A former Clinton-era CIA director is raising new concerns that Iran or North Korea will send U.S. civilization “to a cold, dark halt” by firing a nuke over America’s southern border, which is largely absent of missile defenses.

R. James Woolsey said that the two rogue nations would copy the Russians, which launches satellites in an unusual trajectory that doesn’t send their gear over the northern border — the direction the Air Force anticipates a missile attack from.

Woolsey is one of the nation’s leaders pushing Congress to defend against so-called electromagnetic pulse attacks. He and other government advisors fear Iran or North Korea are eyeing an EMP attack by detonating a nuclear-tipped missile over the East Coast, wiping out computers and electricity over half the nation — and killing up to 90 percent of those it impacts in a year.

Woolsey told the House Armed Services Committee this month that the Russians have mastered launches that toss satellites from south to north over the U.S.

He dubbed it “Fractional Orbital Bombardment System,” and said that since the U.S. has few anti-missile defenses looking south, a missile attack “does not require accuracy, size or numbers to be effective.”

Woolsey has been urging Washington to consider a $2 billion program to protect the nation’s electrical grid from EMP, which can also come from a solar blast.

He explained the impact of an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the U.S. during a hearing focused on missile threats. “The nuclear weapon would be detonated in orbit, perhaps during its first orbit, in order to destroy much of the electric grid from above the U.S. with a single explosion. Some of the destructive effects would reach to the horizon; others, via transmission lines, can reach further. Unlike the situation if we are attacked with a traditional nuclear missile, we may not know the source of what blacks out our electric grid. It might be the sun or it might be the Iranians. We might not be able to tell.”

Quoting from a congressional study on EMP, he added, “within 12 months of an EMP event, two-thirds of the U.S. population would likely perish from starvation, disease, and societal breakdown. Other experts estimate the likely loss to be closer to 90 percent.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.