China Can 'Take Out the Entire U.S.' This Way, Lawmaker Warns

Texas state Senator Bob Hall on Sunday said that "five or six" balloons like the one spotted flying over American airspace last month could pose a major threat to the United States.

Hall is a Republican lawmaker first elected to the Texas state Senate in 2014. He also previously served in the U.S. Air Force, reaching the rank of captain and working in the Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMC).

Hall made an appearance on Fox News on Sunday and spoke about the potential threats posed to the U.S. by balloons like the Chinese one that was shot down three weeks ago over the Atlantic Ocean. As the state senator explained, such balloons have a history in nuclear testing and could still be significant threats. While a few of them could "take out" the entire country, he also said that just one could still have a disastrous effect on the country's infrastructure.

"It's a real threat," Hall said. "The first high-altitude nuclear test was done using a weather balloon to determine its efficacy. We know it's been in the arsenal of our enemies for quite a while. While a balloon wouldn't be quite as effective as a rocket that carried it higher, probably five or six would be enough to take out the entire United States. But just one would be so catastrophic that there is a possibility it could bring down the rest of the power grid by itself by just the nature of the grid depending on each other."

chinese balloons nuclear emp threats
A fighter pilot is seen observing the Chinese spy balloon. Texas state Senator Bob Hall on Sunday said that "five or six" balloons like the one spotted flying over American airspace last month could pose a major threat to the United States. U.S. Department of Defense via Getty Images

The early high-altitude test that Hall referred to was Operation Hardtack I, a series of 35 U.S. nuclear tests held over the Pacific Ocean across several months in 1958. One of the tests, designated "Yucca," involved using a balloon to carry a nuclear payload tens of thousands of feet into the air, according to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The test was also used to measure the effects of electromagnetic waves released by nuclear explosions, which Hall further said could present significant dangers to U.S. infrastructure.

"The Russians and Chinese had a preemptive EMP [electromagnetic pulse] attack as a key to their war plans. Think about how effective that would be, rather than a ground nuclear attack," Hall continued. "It would render the United States useless to anybody. The EMP takes out the electrical system. It's the second most important thing to sustaining life in today's society. Only air is more important. One shot, the electricity is gone. In 11 months, 90 percent of the population would be dead and the Chinese would have the biggest farm in the world."

A recent Newsweek fact check determined that while these balloons could deploy EMP charges, they would be highly susceptible to military intervention, meaning missile launches would be the more likely method of deployment.

The Chinese spy balloon was first spotted over Montana in late January. Despite insistence from GOP critics that it be shot down immediately, President Joe Biden later explained that his military advisers urged that they wait until the craft was over water, which would minimize the risk to civilians from falling debris and give a better chance that parts could be retrieved for study. China, meanwhile, said that the surveillance device was actually a weather balloon that was simply blown off course.

The craft was deemed to be a surveillance device that did not pose an immediate physical threat to the country. Several other unidentified airborne objects have since been shot down over North America, with Biden explaining that they were likely to have been private entities with no connections to China.

Newsweek reached out to defense officials for comment.