Tuesday, 19 November 2019
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nuclear weapons

By Nick Watts, Great North News Services

The Middle East is described by commentators variously as a powder keg, a region on a precipice and other dramatic metaphors. From the standpoint of a policy practitioner from the region, it seems like a three dimensional chess puzzle. Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London yesterday, Dan Meridor gave his reflections on recent changes in the region, and on continuing uncertainties. Meridor combines the role of Israeli Deputy Prime Minister along with the posts of Minister of Intelligence and of Nuclear energy. This and his long experience in Israeli politics gives him a very good perspective.

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By Scott Stewart and Nate Hughes

Over the past decade there has been an ongoing debate over the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to modern civilization. This debate has been the most heated perhaps in the United States, where the commission appointed by Congress to assess the threat to the United States warned of the dangers posed by EMP in reports released in 2004 and 2008. The commission also called for a national commitment to address the EMP threat by hardening the national infrastructure.

There is little doubt that efforts by the United States to harden infrastructure against EMP and its ability to manage critical infrastructure manually in the event of an EMP attack have been eroded in recent decades as the Cold War ended and the threat of nuclear conflict with Russia lessened. This is also true of the U.S. military, which has spent little time contemplating such scenarios in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The cost of remedying the situation, especially retrofitting older systems rather than simply regulating that new systems be better hardened, is immense. And as with any issue involving massive amounts of money, the debate over guarding against EMP has become quite politicized in recent years.

We have long avoided writing on this topic for precisely that reason. However, as the debate over the EMP threat has continued, a great deal of discussion about the threat has appeared in the media. Many STRATFOR readers have asked for our take on the threat, and we thought it might be helpful to dispassionately discuss the tactical elements involved in such an attack and the various actors that could conduct one. The following is our assessment of the likelihood of an EMP attack against the United States.

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