By Clifford May and Jay Carafano
The Washington Times
Until recently, it was possible to believe that whatever Mr. Ahmadinejad’s intentions, Iran was a long way from acquiring the capabilities it needs to achieve its goals. But a blue-ribbon commission has reported to Congress on what appears to be an Iranian drive to obtain the means to carry out an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) attack.
An EMP attack is produced by launching a ballistic missile with a nuclear weapon attached — and detonating it high above the Earth. This produces a massive pulse of ionized particles that could damage or even wipe out many electrical and information systems. Such an attack would disrupt telecommunications, banking and finance, fuel and energy, food and water supplies, emergency and government services and much more, threatening millions of lives.
We’ve seen a blacked-out South Texas in the wake of Hurricane Ike. We’ve seen New Orleans after Katrina. Now imagine that scenario over most of the continental United States. There would be a “world without America” – at least as we know it.
No one disputes that Iran is developing a robust long-range missile force. Few question that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s regime is working on nuclear weapons development. Less well-known is that Iran has conducted missile tests from sea-based platforms, detonating warheads at the high-point of the missile trajectory, rather at the aim point over the target. These facts have now been documented in official government reports.
Connect the dots, and you find the picture of a workable research program for developing a covert means to deliver an EMP attack against the United States.
A short-range ballistic missile could be carried on one of the thousands of commercial freighters sailing under “flags of convenience” that sail around U.S. waters every day. Without ever piquing the interest of the Navy, the Coast Guard, or the Customs and Border Protection, that ship could sail within range and deliver its payload over American territory. Even a modest warhead placed at the right spot over the East Coast could take down 75 percent of the electrical grid.
The genius of such a covert attack is that it doesn’t come with an obvious “return address.” The ship might be registered in Liberia. The crew might be Lebanese. The ship might disappear into the night – or be scuttled quietly.