Natanz Nuclear Facility in Iran

Three days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it could take months for new UN sanctions against Iran. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports that, in addition to China, the Obama administration is increasingly worried about gaining the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council, including Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon. While Iran’s ballistic missile program continues to advance, a long-range nuclear missile might not be the biggest threat Iran presents to the United States.

Iran could place a short-range ballistic missile on one of the thousands of commercial freighters sailing in the Pacific and detonate a warhead high above U.S. territory that could take down 75 percent of our nation’s electrical grid. As Heritage fellow Baker Spring explains such a Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack would “cause a cascade of failures throughout the broader infrastructure, including banking systems, energy systems, transportation systems, food production and delivery systems, water systems, emergency services, and–perhaps most damaging–cyberspace. Effectively, the U.S. would be thrown back to the pre-industrial age following a widespread EMP attack.”

Congress has already begun to address this threat. They created the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, who has since issued reports in 2004 and 2008. The Commission concluded: “EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences.”

But now the Obama administration has chosen to ignore the Commission’s findings. Congress can not allow this to continue. Baker recommends:

  • Require the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to Produce a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) Describing Which Countries Are Capable of Launching an EMP Strike.
  • Press the Obama Administration to Prepare to Protect the Nation’s Cyber Infrastructure Against the Effects of EMP.
  • Require the Navy to Develop a Test Program for Sea-Based Interceptors with the Capability to Intercept and Destroy Ballistic Missiles Carrying EMP Weapons Prior to Detonation.

You can read Spring’s full report, here.