This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

It's not just Israel that could be in danger if Iran violates the terms of a nuclear agreement with the United States, 2016 presidential contender Ted Cruz says.

Cruz told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill that the "worst-case scenario is that Iran actually uses a nuclear weapon." Israel could be a target, but Cruz says the United States itself is also at risk.

"If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, one of the most dangerous things it could do with it is load that weapon onto a ship anywhere in the Atlantic, fire the warhead straight into the air, into the atmosphere. If you get high enough and detonate that warhead, it would set off an electromagnetic pulse, what is called an EMP," Cruz said. "That EMP could shut down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, could take down our stock market, our financial systems, but even more importantly could take down food delivery, water delivery, heat, air conditioning, transportation. The projections are that one nuclear warhead in the atmosphere over the Eastern seaboard could result in tens of millions of Americans dying.

"That is what is at risk," Cruz said when asked about potential outcome of a nuclear deal.

The senator from Texas is one of many Republicans in the GOP field bemoaning the historic nuclear deal between Iran, the United States, and other world powers, but his concerns go beyond what others have warned.

Cruz has been a vocal critic of the deal, calling out the Obama administration for not using its place at the table to secure the release of four American prisoners in Iran. The Obama administration has tried to assure Congress in its lobbying efforts that a nuclear deal will halt Iran's nuclear-weapons program and stop the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Cruz argues that the deal's lack of "anytime, anywhere" inspections makes it very likely Iran will continue spinning centrifuges without interruption.

"This Iran inspection regime is designed to always, always, always have a perfect inspection record, because with 24 days advanced notice, Iran can evade sanctions, and it is designed to facilitate Iran's evading sanctions," Cruz said.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.