Since our ministry's inception, we have monitored ten global, social, political, and economic trends that we feel are significant not only to our nation, but also to the Body of Christ. In Matthew Chapter 16, Jesus spoke to the Jewish religious leaders saying:
When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
As Christians, it is important for us to be able to recognize the signs of the times, or as we like to call them, the "Times of the Signs," because I believe we are living in a very exciting age, about which the Bible has a lot to say if you really take the time to study it diligently. It has been almost two years since our last briefing pack on these trends, so an update is in order. We'll tackle the first two trends this month, and then update the rest in upcoming issues of Personal UPDATE.
Trend # 1 – Weapons Proliferation
The first major "strategic trend" is Weapons Proliferation. The acquisition of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons by both terrorists and rogue nations is perhaps one of the greatest threats to our national security. Modern technology has made it possible for countries and terrorists all over the world to possess frightening military capabilities.
Weapons of mass destruction, from backpack nuclear bombs to biological and chemical weapons, are now available to any nation in the world. It no longer matters whether a nation is rich or poor, large or small, highly industrialized or third world. Almost anyone can make or purchase weapons that 50 years ago could not even be imagined. These new weapons include not only military-style weaponry like nuclear missiles, tanks, aircraft, naval vessels, and the like; but also, inexpensive and readily available biological and chemical weapons. In addition, high-tech equipment like night vision goggles, tracking devices, surveillance cameras, communication innovations, and computerized databases are relatively easy to obtain. The days of the Cold War seem tame by comparison.
In Matthew 24:22 Jesus speaks of the end times saying, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." In the days of the Roman Empire, or even during the Civil War, it would have been difficult to imagine the complete annihilation of Earth's population using swords, bayonets, or even pistols. But today, weapons technology exists that could very conceivably wipe out the entire planet. The Bible very clearly predicts the use of weapons of mass destruction, seen in this passage, as well as in Ezekiel 38 and 39 and elsewhere.
Today U.S. intelligence officials have focused their attention on Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Pakistan, and North Korea in their attempts to stifle weapons proliferation. They have also kept a close watch on Russia and China, which are key suppliers of technology, components, and weaponry. Although these countries remain the focus of U.S. intelligence investigations, some Western European countries have also been important sources for the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Iran has continued to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce weapons of mass destruction — nuclear, chemical, and biological — and their delivery systems, as well as advanced conventional weapons. To this end, Iran has sought foreign materials, training, equipment, and know-how. Its main suppliers are entities in Russia, China, North Korea, and Europe.
The United States intelligence community remains convinced that Tehran has been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, in violation of its obligations as a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. To bolster its efforts to establish domestic nuclear fuel-cycle capabilities, Iran sought technology that can support fissile material production for a nuclear weapons program. Iran tried to use its civilian nuclear energy program to justify its efforts to acquire assorted nuclear fuel-cycle capabilities.
In August 2002 an Iranian opposition group disclosed that Iran was secretly building a heavy water production plant and a "nuclear fuel" plant. Press reports later in the year confirmed the existence of these two facilities using commercial imagery and clarified that the "fuel" plant was most likely a large uranium centrifuge enrichment facility. Ballistic missile-related cooperation from entities in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and China over the years has helped Iran move toward its goal of becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles.
Such assistance during the first half of 2003 continued to include equipment, technology, and expertise. Iran's ballistic missile inventory is among the largest in the Middle East and includes some 1,300-km medium-range ballistic missiles and a few hundred short-range ballistic missiles as well as a variety of large, unguided rockets. Iran has openly admitted its possession and production of various types of scud missiles and is pursuing longer-range ballistic missiles.
In December 2002 North Korea announced its intention to resume operation of its nuclear facilities, which had been frozen under the terms of the 1994 U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework. IAEA weapons inspection seals and monitoring equipment were removed and disabled, and IAEA inspectors were expelled from the country. The next month North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and by late February 2003 North Korea resumed use of a reactor capable of producing spent fuel rods containing plutonium.
In April 2003 North Korea told U.S. officials that it possessed nuclear weapons, and signaled its intent to reprocess the 1994 canned spent fuel for more nuclear weapons. On June 9, North Korea openly threatened to build a nuclear deterrent force. North Korea also has continued procurement of raw materials and components for its extensive ballistic missile programs from various foreign sources. North Korea is nearly self-sufficient in developing and producing ballistic missiles and has demonstrated a willingness to sell complete systems and components that have enabled other states to acquire longer-range capabilities earlier than would otherwise have been possible and to acquire the basis for domestic development efforts.
Their chemical warfare capabilities include the ability to produce bulk quantities of nerve, blister, choking and blood agents, using its sizeable, although aging, chemical industry. They possess a stockpile of unknown size of these agents and weapons, which they could employ in a variety of delivery means.
By mid-2003, North Korea was believed to have possessed a munitions production infrastructure that would allow it to weaponize biological weapons agents, and may have had such weapons available for use. North Korea also operates as a major supplier, exporting significant ballistic missile-related equipment, components, materials, and technical expertise to the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa. Exports of ballistic missiles and related technology were one of the North's major sources of hard currency, which supported ongoing missile development and production. Furthermore, in late April 2003 during the Beijing talks, North Korea privately threatened to export nuclear weapons, attempting to try to leverage its nuclear programs into international legitimacy and bargaining power.
Libya's weapons program made headline news when American and British intelligence identified a shipment of advanced centrifuge parts manufactured at a Malaysian facility bound for Libya. Intelligence officers followed the shipment and watched as they were transferred to the BBC China, a German-owned ship. After the ship passed through the Suez Canal, it was stopped by German and Italian authorities. They found several containers, each forty feet in length, listed on the ship's manifest as full of "used machine parts" when, in fact, these containers were filled with parts for sophisticated centrifuges.
The interception of the BBC China came as Libyan, British and American officials were discussing the possibility of Libya ending its Weapons of Mass Destruction programs. The United States and Britain confronted Libyan officials with this evidence of an active and illegal nuclear program. Following which, Libya's leader voluntarily agreed to end his nuclear and chemical weapons programs, not to pursue biological weapons, and to permit thorough inspections. But it remains to be seen if this promise will be kept.
Syria has, over the last year, continued its efforts to update its ballistic and scud missile capabilities. Damascus already possesses a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin and has tried to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents. Syria remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its chemical weapons program, including precursor chemicals and key production equipment. It is highly probable that Syria also continues to develop an offensive biological weapons capability.
Syria has continued to acquire limited quantities of Advanced Conventional Weapons, mainly from Russia. Damascus's Soviet-era debt to Moscow and its inability to fund large purchases continue to hamper efforts to purchase the large quantity of equipment Syria requires to replace its aging weapons inventory.
During the first half of 2003, Russia's cash-strapped defense, biotechnology, chemical, aerospace, and nuclear industries continued to be eager to raise funds via exports and transfers. Some Russian universities and scientific institutes also showed a willingness to earn much-needed funds by providing WMD or missile-related teaching and training for foreign students. Russia remains a key exporter of both materials and expertise for ballistic, chemical, biological, and advanced conventional weapons. Loose enforcement of export controls has made it difficult to reduce the outward flow of weapons technology.
Although China has improved somewhat on its nonproliferation stance, it is still a major exporter of weapons materials and technology, much of which was purchased from the United States during the Clinton administration. China remains a primary supplier of advanced conventional weapons to Pakistan and Iran, and they have given support to Iran's chemical weapons program and have provided assistance to Libya and North Korea.
At El-Solayil in Saudi Arabia, 40,000 Chinese technicians have installed 120 CSS-2 missiles, which have a range of 1500 kilometers and can now reach Greece to the west and India to the east (see map below). By having funded Pakistan's nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has access to the necessary warheads to provide three nuclear warheads each and now represent a formidable nuclear threat in the region (as we reported in our Briefing Pack, Roots of War, two years ago).
There are some experts that anticipate that Israel may take these out preemptively just as they did with Iraq's nuclear facility at Osirak in 1981.
Many Middle Eastern countries desire to obtain weapons of mass destruction as a response to Israel's nuclear weapons program. Israel has reportedly adapted U.S.-built cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads aboard its fleet of submarines, which could seriously hinder international efforts to shake Iran from its alleged nuclear weapons ambitions. Israel's development of its nuclear arsenal has only increased the motivation of Arab states to possess like weapons.
The threat of terrorists using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials remains high. Many of the 33 designated foreign terrorist organizations and other non-state entities worldwide have expressed interest in chemical and biological weapons.
Although terrorist groups probably will continue to favor long-proven conventional tactics such as bombings and shootings, the arrest of terrorists plotting to use ricin in London in January 2003 is an indication that international terrorists are actively planning to conduct chemical and biological attacks. Increased publicity surrounding the anthrax incidents since the September 11, 2001, has highlighted the vulnerability of civilian and government targets. Documents and equipment recovered from Al-Qaida facilities in Afghanistan show that Bin Ladin had a more sophisticated unconventional weapons research program than was previously known.
Trend # 2 – The Rise of Islam
The Muslim faith is becoming an increasingly volatile catalyst in today's international scene and the Rise of Islam is the second strategic trend we are going to explore. With the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, it has become of paramount importance to understand the origin, nature, and agenda of Islam.
If you want more background information, I encourage you to check out several of the resources we have available. We have several briefing packs on the subject of Islam, The Sword of Allah, Legacy of Hate and Jihad in America , as well as a fascinating new briefing called Sleeping in America by Avi Lipkin, a Jewish lecturer and longtime friend of this ministry.
Although there are many peace-loving Muslims, study of the Islamic religion will reveal that true Islam is anything but a peaceful religion. Islam demands the utter destruction of all Jews, Christians, and anyone who refuses to convert to the Islamic faith. It is a warrior code that demands that Muslims live and die by the sword. This perspective can be confirmed by examining three areas: their sacred writings, exemplified by the Qur'an; a review of their history of conquest and cultural imperialism; and, an inspection of the Islamic countries and their propagating a legacy of hate and repression on their various subjugated populations.
The truth about Islam is exactly the opposite of what you will hear on the news. Most Americans believe that Islam is a religion of peace and that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. In public schools we teach our children a doctrine of tolerance, and in some schools students are even required to memorize passages of the Qur'an. While in comparison Islamic children are taught that America is the Infidel. We are the enemy. When the towers came crashing down on September 11, 2001 and thousands of innocent people were killed, Muslims all over the world danced in the streets and praised the hijackers.
Islamic terrorists are referred to in the West as radicals and extremists, while in the Mid-East they are heralded by fundamentalists as martyrs and heroes, and the families of suicide bombers are rewarded monetary pensions. The disparity between the two perspectives is staggering, yet Americans do not seem to understand the truth about Islam.
In Post-Saddam Iraq
Today post-Saddam Iraq has become the battlefield between two opposing religious and political worldviews. There appears to be a consensus among Iraqi and American leaders that Iraq should become a democracy. However, it is not clear whether both sides define "democracy" the same way. While the Iraqis, emerging from dictatorial rule, may understand democracy to mean primarily the ability to select leaders who will be accountable to the people, the United States undoubtedly understands democracy also to mean the protection of civil rights.
If the people of Iraq democratically elect a government that disregards many essential human rights, Iraq may grow to look like any other struggling Islamic state. Many women's groups and minorities in Iraq grow increasingly concerned as Iraqi religious leaders continue to push for Islamic Law to shape a future constitution. The interim government has approved a temporary constitution, and in June the U.S. is planning to hand over full control to Iraqis, but Iraq is not scheduled to hold direct elections or draft a permanent constitution until next year. If religious and political leaders have their way, the door to sharing the Gospel in Iraq could once again be shut.
Muslims leaders have attempted to exert control in other parts of the world as well. For example, last year in Malaysia the Malaysian Islamic Political Party unveiled its plans for the establishment of an Islamic state in which both Muslims and non-Muslims would be subject to Islamic law. The Malaysian Islamic Party already controls two of Malaysia's 13 states, in which they have already implemented numerous Islamic laws.
Next month we'll continue our update of the ten strategic trends. If you don't want to wait that long, get our featured briefing package this month, Strategic Trends ‘04.
* * *