While Russia and China condemn the U.S. Space Force for "militarizing space," Iran may be developing — or may already have in orbit — an offensive space super-weapon of awesome power.
On Weds. April 22, Iran successfully orbited its first military satellite, launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the world’s most powerful state-sponsored terrorist organization.
The satellite on its first orbit apparently passed over the United States.
Trajectory of the IRGC’s "Nour" ("Light") satellite overflies the United States from south to north, from the U.S. blind and defenseless side where there are no Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radars and no National Missile Defense interceptors.
Satellite altitude is 425 kilometers (264 miles). If nuclear-armed for electromagnetic pulse attack, Nour could project an EMP field covering most of North America, potentially blacking-out power grids and other critical infrastructures that support electronic civilization and the lives of 330 million Americans.
If Nour is an experimental or actual space EMP weapon, every nation on Earth is threatened several times daily. Nour’s trajectory and current location can be seen here.
While most analysts are fixated on when in the future Iran will develop highly reliable intercontinental missiles, guidance systems, and reentry vehicles capable of striking a U.S. city, the threat here and now from EMP is largely ignored.
EMP attack does not require an accurate guidance system because the area of effect, having a radius of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, is so large. No reentry vehicle is needed because the warhead is detonated at high-altitude, above the atmosphere. Missile reliability matters little because only one missile has to work to make an EMP attack against an entire nation by warhead or satellite.
Iran is strategic partners with North Korea, which has nuclear weapons, ICBMs, and has orbited satellites. They share military and missile technology. North Korean scientists work in Iran’s space program.
The EMP Commission "Chairman’s Report" warns two North Korean satellites orbit over the U.S. that may be nuclear-armed for surprise EMP attack:
"We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to use national technical means to ascertain if there is a nuclear weapon aboard North Korea’s KMS-3 or KMS-4 satellites that orbit over the United States. If either or both of these satellites are nuclear-armed, they should be intercepted and destroyed over a broad ocean area where an EMP resulting from salvage-fusing will do the least damage to humanity.” (For the EMP Commission "Chairman’s Report" see "The Power And The Light")
Moreover, the EMP Commission "Chairman’s Report" calls upon the President to protect the nation from a surprise EMP attack delivered by satellite:
"We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to develop a space-surveillance program to detect if any satellites orbited over the United States are nuclear-armed, and develop space-interception capabilities to defend against nuclear-armed satellites that might make an EMP attack."
But the intelligence community and official Washington claim Iran has no nuclear weapons. They also claimed North Korea was a decade away from ICBMs and H-bombs, until proved wrong on both counts in 2017.
According to Ambassador R. James Woolsey (former Director of Central Intelligence), Dr. William Graham (former EMP Commission chairman and White House science Advisor to President Reagan), Ambassador Henry Cooper (former director of the Strategic Defense Initiative), and Fritz Ermarth (former National Security adviser to President Reagan and chairman of the National Intelligence Council):
"We assess, from U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency reports and other sources, that Iran probably already has nuclear weapons. Over 13 years ago, prior to 2003, Iran was manufacturing nuclear-weapon components, like bridge-wire detonators and neutron initiators, performing non-fissile explosive experiments of an implosion nuclear device, and working on the design of a nuclear warhead for the Shahab-III missile.” (National Review "Underestimating Nuclear Missile Threats from North Korea and Iran," Feb. 12, 2016).
Significantly, an Iranian military textbook published ten years ago, ironically named "Passive Defense," describes nuclear EMP attack on the U.S. as potentially decisive in more than 20 passages. ("Passive Defense," Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Martyr Lt. General Sayed Shiraz Center for Education and Research, 2010.)
Ironically, while electric power lobbyists resist EMP protection of the U.S. grid, five years ago Iranian press reported Tehran is violating international sanctions and going full bore to protect itself from nuclear EMP attack. The article "Iran Builds EMP Filter For First Time," Mehr News Agency June 13, 2015, depicts a satellite making an EMP attack.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claims their satellite is for military communications, global positioning to support precision strikes, reconnaissance against "long-range threats," space-based" missile defense, and can instantaneously "destroy targets in space"—everything but EMP attack (though the last two could be EMP).
Did our all too fallible intelligence community tell President Trump the Nour is for Iranian TV shows?
Maybe we should worry a little when the world’s deadliest terror organization orbits a satellite over the "Great Satan" the day before Ramadan, a favored time for terror attacks, four months after assassination of IRGC General Suliemani, whose death the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is sworn to avenge.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of "Blackout Wars," and also of "The Power and the Light," available on Amazon.com.