Happy Memorial Day. I Have a Nuclear Bomb.
Kim Jong Il gave the United States a beating last week.
It started Monday, as America honored its war dead on Memorial Day. The North Korean dictator chose that occasion to test his nation’s second nuclear device, which was 20 times more powerful than its first. Lest you think the date was coincidental, remember that the first launch came in 2006 on July 4, America’s Independence Day. These aren’t flukes. They’re statements.
Kim then announced that he would view America’s efforts to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear activities as a declaration of war. He threatened a “strong military strike” on South Korea for agreeing to join a U.S.-led program to stop and search ships suspected of carrying wmd, and said his nation’s ceasefire with South Korea—in force since 1953—no longer applies.
North Korea then proceeded to test launch six short-range missiles capable of reaching Japan. On Saturday, Pyongyang appeared to be shipping a long-range missile to a launchpad—similar to the one it illegally launched in April that could reach the U.S. West Coast.
In the past, Kim would have separated each of those provocative moves with a few months of calm. That way, naive diplomats could pretend like what he was really after was leverage at the bargaining table—and the U.S. would then lead international efforts to pacify North Korea with economic or diplomatic incentives.
No longer. This is a different North Korea. More aggressive, more belligerent—signs of a fundamental change in mindset.
So much for Washington’s hope for a new era of international engagement. Clearly, Pyongyang doesn’t want engagement. It wants nuclear weapons. It wants secure self-defense. As an unnamed U.S. official told debkafile about the nuclear test, “It has brought into crystalline focus what North Korea’s intentions are—that they do mean to develop this capability.”
But is it that crystalline to Washington?
After that long-range missile test in April, President Obama issued some stern threats—in the middle of a speech where he promised to reduce America’s nuclear arsenal. (The irony surely wasn’t lost on the man who tests nukes on U.S. war-themed holidays.) “Now is the time for a strong international response,” the American president said. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” A full week later, the United Nations Security Council followed through on Obama’s promise by issuing a mild statement of displeasure at North Korea. North Korea responded by booting the UN’s inspectors from the country. It announced it would resume plutonium production and said it would never again join multinational talks aimed at halting its nuclear program.
To this day, the “strong international response” to that April test has yet to materialize. The rules aren’t binding. Violations aren’t being punished. Words mean nothing. Kim Jong Il is banking on it staying that way no matter what he does.
Indications are he’s right. Last Saturday, after the string of provocations, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in Asia—or on us”—and gave no indication what that means specifically in terms of U.S. action. “What is now central to multilateral efforts … is to try to peacefully stop those programs before they do in fact become a ‘clear and present danger,’” he said.
North Korea has tested missiles that could hit the U.S.—and a bomb that some say was many times more powerful than Little Boy and Fat Man—and it’s not yet a “clear and present danger”?
What would tip it over that edge? Secretary Gates said the U.S. would consider it a “grave threat” if Pyongyang transferred nuclear technology to other nations—but apparently not if it remained in North Korea. Incidentally, that is precisely the language George W. Bush used after North Korea’s nuclear test in 2006. That language essentially accepts North Korea as a nuclear power.
But why speak as though that technology isn’t being exported? North Korea’s links with Iran’s nuclear program are well documented. The nuclear site in Syria that Israel destroyed in September 2007 was running North Korean technology. “North Korea’s nuclear program, with its warhead, missile and technological components … endangers not just the likes of Japan and South Korea, but all nations whose territory and interests are within range of Iranian and Syrian missiles,” wrote Caroline Glick. How is this not yet considered a “grave threat”?
Secretary Gates says there is time yet “to try to peacefully stop those programs.” Any guesses how those efforts will fare? After its nuclear test in 2006, Pyongyang was punished with the resumption of multilateral negotiations. Last summer, it demanded that the U.S. remove it from a list of states that sponsor terrorism. And despite it doing nothing to comply with America’s requests for transparency in its nuclear program, in October the Bush administration complied anyway. The gesture achieved nothing. Today, North Korea has 6 to 12 nuclear devices, U.S. officials believe. It has learned and learned again that there is absolutely nothing to fear in pursuing such weapons. In fact, Kim Jong Il appears ready to give up even the pretense of discussion. President Obama’s special envoy to North Korea has made several offers to visit Pyongyang and been turned down.
What has been called “the post-American world” didn’t start with President Obama. But his administration is rapidly leading the world deeper into it. The hallmarks of this world are numerous and frightening. North Korea’s unrestrained boldness is only one—and it has several notable side effects, two of which we’ll briefly consider for their prophetic significance.
One is a surge in militarism within Asia. Defense spending throughout the continent increased after North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test, as did a blossoming of cooperation among Pyongyang’s neighbors as they sought to deal jointly with the threat. After North Korea’s latest tests, Japan seized on the situation to boost its arguments for scrapping its post-World War ii pacifism. Yesterday, Tokyo approved plans for a missile early-warning system, and it is seriously discussing the need for an offensive military force with first-strike capability. “The threat is elevated and Japan should seek to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” said a former Japanese Air Force chief. A united and militarized Asia is vividly portrayed in biblical prophecy, and described in our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy. Recent events are hastening it.
The second effect is how it strengthens Iran. Aside from the material assistance it has received from North Korea on its nuclear program, Tehran is no doubt inspired by the exposure of America’s feebleness. “This point was brought home clearly by both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s immediate verbal response to the North Korean nuclear test on Monday and by Iran’s provocative launch of warships in the Gulf of Aden the same day,” wrote Glick. We can expect Iran to follow North Korea’s lead both in belligerency, and in its eventual nuclear military capability. (That eventuality lurched one step closer to reality yesterday when President Obama said Iran has a legitimate right to develop nuclear power—sinking another nail in the coffin of U.S.-Israeli relations.) Iran’s ascendancy was also prophesied and is expounded on in our booklet The King of the South.
America isn’t even factoring into these events—except as a source of derision. The beating it has taken from tiny, Third World North Korea would be shocking if it weren’t something we have been warning for decades would happen, based on the scriptures explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
It’s been 64 years since nuclear weapons were used in war. It is a mistake to think that they won’t be used again. The Bible says they will—and on a massive scale. You can read about that in our booklet “We Have Had Our Last Chance”, and in the newest print edition of the Trumpet, “The World Will Not End This Way!”
Jesus Christ once warned of certain signs of the end of this age, and cautioned: “[W]hen ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” To the student of those prophecies, recent events in Asia cannot be shrugged off. They represent a hastening toward the climactic conclusion of this age.