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.
America sleeps uneasy because of its looming debt crisis that the powers that be seem to be ignoring. Actually, there is a more important threat—literally an existential threat—that the powers that be are also ignoring, in spite of numerous signs of its clear and present danger. Unless Americans wake up and demand that their elected leaders provide for the common defense, a manmade or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event could lead to the death of several hundred million American. Stay Tuned!
Last Monday, President Bill Clinton’s Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey; Dr. Peter Pry, who leads the Task Force on National and Homeland Security; and I joined in a discussion of the existential threat of a natural or nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The event, sponsored by the newly established EMP Coalition—of which Mr. Woolsey is the Honorary Co-Chair along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—is summarized here, by clicking below. A YouTube video of the 2-hour conference is included.
The recently formed EMP Coalition presentations at the National Press Club provided an overview of the existential electromagnetic pulse threat posed by natural and man-made causes and what must be done to counter both threats—with an emphasis on the importance of the Shield Act now being considered in the House for the third congress. Hopefully, it will pass during this third try, as advocated by the bipartisan EMP Caucus and as supported by seven out of ten Americans, according to a recent poll.
The recent discovery of a North Korean vessel carrying military technology, including rockets and various military components, from Cuba through the Panama Canal illustrates the threats from the South. Whatever the Intelligence Community eventually concludes about the purposes of this trading between Cuba and North Korea, it illustrates the “cacophony of proliferation” that poses a serious threat to the United States from the south—a serious “southern exposure.”
Assuming that key provisions of the Senate Armed Services Committee recommended National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2014 becomes law, there will be an opportunity for a Report to Congress to address serious gaps in our defenses against nuclear armed ballistic missiles that could attack us from vessels off our coasts -especially from the Gulf of Mexico-and from nuclear armed satellites – especially those that come toward the U.S. from over the South Pole. Hopefully, a thorough examination and appropriate actions will be in time to counter a potential existential threat.
Space based interceptors are potentially the most cost-effective way to defend against ballistic missiles of all ranges more than a few hundred miles—and over twenty years ago the technology was sufficiently mature to build such a system within five years of a decision to do so. But the pathway to such cost-effective defenses is blocked by ideological concerns that masquerade behind phony arguments, such as about costs—and contrary to findings 20 years ago that have been forgotten, after the key programs were canceled in 1993. How can we go back to the future?
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The Day The Lights Went Out – Video Courtesy of New York Times
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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