Iran, like North Korea, has demonstrated an ability to launch nuclear weapons into low earth orbit over the South Polar regions. Last year, they launched a monkey into space in such a trajectory, reportedly in a 4400 pound capsule that could easily carry a conventionally designed nuclear weapon into orbit. If they launched a much lighter “EMP” nuclear weapon possibly in the North Korean inventory, they could achieve substantially higher orbits. (Detonation of either weapon over the U.S. could lead to the death of several hundred million Americans within a year.) These facts, coupled with geographic realities, make defending against an Iranian FOBS more difficult than is the case for North Korea. And the Iranian Mullahs may be more inclined to attack “the Great Satan” than is North Korea’s Dear Leader. We can and should quickly end our vulnerability to both emerging if not existing threats.
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A combined diplomatic and technical response is proposed to counter effectively North Korea’s demonstrated FOBS capability, which poses an existential EMP threat to the American people. We should insist on inspecting their satellite payloads for launches over the South Polar regions, and if they refuse be prepared to shoot down their satellites before they overfly U.S. territory. We should deploy a layered set of sea- and land-based defenses to do so, beginning almost immediately—and for relatively little expense since existing mostly already funded defense capabilities would be employed.
North Korea’s recent satellite launches and previous nuclear tests, coupled with its recent claims of a coming test of a “new form” nuclear weapon, give us pause in contemplating a possible North Korean EMP attack on the United States coming from over the South Polar region. The question is, will we take effective initiatives in time to counter this threat?
To deal more effectively with today’s threats, we should return to President Ronald Reagan’s vision made explicit in his March 23, 1983 speech that launched the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The “powers that be” should revive technology programs aimed at developing space-based defenses, the most cost-effective way to defend against a full gamut of ballistic missile threats, including those that pose an existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat.
The Russian Bear on the prowl in Ukraine presents sobering global implications of a growing threat that could escalate even to place American equities at risk at home. We need both effective diplomatic and military responses—including an increased emphasis and funding for effective ballistic missile defenses for our friends and allies near the Bear and for Americans at home.
“I think that cutting the defense budget in significant ways right now is a serious mistake. You know, when we’ve cut the budget before—at the end of the Cold War, at the end of Vietnam and at other times, it’s been because we thought the world was going to be a safer place . . . at least we thought so temporarily at the time. No one can make that case right now. You look at the situation in Ukraine and our relationships with Russia. You look at the tensions between China and Japan and in the South China Sea. You look at Iran and North Korea. These guys are operating on the 20th century model of nation states, boundaries matter, strategic interests matter, zero sum game, I win, you lose. This is the way these countries look at the world. It’s different than the way the West Europeans and we look at it, and frankly the pace at which both the Europeans and the United States [are] cutting their defenses, regardless of what the facts on the ground in terms of the number of ships and number of planes, it certainly sends a signal that we are not interested in protecting our global interests.” . . . Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, March 9, 2015
Everyone should be aware of the instabilities created by Russia’s interference in Ukraine—and it could rapidly go quite badly. Some have recalled the implausible events and misjudgments that led to World War I and wondered about a recurrence. Furthermore, if Iran or anyone else launches a nuclear weapon to high altitude over the U.S. and detonates it to create an electromagnetic pulse, also in the “blink of an eye” that could lead to the death of several hundred million Americans.
We understand the electric power grid vulnerabilities and how to fix them—if the powers that be would take the needed initiatives. Yet they dither while the growing nuclear proliferation threat presents a serious concern that we may experience a devastating attack before necessary countermeasures are enacted. Our failing diplomacy and lethargic defense programs are sapping our strength, leaving us with friends who don’t trust us and enemies who don’t fear us. Time is running out for us to rectify this situation. And our enemies know it.
As the mainstream media’s awareness of threats to the electric power grid grows and recent weather reminds us of even worse events that will happen, the powers that be need to develop ways to shield against them. These threats extend from physical attacks, to cyber attacks, to natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse events that could take down the grid for an indefinite period of time, during which several hundred million Americans could perish.
Recent press accounts illustrate the mainstream media’s growing awareness of threats to the electric power grid and the need to counter them. These threats extend from physical attacks, to cyber attacks, to natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse events that could take down the grid for an indefinite period of time, during which several hundred million Americans could perish. We must connect the dots and deploy needed countermeasures!
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The Day The Lights Went Out – Video Courtesy of New York Times
Amb. Cooper speaks on EMP at SC Tea Party Patriots Convention
Expert Panel on EMP Threat: New EMP Coalition!
Gingrich endorses SHIELD Act, praises Maine EMP legislation
Jim Woolsey: Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is existential threat to America
President Reagan announces SDI on March 23, 1983
President Reagan on 10 Year Anniversary of High Frontier
Key Policy Briefs