that we will survive for better or for worse. I even predict that we shall survive for the better. To do this, we must continue to consider the worst. By being prepared for an attack from any part of the world, we may finally arrive at the state where violence between nations will have become as rare and as absurd as violence between individuals.

“But to do this, it will be of growing benefit to establish defenses against the possibilities of violence. The idea of a success of violence is the main reason why violence is still planned, particularly by those people to whom power is an ultimate goal rather than a heavy obligation.

“To me, the question is no longer whether civil defense will succeed. The only remaining question is whether the success of civil defense will have to be preceded by some bitter experiences or whether, for once, reason will suffice to produce protection.”

A safe-room tip!


Hi.  James here.  I have a question for you:

I am in the beginning process of building a barn with a small 16 x 12 safe room in the basement.  The walls will be poured concrete, 12” thick and I faced with 9” of stone.  The ceiling is an 8” slab.  I was opening that you could help me with the door and NBC system, as well as suggest what steps need to be taken to ensure I have properly planned for both the installations.  Can you help me with this situation?


Hi James,

Sounds like a neat project!   If you site your safe room in the corner away from the outside wall and next to solid earth (all the way to the top) the walls will likely be OK.  My concern is the thickness of the ceiling.  In Switzerland, bomb shelters are Federal building code…..everybody must have them.  There are one million surplus shelter spaces there, and they are still building 500 shelters each month.   Swiss shelter code is very explicit and well engineered for fallout protection and blast to three atmospheres (45 psi overpressure).  Their ceilings are anywhere from 30 inches to a meter thick, heavily reinforced with lots of rebar.  Depends on what other structure will be built on top, or how much additional earth will be added on top.  Most communal shelters feature a meter of concrete and a meter of earth.  I have lots of video we shot in Switzerland that show this. We also have the Swiss building code on a PDF that you can purchase from TACDA.

Vertical, walk in type doors let in a great deal of radiation.  The Swiss use armored doors, which feature an eight -inch thick concrete door leaf.  This door must be cast into the wall- retrofits are possible, but difficult.

Your emergency escape tunnel hatch should be made of solid steel and sit horizontally on the ground.  DO NOT compromise your ceiling thickness with a hatch… a tunnel out twelve feet or so, and then go vertical for the hatch.

The Swiss concrete shelters with 36 inches of concrete in the ceiling (though good for fallout and blast) WILL NOT defeat initial radiation, which is present within 7500 feet of a nuclear detonation).  At 3 atmospheres (45 psi), initial radiation could be a problem.  But those Swiss shelters that have a meter of concrete over them, plus a meter of earth, will fare well.

An eight-inch concrete ceiling will provide a protection factor (PF) of only around ten.  This will reduce your exposure to outside fallout type (gamma) radiation by only a factor of 11.  My personal minimum is PF-250, which will require a 24 inch ceiling and/or wall between you and the radiation source. If the earth-side wall is completely below grade, then that wall only has to be ten inches thick.   You can play around with the formula by using 2.7 inches of concrete for a halving thickness.  Each 2.7 inches doubles the protection factor.  Ten halving thicknesses provide a PF of 1,000.  That’s 27 inches.  PF1000 makes for a nice shelter that will provide a margin of safety if you get a rainout….that is, all the fallout that was jettisoned into the air by a local ground burst is scavenged from the atmosphere and returned to the ground instead of drifting hundreds of miles downwind. This can raise your exposure level outside the shelter from 1000 rads/hour to as high as 10,000 rads/hour.  A PF250 shelter will probably not be enough in this scenario.

Best regards,

Paul Seyfried

President of Utah Shelter Systems –