Tags: iran | nuclear | weapon

Frank Gaffney: Iran at Brink of Nuke Weapon

Thursday, 02 Oct 2008 02:21 PM

By David A. Patten

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Iran is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon that could cripple the United States “in a blink of an eye,” says Frank Gaffney, a leading expert on U.S. national security.

Gaffney, an assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan, is founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security, a nonprofit organization that promotes global peace through American strength.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Gaffney warned that Iran’s nuclear program has progressed much further than most officials believe. The Islamic republic could attain a nuclear weapon “any day,” he said.

A single nuclear weapon exploded at the proper altitude would create a wave of energy sufficient to wipe out the entire U.S. electrical grid, causing “catastrophic disaster,” Gaffney said.

In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency that monitors global nuclear activities provided intelligence to diplomats indicating that Iran is trying to refit a long-distance missile so that it can carry a nuclear warhead.

“The missing piece as far as we know is the nuclear weapon, and they’re busily working to acquire that,” Gaffney told Newsmax. “And I am afraid they could at any day have the ability not only to obtain that nuclear weapon, but to mate it with a ballistic missile, and God forbid, use it.”

Experts agree that a nuclear detonation at a high altitude would generate an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, that would destroy most electrical systems. Gaffney predicts it would plunge the entire country into conditions similar to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The resulting social breakdown could ultimately lead to millions of American deaths from various causes, he said.

“Such an attack could really cripple our 21st-century society, and I would suggest sort of push us back into preindustrial society in the blink of an eye,” Gaffney said. “It would translate over time — not immediately but over time — into the deaths of perhaps as many as nine out of 10 Americans, because our society simply can’t be sustained without electricity and all of the infrastructure that supports our urban settings.”

Gaffney’s alarm over America’s vulnerability to an EMP detonation echoes a report that a blue-ribbon congressional committee issued this year.

“If even a crude nuclear weapon were detonated anywhere between 40 kilometers to 400 kilometers above the earth, in a split-second it would generate an electro-magnetic pulse that would cripple military and civilian communications, power, transportation, water, food, and other infrastructure,” the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack warned Congress in April.

In late July, Newsmax contributing editor Kenneth R. Timmerman reported that Iran’s latest Scud missile tests involved launches from a platform in the Caspian Sea. Intelligence analysts questioned what possible motive Iran could have for practicing sea-based ballistic missile launches.

[Editor's Note: Read “U.S. Intel: Iran Plans Nuclear Strike on U.S.” — Go Here Now].

Iran also detonated several Shahab-3 missiles near apogee (the maximum height the missile could attain), rather than over a specific land-based target.

William Graham, chairman of the EMP Commission, connected the dots for Congress in his testimony: “The only plausible explanation we can find is that the Iranians are figuring out how to launch a missile from a ship and get it up to altitude and then detonate it. And that’s exactly what you would do if you had a nuclear weapon on a Scud or a Shahab-3 or other missile, and you wanted to explode it over the United States.”

Iran would need a nuclear weapon for such an attack to generate an EMP. But Gaffney warned that Iran’s nuclear program is “moving inexorably forward” and is much closer to developing a nuclear warhead than is generally recognized.

The specter of a nuclear-armed, ship-based missile makes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “infinitely more dangerous than most Americans in their wildest imaginations might think him to be,” Gaffney said.

Iran’s leaders have spoken openly about the elimination of both Israel and the United States, Gaffney pointed out, saying that is one reason he strongly opposes Sen. Barack Obama’s willingness to engage in direct negotiations with the Iranian regime.

Obama’s “mind-set is that you can safely, responsibly, and constructively negotiate some kind of terms with a regime like that of Iran, which has made no bones about its desire to bring about a world without America,” Gaffney said. “I personally cannot see what there is to talk about with such a regime, and I think it would be a serious mistake.”

Obama would be “a very poor commander in chief in a desperately serious time of war,” Gaffney said.

By contrast, Gaffney said McCain “brings to the job a greater degree of both expertise and affinity for the military, and therefore I think would almost certainly make better choices than Barack Obama on national security.”

VIDEO: Gaffney Interview: Ahmadinejad 'More Dangerous Than Most of Us Can Comprehend'

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