Hurricane Sandy ravaged large parts of New York City and New Jersey, flooding streets and homes, washing away piers, cutting down trees and power lines, forcing people to flee their homes, scrounge for food, line up for gas and search for power to charge their cell phones.
While metro New York residents are looking forward to a return to normalcy, some national security analysts are warning that what Americans in the Northeast experienced temporarily could be the merest foretaste of what all Americans can expect if action is not taken to prevent a full-blown assault on vital U.S. infrastructures.
Indeed, while surveys show most Americans thought this week’s U.S. presidential election was all about the economy, these voices are saying the threat from countries like Iran or North Korea may restore foreign and defense policy to voters’ top concerns.
At issue is the danger of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, a plausible nuclear threat that has gotten no attention in the recent campaign.
Whereas military planners used to focus on nuclear weapons deployed against a major U.S. population center, which would take a fair amount of sophistication to target precisely, the new worry concerns a nuclear explosion detonated at high altitude.
A rogue band of terrorists or nuclear rogue state like Iran may be in a position to launch a single nuclear payload into the atmosphere above the United States, and thereby incapacitate every electric system in the U.S. Hospitals would be without power, banks could not transfer funds electronically, people could not use credit cards or cell phones.
The Obama Administration is currently developing an executive order on the issue of cybersecurity.