The bluff scenario would include China’s announcement of a resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing and warn of tests during a specified period and then attacking Taiwan’s infrastructure with conventional forces.
“The minimization of military casualties on CVBG assets is calculated to lessen the likelihood of a U.S. nuclear response to a Taiwan strike employing nuclear EMP,” the report said. “The minimization of casualties on Taiwan is calculated to lessen the animosity among Taiwan’s population over forced reunification.”
The United States is bound by a 1979 law to prevent the forcible reunification of the island with the mainland, and China has said it is prepared to use force to claim the island.
Peter Pry, a former congressional aide who helped direct a commission on EMP several years ago, said the commission found that China plans for nuclear EMP strikes against the United States, as well as Taiwan and carrier forces, are part of its military doctrine and exercises.
“There is also evidence that China is developing, or has already developed, super-EMP nuclear weapons that generate extraordinarily powerful EMP fields, based partly on design information stolen from the United States,” Mr. Pry, president of the group EMPact America, said in an email.
The same state-run institute, the China Academy of Engineering Physics, that makes China’s nuclear warheads is also a center of microwave weapons research, he said.
Microwave weapons would be used to shut down enemy radar, communications, computers and other electronics in an opening salvo. The weapons also could jam electronics of attacking aircraft and anti-radiation missiles, and as an anti-satellite weapon, degrade sensitive satellite electronic systems, he said.
Richard Fisher, a China military analyst, said EMP warheads are likely to be an option for China’s new DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile for the purpose of attacking large U.S. Navy ships without inflicting immediate massive casualties.
“Less is known about the longer-term effects on personnel of this kind of radiation attack,” said Mr. Fisher, who is with the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “The more powerful nuclear-propelled neutron bomb was designed specifically for killing personnel without a massive blast.”