WASHINGTON -- Pentagon estimates show that Iran could have missiles capable of reaching the East Coast of the United States by the year 2015.
If the Iranians acquire a nuclear bomb, they might be able to cripple their "Great Satan" even sooner through an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack off America's coastline.
"Within a year of an EMP event, at least two-thirds of the American population would perish from starvation, disease, and societal collapse. It's a high-tech means of killing people the old fashioned way," Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, president of EMPact America, explained.
A nuclear weapon detonated above the U.S. would emit powerful electromagnetic pulses, frying America's electrical grid and shutting down necessities from cars to computers to airplanes and refrigerators.
Iranian military handbooks point out the benefits of such an attack. Russia, China, and North Korea also possess EMP technology.
Pry, a member of the congressional EMP Commission, said America could plunge back into the 19th century, with Katrina-like chaos nationwide.
"A single nuclear weapon will cause the collapse of the electric power grid, all the critical infrastructures and other electronic systems across the entire continental United States and basically cause a permanent blackout," he told CBN News.
Pry's nightmare scenario shows Iran or its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, parking an unmarked freighter off America's East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico.
They would fire a nuclear-tipped scud above a city like New York, then immediately sink the freighter to destroy evidence of their handiwork.
"Even if we were able to identify the scud by our radars, we wouldn't be able to identify who did it," he explained. "This is a way of keeping your fingerprints off it."
Former CIA double agent Reza Kahlili spent time as a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. He said the Iranians have conducted missiles tests off ships in the Caspian Sea, which are consistent with an EMP-style attack.
"They're going to get to the Gulf of Mexico with ballistic missiles, and they're going to launch one at a moment's notice. And they wouldn't care about the repercussions," he told CBN News.
Kahlili's book, A Time to Betray, details Iran's rapidly advancing ballistic missile program.
"They have obtained missiles from North Korea that can now target the capitals of Europe," Kahlili said.
There are reports that Iran plans to establish missiles bases in Venezuela, where it has a vast network. And an Iranian official recently threatened to send military ships to patrol America's Atlantic coast.
Legislation is currently pending in Congress that would harden America's electrical grid against an EMP attack.
Sponsors of the bill, called the SHIELD Act, say it would cost less than $1 billion to do it. But the bill has yet to pass.