“Blood, Fire and Pillars of Smoke”
Vol: 19 Issue: 25 Friday, April 25, 2003
At a three-way meeting between officials of the United States, China and North Korea, the North Koreans kicked open the front door to the Nuclear Club and announced it was the newest member. Pyongyang’s negotiator took U.S. negotiator James Kelly aside at the talks and whisper in his ear that North Korea had gone nuclear.
Kelly has said nothing publicly. But a Japanese official said the U.S. envoy informed Japan his North Korean counterpart, Li Gun, had made the disclosure at lunch on Thursday.
The Washington Post quoted a U.S. official as saying Li had pulled Kelly aside and said, in effect: “We’ve got nukes. We can’t dismantle them. It’s up to you whether we do a physical demonstration or transfer them.”
Whether or not a ‘physical demonstration’ means a nuclear test or a nuclear strike is open to interpretation, but the threat to ‘transfer’ them is not. The latter is a clear threat to proliferate nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. Like, say, a terrorist group?
How serious is the North Korean admission? Foreign policy analysts said the North Koreans might be trying to deter any possible U.S. attack or to increase the pressure on Washington to meet their demand for security guarantees, aid and diplomatic recognition.
They also said it was ‘conceivable’ the North Koreans were bluffing. Pyongyang, which has been seeking a non-aggression pact with the United States, fears that the quick U.S. military victory in Iraq might embolden Washington to use force against North Korea. North Korea, along with Iran and prewar Iraq, constitute Bush’s “axis of evil.”
The Chinese, who leaked the North Korean admission to the press in the first place, are also saying that US and North Korean negotiators ‘agreed with a handshake to keep diplomatic channels open’ — whatever that means.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said “strong views were presented” by all sides. “The North Koreans should not leave the meetings in Beijing, now that they have come to a conclusion … with the slightest impression that the United States and its partners will be intimidated by bellicose statements or by threats, Powell told the U.S. Asia-Pacific Council.
On Monday, the North Koreans issued a statement saying, “As we have already declared, we are successfully going forward to reprocess work more than 8,000 spent fuel rods at the final phase.”
Pyongyang is standing by its admission, and jacking up the rhetoric, saying that ‘war could break out any minute’ and that it needs its nuclear weapons as a ‘deterrent’.
“The Iraqi war launched by the U.S. despite the international community’s unanimous opposition teaches all the sovereign states the lesson that there should be only a strong physical deterrent force to protect the sovereignty of the country and the nation,” the North Korean Central News Agency said yesterday.
The North Koreans have been steadily escalating the tensions with a stream of accusations and provocations. Late last year, it admitted secretly conducting a nuclear-weapons program despite signed agreements to the contrary. Then it threw United Nations inspectors out of the country and said it would restart a nuclear reactor and reprocess spent fuel rods to add to its stockpile of weapons-grade material.
In March, four North Korean MiG warplanes intercepted a U.S. spy plane over international waters in one of the most serious military confrontations between the two countries in decades.
Pyongyang’s latest official statement said it plans to “put all people under arms and turn the whole country into a fortress,” urging North Korean soldiers to become “human bombs and fighters ready to blow up themselves” to fight the Americans.
War propaganda posters are plastered all over Pyongyang showing heroic North Korean soldiers bayoneting American soldiers, blowing up the US Capitol Building and shredding the Stars and Stripes.
What is Pyongyang’s game? Those who fondly imagine that “shock and awe” in Iraq has driven Kim Jong-il to sue for peace may be deluding themselves – and they have not been reading the Pyongyang press. There are signs that North Korea has drawn just the opposite conclusion from recent events.
Thus on 29 March, Rodong Sinmun, the daily of the ruling Korean Workers Party (KWP), said that North Korea “would have already met the same miserable fate as Iraq’s, had it accepted the demand raised by the imperialists for ‘nuclear inspection’ and disarmament.”
Warning that Pyongyang “will not make any slightest concession or compromise”, the paper pledged to increase defense capacity as the country s “number one lifeline”. As Kim Jong Il sees it, the lesson from Iraq is that letting inspectors in will not guarantee regime survival. Having a nuclear deterrent will.
Putting yourself in Kim Jong Il’s tiny little platform shoes for a second, what makes the most sense if the goal is the survival of a regime already labeled a member of the “Axis of Evil” — along with Saddam Hussein? Given what happened to Saddam, it is extremely unlikely that he will surrender his hole cards.
The Bible doesn’t have a lot to say specifically about this region in the last days apart from a cryptic reference in Revelation to the 200 million man army called the “kings of the east” — but only China has the population necessary to amass such an army.
Until a few years ago, the only nuclear state in Asia was China — whose nuclear arsenal is numbered in the dozens, rather than the tens of thousands like the USA or Russia. Then Pakistan developed the Islamic Bomb. Then India developed its own nuclear deterrent. Now we have the deeply paranoid and despotic regime of Kim Jong Il claiming that it is nuclear, and willing to either use or proliferate its weapons.
But while the Bible is fairly circumspect regarding the kings of the east in particular, the concept of a limited nuclear war is not precluded by Scripture.
The prophet Joel writes, “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.”
Psalms 11:6 predicts, “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.”
Isaiah 34:9 says, “And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.”
Ezekiel 38:22 says, “And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”
John describes the first of the trumpet judgements during the Tribulation: “The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” (Revelation 8:7)
What makes these references noteworthy isn’t that they point to North Korea or indicate what will happen on the North Korean peninsula, because they don’t.
What makes them noteworthy is that they all describe the effects of a thermonuclear blast.
Ezekiel speaks of an ‘overflowing rain’. One of the byproducts of a nuclear explosion is nuclear rain formed by the tremendous amount of water that gets vaporized and then reconstitutes in the atmosphere. How did Ezekiel know that?
Or of the ‘great hailstones’ that are also a byproduct of nuclear war, or of the ‘brimstone’ created by the molten rock thrown into the air by a nuclear blast? How would Ezekiel know how to describe ANY kind of explosion, from a nuclear one to an M-80 firecracker from his perch in history, some 2500 years ago?
Or Isaiah’s reference to land of ‘burning pitch’ being created from ‘dust’ or Joel’s references to ‘blood, fire and pillars of smoke’, or the Psalmist’s references to raining ‘snares, fire and brimstone’?
None of this was even conceivable twenty centuries ago. It wasn’t possible even one century ago.
But in 1948, the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic test and kicked off the global nuclear arms race that logic dictates would inevitably result in “blood, fire and pillars of smoke’ somewhere, someday.
The fulfillment of these prophecies were never possible before this generation. More than that, the understanding of how they even COULD be possible was hidden from every generation of mankind except the one that witnessed the restoration of Israel, the recovery of Jerusalem, the development of a global economy, the development of a global government, at a period in history in which the world is embroiled in a great religious war.
Exactly at a time when the world is desperately seeking a global leader — one with a “look more stout than his fellows and a mouth speaking great things” to solve the multiplying global crises, ‘lest we be destroyed from the face of the earth’.
“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:33-34)