LONDON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Britain's electrical system, financial networks and transport infrastructure could be paralyzed by a solar flare or a nuclear attack, a U.K. official says.
U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox is expected to deliver that warning next week at a summit of scientists and security advisers who believe the infrastructure that underpins modern life in Western economies is potentially vulnerable to electromagnetic disruption, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.
Such disruptions can be caused by man-made nuclear blasts or natural events on the surface of the sun.
Fox will tell the conference he believes there is a growing threat, and he wants to address the "vulnerabilities" in Britain's high-tech infrastructure, the newspaper said.
"As the nature of our technology becomes more complex, so the threat becomes more widespread," he will say.
The electrical grid, computers, telephones, transportation, water supply and food production are all vulnerable to a major solar flare or an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear detonation, another expert says.
"Our electrical infrastructures are so ubiquitous that an EMP or geomagnetic storm could shatter nations all over the Earth, and we cannot wait for disaster to spur us to action," Avi Schnurr, a former U.S. government adviser who works for the Israel Missile Defense Association, said.
The Electric Infrastructure Security Council and the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank, are jointly hosting the summit meeting.