The Commons Defence Committee warned that an electro-magnetic pulse resulting from a device set off up to 500 miles in space would destroy telecommunications and power supplies.

It’s a threat that is being taken increasingly seriously by defence experts who claim that if rogue states were to make such an attack, the country could be brought to its knees, robbed of the ability to communicate and with potentially no electricity supplies. The committee recommends “as a matter of urgency” the process of toughening up infrastructures in anticipation.

But is could there be something of a conspiracy theory around this latest scare? Some believe this warning could be the latest in a wave of US propaganda designed to instil fear into the masses and make building a case for war with Iran or North Korea more palatable. The New York Times recently ran an article highlighting Republican party candidate Newt Gingrich’s ‘doomsday vision’.

The idea that an EMP attack could ‘fry electrical circuits from coast to coast, knocking out computers, electrical power and cellphones,’ has been circulating for decades now – and was even the subject of the 1997 James Bond film Goldeneye.

“We take these threats seriously, and proportionately, and are considering the Defence Committee report carefully. Many of the points it raises are already coordinated across government and will be covered by the National Space Security Policy expected later this year,” said a UK government spokesman.

Chairman of the defence select committee James Arbuthnot told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “It would have a far more devastating impact to use a nuclear weapon in this way than to explode a bomb in or on a city. It would, over a much wider area, take out things like the National Grid on which we all rely for almost everything.”

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