- MIDDLE EAST
While Iran expands its nuclear program and increases its influence in the region, Israel has vowed not to allow another Holocaust. What will result from the mounting tensions in the Middle East?
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The specter of the volatile Middle East turning into a nuclear battlefield looms ever closer to reality as Iran defies global opinion, feverishly strives (as the international community suspects) to develop atomic weapons and repeatedly calls for Israel’s utter destruction.
Some say that time is running out for Israel to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons complex before Tehran has the capability to launch long-range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads aimed at Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities. The prospect of mushroom clouds casting long shadows over this strategic region of the world is not out of the realm of possibility!
Britain’s The Sunday Times caused a worldwide stir when it reported in early January that Israeli pilots were training to strike an underground uranium enrichment plant south of Tehran with low-yield “bunker buster” nuclear weapons, as well as two other Iranian nuclear sites with conventional bombs.
The Times reported that Israeli military officials believe Iran could produce enough enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons within two years, and that Israeli pilots had made flights to Gibraltar to train for the 2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets. It has been widely presumed since the 1970s that Israel has nuclear weapons in its arsenal.
On January 24, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told an annual security conference that Israel will respond to an Iranian nuclear threat “with all the means at our disposal.” He said nations of the world have no choice but to act forcefully against Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
However, despite Israel’s successful 1981 air strike against an atomic reactor in Iraq, many conclude Israel cannot take on Iran’s nuclear facilities without support from other nations.
Some observers view President George W. Bush’s decision to dispatch another aircraft carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf, create a “troop surge” of 20,000 more soldiers in Iraq, along with deploying more Patriot missiles to U.S. military bases in the region, as keeping his options open in the event of a military attack on Iran.
On January 26, President Bush denied his administration was preparing military action against Iran, but he did confirm he authorized U.S. troops to hunt down or take out Iranian operatives in Iraq. Some view this order as a prelude to tougher action. Two weeks earlier, he pledged to “interrupt the flow of support [for extremists in Iraq] from Iran and Syria…We will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”
In his State of the Union address to Congress, Mr. Bush linked Iran with al-Qaeda, the terrorist group blamed for the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans. In a short statement to commemorate International Holocaust Day, Iran was the only country the President cited by name: “The Iranian regime…perversely seeks to call into question the historical fact of the Nazis’ campaign of mass murder.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), warned that Iran expects to start installing at least 3,000 centrifuges in its enrichment plant in February, accelerating its ability to create dozens of nuclear warheads each year. Centrifuges enrich uranium and can be used to make nuclear energy or nuclear weaponry.
In December, the UN Security Council passed 15-0 a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its repeated refusal to cooperate fully with the IAEA or to suspend uranium enrichment. Mr. ElBaradei is to report to the council by February 21 on whether Iran has suspended enrichment. If it has not, sanctions could be tightened.
In its January 29 issue, Aviation Week & Space Technology reported that Iran has converted one of its most powerful ballistic missiles into a satellite launch vehicle. The 30-ton rocket could be used to test longer-range missile strike technologies. “Orbiting its own satellite would also send a powerful message throughout the Muslim world about the Shiite regime in Tehran.”
Fired from Iran, the rocket has the capability of striking anywhere in Israel, Saudi Arabia, the entire Persian Gulf region and as far as Turkey. The West is worried that upgrades could lead to the creation of an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a nearly 2,500-mile range—giving Tehran the ability to strike as far as central Europe, Russia, China and India.
A U.S. congressional report in November 2006 reinforced concerns over Iranian and North Korean missile technology ties. Israel’s military intelligence chief indicated that North Korea has shipped to Iran 18 ballistic missiles with a range of 1,500 miles and the capability to carry nuclear warheads.
Meanwhile, some Israelis are wondering if they can put confidence in America’s will to protect their tiny nation from the overwhelming force of the Islamic countries surrounding them.
Some sources indicate an Israeli nuclear attack against Iran will be launched before the November 2008 U.S. presidential election. “In order to make absolutely certain of success in one short duration operation…we believe the Israelis will be forced to think the unthinkable—nuclear!” NewsMax reported. “We believe an Israeli attack is pending. It is just a question of when.”
Could the world soon wake up one day to learn the Israelis have initiated the first nuclear military attack since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945? Bible prophecy shows that in the last days the hand of Judah, the father of the Jews, would be on the neck of his enemies, and he would be like a crouched young lion ready to pounce (Gen. 49:8-9). It also shows the leaders of Judah will be “like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left” (Zech. 12:6 – NKJV).
With more countries vying for nuclear weapons, the world is becoming extremely dangerous. At the end of January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand of the legendary Doomsday Clock forward by two minutes to show the world is only five minutes from the ultimate catastrophe brought on by nuclear war or other factors. The danger worsens with each passing day!