It's hard to believe but there are still some who discount the threat posed by Iran to the West once the regime acquires and readies nuclear weapons. But why is Iran a threat? To answer that question we must ask some others:
- Would Iran like to see the West destroyed? Yes
- Is Iran willing to take action to bring this about? Yes
- Is Iran currently taking action to bring this about? Yes
- Would the end of this course of action legitimately threaten the West? Yes
- How seriously could Iran hurt us? A single nuclear weapon detonated above North America would emit an electromagnetic pulse capable of frying our electrical grid and nearly everything utilizing electronics. This could literally lead to the extermination of 90% of the population within a year.
- Can Iran be deterred? No
- Can the threat be defended against or mitigated? Not yet. The technology exists but it has not been implemented.
- What is being done to defend and mitigate? Too little
- How long before Iran's nuclear capability is operational? Estimates vary from a few months to a couple of years at the optimistic end of the spectrum.
- How long before defense and mitigation techniques are operational? A few years.
As you can see, there is already a frightening gap between when many believe Iran will possess nuclear weapons and when we will be able to defend against them or reduce their impact.
Iran has already promised to "wipe" the US and Israel off the face of the earth. Newt Gingrich makes a very good point on this, as well. If a person believes it is a good idea to blow himself up with a suicide vest in order to kill just a few of his enemies, why wouldn't he want a nuclear bomb and be willing to accept the consequences of retaliation after launching a devastating attack on his enemies? But the threat is even worse than that of a single - or even a few - cities being destroyed by nuclear attacks at ground level. Presently, Iran's nuclear weapons program is being developed in conjunction with missile tests that include delivery systems being detonated at apogee to simulate an EMP attack. A single EMP event over North America could be sufficient to knock out our entire electrical grid, which may take up to a decade to replace.
Within the first year after such an event due to starvation, dehydration, and disease, up to 90% of the US population would be dead. That's from a single EMP from a single, fairly low-yield bomb, and Iran's leadership has talked openly both within political circles and internal military white papers and other documents about the desire to make an EMP strategy their top priority.
Furthermore, there is no deterrent as there was with the Soviet Union because the official form of Islam propagated and adhered to within the regime believes that they will herald in the era of the 12th Imam (their messiah) once Armageddon begins; furthermore, this is also the same belief system that glorifies the suicide bomber as a martyr for Islam.
The Iranian regime is willing to accept heavy losses by any retaliation and they believe it is their God-given purpose to obliterate the United States, and soon they will have the capability to do so. Furthermore, the US would be so badly weakened - if it exists at all - that retaliation and certainly any sustained conflict with Iran and its axis partners would be impossible from a resource standpoint. The best we could do is drop a few nukes on Iran, which Iran is willing to accept. I would say that is quite a real threat.
We must begin to accept reality on its terms rather than how we wish it to be, and in so doing ensure that no attack from Iran, its axis partners China and Russia, other allies or terrorist groups will be capable of inflicting serious damage.
Martin is a master's student in national security studies and is the executive director of Samizdat International, a genuine human rights concern. He currently serves with the Newt Gingrich campaign as Texas Chair for Students with Newt (posts at Blogbat are personal opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the campaign). Martin undertook his internship with the London-based Henry Jackson Society in the summer of 2009 and misses the irradiated sushi at his favorite sushi haunt Itsu. He hates the Turabian style format.