We can’t take comfort in the thought that an EMP is something beyond the reach of a rogue nation or terrorist group. “Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse,” the 2004 Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack reported. “A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.”
The threat of an EMP attack makes it all the more imperative that we pursue an immediate and comprehensive missile defense, as I urged in one of my most recent columns. Missile defense was conceived as a way to counter a conventional nuclear attack. But there’s no reason it can’t serve a dual purpose. The same missiles that can knock down a rocket delivering a low-altitude nuclear payload can do the same to a high-altitude one equipped with an EMP.
But we need to ensure the system we deploy can do the job. That’s what I mean by “comprehensive.” We need to make it a layered system -- one on land, sea and air, and with the ability to take out missiles in almost any stage of flight. What the Obama administration is currently proposing, in terms of funding and design, simply won’t do the job.
That’s unacceptable. The EMP threat isn’t going away -- at least, not until we show that we’re serious about disarming it. The sooner, the better.