UPDATED AT 6:00PM EASTERN, FRIDAY: The genocidal plans of the Iranian regime were made crystal clear today. “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a prayer service on Friday at Tehran University.
No wonder Washington, foreign capitals, and the media are suddenly abuzz this week with rumors of impending war between Israel and Iran. Top U.S. officials are also warning that the “calculus” in Tehran has changed and the Iranian regime is now more willing to launch or support terrorist attacks on American soil than they were in the past. Israeli facilities in North America and around the world are now on high alert from possible terrorist attacks.
But it’s more than just the Ayatollah’s apocalyptic, genocidal rantings that have people’s attention. Senior U.S. and Israeli officials are speaking with rare candor about the growing possibility of Israeli airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. A major New York Times Sunday magazine story this week indicates the Israelis are readying to hit Iran in 2012. A Washington Post story now reports that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes the Israelis are considering massive airstrikes against Iran as early as April, May or June of this year. At Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany this morning, Panetta wouldn’t back away from the Post report, effectively confirming the story. Since October, the administration has been pressuring Israel not to even consider such strikes. The fact that Panetta is talking openly about an Israeli first strike suggests the White House is deeply worried the epicenter is about to be engulfed in war and are preparing the nation — and the world — for such eventualities. [UPDATE: U.S., Israel reportedly split over strike timing]
- UPDATES: Iran developing missile to reach the United States
- Ahmadinejad calls for a new world order
- Khamenei threatens U.S.
- U.S. fears Iran’s links to al-Qaeda
- Iran warns world of coming great event; Says ‘evil hegemony’ soon will be defeated by power of Allah
Is the handwriting on the wall? Is war imminent? I believe the concerns are very valid and that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are, in fact, finalizing their war plans and their civil defense preparations. They may not have made a final decision, but they see the U.S. or international community moving too slowly and indecisively. They fear Iran will have operable nuclear weapons by the end of the year, and even though Iran may not yet be able to attach those to high-speed ballistic missiles — yet being the operative word — they fear a second Holocaust if they don’t act soon.
That said, not everyone is convinced an Israeli-Iranian war will break out in 2012. This week, I had a long lunch with former CIA Director Porter Goss. We discussed the rising tensions in the epicenter, where they might lead, and the Shia End Times theology driving the current regime in Tehran. Goss and I first met several years ago when I was doing research on Mideast issues. I was surprised but intrigued to learn that he had read Epicenter several times and had become curious about Bible prophecy and its relevance to current events. He recently read The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative. We had a great conversation covering a wide range of issues and I wish you could have been with me. While he and I don’t see completely eye to eye on every issue (one might be on how fast events are moving), I deeply respect his wisdom, experience and analysis and wanted to share his vantage point and his insights with you.
Q: How do you assess the likelihood of war between Israel and Iran in 2012?
GOSS: The regime in Tehran has already declared they want to push Israel into the sea. Most observers agree that present Iranian leadership lacks the capability, but not the intent to destroy Israel. Despite the open hostility and the behind-the-scenes maneuvers being conducted by both sides, I believe it unlikely open warfare will break out in 2012. I would look for increasing provocation, more intense covert action, extended psychological warfare and heightened international attention about nuclear proliferation.
Q: How serious a threat do you regard a nuclear-armed Iran to U.S. national security, aside from Israeli security?
GOSS: I rate a nuclear weapon capability in the hands of the present Iranian regime in the top four or five national security concerns of the United States. Principally, providing radical extremist terrorists and state-sponsored terrorist organizations like Hezbollah access to weapons of mass destruction constitutes a clear and present danger. It is a game-changer for our country which we will have to address forcefully and timely. Secondly, opening the gateway to nuclear proliferation follows on the heels of a Persian nuke. Other countries in a region already seething with instability and despair will look to their own safety by acquiring nukes; continuing U.S. hesitation to forcefully address the Iranian situation will be a boon to illegal proliferation activity.
Q: Given all you know about the Iranian regime, do you believe they could be effectively contained, or deterred from using a nuclear weapon? And how much do you worry about the Shia eschatology espoused by Khamenei and Ahmadinejad?
GOSS: The critical question for Israel – and the United States – is the rationality of the current regime in Iran. Is their misplaced radicalism so great that they will accept certain destruction if they first strike with the Persian nuke? Notwithstanding the passionate and hateful rhetoric of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, the Assembly of Experts and others, I assess they would probably use the nuclear capability for bargaining leverage rather than first strike, at least for the near future. Khamenei’s actions seem to add up to self-survival rather than martyrdom by nuclear vaporization. That makes me think he rationally utilizes “irrationality” as a useful negotiating weapon. The references to the Twelfth Imam fit nicely into the regime’s pattern of keeping Iran watchers off balance. Khamenei is deadly serious about maintaining power on earth. Hopefully, Ahmadinejad does not realize he is expendable before he is expended . Otherwise, he might be tempted by martyrdom.
Q: Thanks, Porter. I really appreciate your insights. God bless you.
When asked about the signs of His return, Jesus told His disciples, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars.” (Matthew 24:6) Let us be praying — even fasting — now for the peace of Jerusalem at this critical time. Please pray for our President, for PM Netanyahu, and for all the leaders of the Middle East for wisdom and discernment. Pray for the believers in the region to be faithful and bold in serving Jesus Christ as war approaches. And please pray for The Joshua Fund team as we seek to be ready and prepared for whatever comes.
- Help Christians bless needy Israelis now and be ready for a possible major new war in the epicenter — please consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund.
- Implosion is now available for pre-order at Amazon…and at Barnes & Noble.
- The Tehran Initiative is available in hardcover or e-book
- Follow the “Epicenter Team” on Facebook with the latest news from the Middle East along with prayer requests.
- Sign up for Joel’s (free) email updates called “Flash Traffic”
RESOURCES ON ISRAEL, IRAN AND BIBLE PROPHECY
- Study notes on the Book of Joel — Israel, Prophecy and the “Day of the Lord”
- Online video messages on the Old Testament Book of Joel from the 2011 Epicenter Conference
- Study notes on Ezekiel 38-39 — What Is The War of Gog and Magog?
- Online video message on “America In A Troubled World: What Does The Future Hold,” looking at several prophecies, including Luke 12:54 -56 and Ezekiel 38-39 at the “Inside the Middle East Conference” at the Moody Bible Church
- Audio of Joel’s message on how God is shaking the nations (from the Book of Haggai, chapter 2) at King of Kings church in Jerusalem (given in June 2011)