Analysts are accustomed to bizarre words and actions from North Korea, but its behavior the last week has left the world to wonder what the Hermit Kingdom will do next.
On March 11, Pyongyang declared that it had nullified the 1953 truce that ended the Korean War. “The U.S. has reduced the armistice agreement to a dead paper,” the country’s state-run media said.
The announcement came as South Korea and the U.S. continued through a two-month session of joint military drills, including a new exercise that brought an additional 2,500 American troops to the Korean Peninsula.
The North’s Most Dangerous Leader Yet
After the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011, his son Kim Jong-un took up the reins of North Korea. Many analysts thought the transition would trigger a reversal in the country’s rogue behavior. The young Kim Jong-un received a Western education, and was an outspoken fan of Michael Jordan and James Bond films. Optimistic Westerners said what little information was available about Jong-un suggested that he might abandon the internal oppression and external belligerency that had marked the reigns of his father and grandfather.
But the young Jong-un is desperate to prove himself worthy to his nation’s hard-line military, and it is now clear that nuclear North Korea under his rule is more aggressive, more unpredictable and more dangerous than ever before.
Last month, Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear weapons test, prompting the United Nations to impose new sanctions on it. The North responded to the sanctions by threatening preemptive nuclear attacks on South Korea and the U.S. “[O]ur intercontinental ballistic missiles … are on a standby,” Vice Defense Minister Kang Pyo-yang said. “If we push the button, they will blast off and their barrage will turn Washington, the stronghold of American imperialists and the nest of evil … into a sea of fire.”
But would the North actually attempt any attacks with its relatively primitive weaponry? And could any such attempt be successful?
On Sunday, Congressman Mike Rogers said the threats are not empty bluster: “They certainly have a ballistic missile that can reach U.S. shores. You have a 28-year-old leader who is trying to prove himself to the military, and the military is eager to have a saber-rattling for their own self-interest, and the combination of that is proving to be very, very deadly.”
Recent history has also taught the North that, shy of sanctions, there is no reason not to provoke U.S. allies. Back in 2010, a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo into a South Korean ship, sinking the vessel and killing 46 sailors. Later that year, North Korean forces killed four South Koreans with an artillery barrage. Pyongyang was only slapped on the wrist for those incidents, so its leaders seem to think they can antagonize again without retaliation from the U.S.
Logic suggests they are right.
After Pyongyang said the truce had been nullified, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky gave a response representative of many western views: “Let me just stress here that the Armistice Agreement is still valid and is still in force, and that the terms of the Armistice Agreement do not allow either side unilaterally to free themselves from it.”
So, North Korea isn’t allowed to break the truce unless the international community says it can break it? Pyongyang’s track record shows that it has little regard for what the international community “allows.” It also shows that the pariah nation actively seeks to antagonize the U.S. and South Korea.
If North Korea does start a war or commit other isolated acts of aggression, and if America does nothing, it may signal to Iran, Russia and other enemies of the West that they too can get away with aggression and provocations.
The China Factor
North Korea owes its existence to China. Without the support of Chinese troops, the North would surely have been defeated during the Korean War. The Chinese oil and food that crosses the border—often illegally—is pretty much all that’s keeping Kim’s regime afloat. As North Korea’s white knight, China has immense influence over Pyongyang.
Beijing signed on to the last round of sanctions, but, in the past, Chinese companies have flagrantly helped the North evade sanctions, and there’s no reason to think that will change. Despite Beijing’s endorsement of the sanctions, China is actually using erratic North Korea as a proxy to intimidate its Asian neighbors and to antagonize the West. With China maintaining its role as Pyongyang’s protector, it is unlikely the U.S. or any other nation will take decisive action against North Korea’s illegal nuclear development and other provocations.
Asia’s rising tensions point to dark times on the horizon, but the Bible makes plain that this is actually leading to the most spectacular event in the history of the universe: the return of Jesus Christ, and the beginning of an age of peace for Asia and for the whole of mankind. To understand more, read Russia and China in Prophecy.
The Cypriot bailout agreed in the earlier hours of Saturday morning could be a game changer for the eurozone. It was a resounding victory for Germany, but the compromise reached could see banks collapse across Southern Europe.
Cyprus places Germany in a dilemma. The country needs a bailout of around €17 billion (us$22 billion) to avoid going bankrupt. To German elites, this is a great opportunity to gain control of one of the world’s most strategic pieces of real estate. But ordinary German taxpayers don’t care about this. They don’t want their money going to what they believe is a crooked banking system.
Saturday’s decision allows Germany to have its cake and eat it. The meeting of eurozone finance ministers decided to loan Cyprus €10 billion. The International Monetary Fund (imf) will probably also join in. But the bailout comes with a shocking and unprecedented condition.
Cypriots will have money taken directly out of their bank accounts. Monday is a bank holiday in Cyprus. By the time banks open on Tuesday, all depositors will have a chunk taken out of their account. Accounts with less than €100,000 will face a levy of 6.75 percent. Those with more, will be taxed at 9.9 percent.
This decision blurs the line between taxation and theft. If you had $10,000 of savings in a bank account—that you had already paid tax on—the government would take $675.
Even government members were surprised. “My initial reaction is one of shock,” said the head of parliamentary financial affairs committee, Nicholas Papadopoulos. “This decision is much worse than what we expected and contrary to what the government was assuring us, right up until last night,” he told Reuters. The current leadership has constantly promised there would be no tax on bank deposits. They have been forced into total surrender by Germany.
But this course of action could solve big problems for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The deposit levy is expected to raise nearly €6 billion. It reduces the amount Germany will have to contribute, and German taxpayers are less likely to be hostile to a bailout if they see the Cypriots having to pay some money too.
Germany was reportedly behind this demand. “By many accounts, Germany entered the negotiations with a radical stance, arguing from the start for a large hit to depositors,” writes think tank Open Europe. “It is clear that, with elections looming, the German government is no longer willing to simply foot the bill to avoid contagion. This could be a very important turning point for the eurozone crisis.”
In addition to the bank levy, Cyprus will raise its corporation tax from 10 percent to 12.5 percent. Its low corporation tax has long been a sore point with many EU nations. Russia will also chip in by extending a €2.5 billion loan that it already gave Cyprus.
Savers will receive shares in the banks that are forced to take their money, but even so, Cypriots are incensed. Cooperative banks, which were open on Saturday, were forced to close as people rushed to get their money out. One man drove to his bank with a bulldozer, and threatened to take the money out himself. ATMs across the country ran out of notes as people tried to withdraw all the money they could.
But the aftereffects could be disastrous. Spanish leaders insist that this is a one-off imposition. But leaders said the same thing about bond haircuts in Greece, which EU leaders have considered imposing elsewhere. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the group of eurozone finance ministers, refused to say that the tax would not be repeated.
Spain has already been facing a slow-motion bank run, with savers steadily withdrawing their money. Spain, Italy, and even nations like France, Belgium and Austria could be next to request a bailout. Would you keep your money in a Spanish bank if you thought there was a chance that the EU might help itself to some of your cash? And if people start withdrawing their money from Spanish and Italian banks en masse, it will bring down their banking systems.
The EU bailout fund isn’t big enough to bail out these two countries simultaneously. The resulting panic could bring down the euro.
Even if Spanish savers don’t rush out to get their money next week, they will be far more keen to do so at the first hint of trouble anytime in the future.
“The move was apparently pushed by the Germans,” writes Robin Shepherd, who owns and publishes The Commentator. “Every depositor in southern Europe has now been put on notice that if their country needs bailout money any time in the next few years the deal could easily involve swiping money from the accounts of ordinary savers.”
That could be the pattern from now on: Germany bails out a nation in return for key concession. But not only do they get power over that nation, but ordinary savers are recruited to provide some of the cash. The German taxpayer will be much less opposed to this kind of bailout, because Germany gets the same amount of power for a lower cost.
But there is yet more uncertainty. The Cypriot parliament was meant to meet on Sunday to approve the bailout. The meeting has been cancelled. The most obvious reason is that the government isn’t sure the bailout will be approved. It wants more time to drum up support. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has said that a vote against the bailout is a vote for Cyprus to leave the euro. So if it doesn’t pass, Cyprus could be the first country to leave the euro, putting the eurozone in uncharted territory.
If Cyprus leaves the euro, though, it would almost certainly mean the total collapse of the island nation’s banking system. It must submit to Germany, or else. Only, Germany’s terms are so harsh that Cyprus is seriously considering the “or else.”
The Trumpet has long said that the euro was deliberately set up to trigger a crisis. This crisis would force Europe to unite and bring more power to Germany. We are seeing that dynamic in action in Cyprus.
But the crisis is far from over. Its job is not yet done. It will force Europe to unite into a 10-nation superstate. And the Cyprus bailout could mark the beginning in a new stage of this crisis.
Hezbollah has been blacklisted by the United States for over 17 years, but Europe has not taken the same initiative up to this point. Some European nations, including Britain, are willing to label Hezbollah as a terrorist group, but others remain reluctant, despite abundant evidence—from confessions of captured Lebanese terrorists to bloodstained cobblestones in Bulgaria.
A dangerous mindset is being highlighted in the European Parliament. Some say the lack of action stems from a fear of reprisal attacks from the Lebanese-based terrorists. It is willing to sit back as Hezbollah grows in power and threatens Israel’s northern border.
In speaking about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the Israeli president suggested that the EU condemn the Islamic Republic. He referred to the U.S. condemnation of Russia in 1975, which he said was “surprising and effective.” “A moral voice will encourage the Iranian people in their fight for freedom, in their struggle against misery,” Mr. Peres said.
The most intriguing aspect of the president’s speech revolved around his view of Europe itself, and its relations with the Jews.
President Peres started his speech recalling his childhood as his family fled Europe in 1934. Then he recalled how, “in 1942, most of the inhabitants of my town were burned alive.” He pointed out that more Jews have been butchered in Europe in the past 100 years than in the previous 2,000.
Despite this history, the Israeli president stood in the heart of Europe asking for help. He went on to praise Europe for having “divorced its past” and having “converted the divided Europe of the last thousand years, to the unified Europe of today.”
These statements—and the fact that they are being made by an Israeli president before the European Parliament—resonate with prophetic significance.
As longtime Trumpet readers are aware, the Bible prophesies that the challenges facing the Jewish state of Israel are going to continue to grow in the time ahead. It tells us that the alliance between America and Israel will continue to deteriorate, and there will come a point that the Jews seek saving aid from another source—Europe. All of these prophecies are explained in detail in our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy.
Biblical prophecies go even further, providing several details that make President Peres’s speech all the more filled with unintended irony. Europe will step in and deal with Iran. The president may get what he wished for. However, the European powerhouse will not stop there. God says it will enter into the “glorious land” and turn on those who, at first, it appears to be helping (Daniel 11:41). That will be one of the greatest double crosses in history.
When Israel goes to Europe for help, alarms should be sounding worldwide. Study Germany and the Holy Roman Empire to see how this world-shaping calamity will develop.
Iran Tests, Gaza Fires
AMIN KHOROSHAHI/AFP/Getty Image
This week Iran test-fired both its Fajr-5 and Nasreat-10 missiles.
March 17, 2013
Iran successfully tested two types of short-range missiles in military operations on March 9. Iran’s ground forces staged the three-day drill in the country’s southwestern province of Khuzestan.
The two types of missile tested were the Fajr-5 and the Nazreat-10. The Fajr-5 made headlines around the world when a number were launched in the missile barrage from Gaza into Israel in November. Their range allowed them to penetrate deep into Israel. Some went as far as the foothills of Jerusalem.
The Fajr-5 has been developed in Iran for a number of years. When they showed up in Gaza, controlled by forces that couldn’t design such a weapon themselves, questions were raised as to where they came from.
Israel continually accuses Iran of smuggling the weapons through Africa, up into the Sinai Peninsula, and then through the tunnels on the border of Egypt into Gaza. Israel has been accused of carrying out an air raid in October on a Sudanese factory that was producing weapons allegedly destined for Gaza.
The Fajr-5 is tested in Iran, and launched in Gaza. The Nazeat-10, the other missile Iran tested on Tuesday, is the Fajr-5’s big brother. While the radius of the Fajr-5 is approximately 45 miles, the Nazeat-10 can reach up to 62 miles.
During Israel’s conflict with Gaza, sirens rang in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Fajr-5 missiles landed in areas surrounding the cities. The technology for those missiles came from Iran. What happens if the technology for the Nazeat-10, or the missiles themselves, makes its way to Gaza? Will Hamas show restraint in using the longer range weapons?
In late 2008, Israel undertook Operation Cast Lead with the intent of stemming the attacks on Israel from both militants and rockets. The operation succeeded in slowing the attacks from Hamas terrorists, but failed to destroy them. They came back more powerful than ever in 2012 with the use of rockets such as the Fajr-5.
Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense took place in late 2012, as a response to rockets fired from Gaza. The surgical strikes by Israel in response hindered the terrorists, but once again failed to destroy them. What will happen in the next round?
If Hamas follows its current trend, it will be stronger in the next round of conflict. Watch Iran and its allies as they test weapons and flex their military muscle. What is developed and tested in Iran invariably finds its way to the Gaza Strip.
Watch as the Persians push further to promote their agenda in the Middle East and abroad. Read The King of the South to see how this endeavor will end.
Germans Demand Radical Change in the EU
One of Germany’s main parties calls for Europe to transform into a superstate, while a new party goes to the other extreme, calling for Germany to quit the euro.
March 16, 2013
The European Commission should expand its powers to become a full-fledged European government says Germany’s Social Democratic Party (spd) in a draft of its manifesto.
The EU proposal reportedly described looks a lot like a federal superstate. As German news media reported on March 9, the European Commission would become a cabinet of ministers, with real powers, elected by the European Parliament. A second chamber would be added to the parliament, where national governments would be represented.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has outlined similar ideas. If the spd is putting this in its manifesto, it shows that Germany’s two biggest parties are serious about Europe becoming a superstate.
The spd also called for the creation of a common European debt fund—which would mean giving up more sovereignty to the EU.
The spd could do well in the upcoming elections. Current polls show current Chancellor Angela Merkel and her allies receiving 45 percent of the vote, and the spd and its ally receiving 43 percent—so it is too close to call. To make matters more unpredictable, Angela Merkel’s traditional coalition partner, the Free Democrats (fdp) are polling at around 5 percent. To be represented in Germany’s parliament, a party must receive a minimum of 5 percent of the vote. Less than this, and they receive no seats. The fdp’s popularity just needs to sink by a fraction of a percent, and Merkel would be completely deprived of a key ally.
To complicate matters further, there is a new party on the scene. Called “Alternative für Deutschland” (afd), it seeks the opposite: It wants Germany out of the euro.
“The introduction of the euro has proved to be a fatal mistake, that threatens the welfare of us all,” states the afd website. “The old parties are used up. They stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes.” The afd wants Germany return to the Deutschmark, or to form a new currency with the northern countries—Austria, the Netherlands, Finland and perhaps some others.
Germany has been bailing out Europe and in return Berlin has been gaining more influence over Europe. This is great, if you’re a leader in Germany or a strategic planner. But the average German voter doesn’t see the benefit. The vast majority are opposed to bailing out Cyprus. If a Euroskeptic party becomes a growing concern in Germany, then eurozone nations will have to give up even more to persuade Germany to bail them out.
How will the new afd party impact Europe’s politics? Open Europe, a reliable think tank, is convinced that there is no way it will come close to receiving the 5 percent of the vote necessary to enter Germany’s parliament. This analysis is hard to dismiss. But in a year when Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement came from nowhere to become Italy’s most popular political party, anything seems possible. The new party will certainly apply pressure on Angela Merkel as she struggles to deal with unpopular bailouts.
One thing is clear though: Germans aren’t happy with Europe the way it is now. The big parties want to change it into a superstate. The upstarts want to overthrow it entirely. Either way, Germans want to radically change Europe.