The Heritage Foundation documentary "33 Minutes" may not be the happiest movie of the holiday season, but its warning to the American public about the risk of a nuclear attack could not be more timely.
In recent months, North Korea's missiles have grown in rank and capacity. The most recent missile it tested, the Hwasong-15, can reach any part of the continental United States. This is a deeply alarming development.
When the documentary was first released in 2007 and then updated in 2016, the idea of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile being able to reach the United States remained a reckless but not yet realized possibility.
Now that North Korea has stated its intention to continue developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of threatening the United States with nuclear warheads, it is even more important for the Ballistic Missile Defense Review of the Trump administration to finance comprehensive defense of missiles.
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The title of the documentary, "33 Minutes", refers to the maximum amount of time the US government has. UU I would have to respond to an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile from anywhere in the world. Beyond showing this brief response time, the film vividly shows the threat of a nuclear attack and its destructive consequences.
The first and best known form of attack is the use of a nuclear weapon to physically destroy an important city such as New York. The second is the use of such a weapon to generate an electromagnetic pulse.
The bomb that destroyed a large part of the center of Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 had an explosive performance of 15 kilotons. North Korea's nuclear test in October was equivalent to 250 kilotons of TNT.
As noted in the movie narration, the terrorist attacks of September 11, which used commercial aircraft as weapons, caused 3,000 deaths and $ 80 billion in damages. A nuclear bomb dropped in Manhattan would cause hundreds of thousands of casualties and billions in damages.
The second major concern mentioned by the film is that of an electromagnetic pulse attack.
In this scenario, a nuclear bomb is detonated hundreds of miles above the United States, sending a blast of powerful electrons. In a matter of seconds, the nation's power grid and almost everything that works with electricity, for example. Electronic devices such as telephones, Internet services, electric power, car batteries and even aircraft controls could be affected or permanently damaged in the continental United States.
Experts do not agree on how destructive a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack would be, since the state has ever tried it. What is clear is that the USA. UU They have taken some steps to proactively defend their electrical network from this type of attack.
A comprehensive missile defense system in layers is one of the best ways to protect the United States from a ballistic missile attack. In 2017, 71 percent of Americans said the threat from North Korea's nuclear missiles should be taken very seriously, according to a Pew survey.
While the United States has steadily increased its number of intermediate terrestrial interceptors and has increased naval ships equipped with missile interceptors, more needs to be done.
The United States has not followed any serious missile defense program in the momentum or space-based phase. It stopped the multi-vehicle program that would have made the current interceptors more efficient and effective.
As the Trump administration reviews the US anti-missile defense policy, it has a precious opportunity to correct these defects.
"33 Minutes" represents the worst case scenario for a nuclear missile attack launched against the United States. Preventing this scenario from becoming a reality depends, in part, on fully funding our missile defense apparatus and investing in advanced technologies that will help protect Americans from the kind of devastation we have so far avoided.