Recent reports indicate Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2015, if not earlier. What has been largely ignored is Iran’s ability to acquire an equally destructive device, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon. Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and I recently penned an article describing how Iran can achieve its destructive ends — “a world without America.”
Having already conducted tests from sea-based platforms, detonating warheads at the highest point of the missile trajectory, Iran may exploring a workable research program to deliver an EMP attack against the United States.
A modest warhead detonated at the right spot over the East Coast could take down 75% of the electrical grid, resulting in massive casualties through power outages, fuel and energy shortages and the shut-down of emergency and government services.
Not only would an EMP attack be cost-effective, but it would also be relatively easy to carry out. A ballistic missile (which Iran already has) fitted with an EMP device could be launched from an inconspicuous freighter off the shores of a major U.S. city.
A comprehensive missile defense system that can shoot down a missile shortly after launch is needed. In addition, revitalizing America’s nuclear deterrent is a critical means of deterring would-be aggressors and state sponsors of terror. While a damage limitation strategy is unequivocally preferable to a strategy of massive retaliation, showing the enemy we have to resolve and capability to respond to such an attack continues to be the best message to send to such aggressors.