(Washington, D.C.) — Even as Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with President Obama in Washington, Russian President Vladimir Putin is suddenly signaling a major new international move that could shift the focus off of Iran’s nuclear threat and place enormous international focus and pressure on the State of Israel to disclose and dismantle its own strategic weapons.
“Russia wants to revive plans for a conference on ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction now that Syria has pledged to abandon its chemical arms, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments published on Monday,” Reuters reported on Monday.
“Such a move could put Moscow at odds with Washington which announced the conference would be delayed last year,” notes Reusters. “Analysts said it feared the event would be used to criticize its ally Israel, believed to be the region’s only nuclear-armed state.”
“Russia has been pushing to extend its influence in the Middle East. It initiated a UN deal to get Syria to abandon its chemical arms after Washington threatened military strikes to punish Damascus for a sarin gas attack on rebel areas,” notes Reuters.
“We will seek to have this conference take place,” Lavrov said.
This is a striking development, coming as it does on the heels of the Russian gambit that prevented a U.S. military intervention in Syria and ostensibly a deal with Bashar al-Assad to disclose and destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.
It’s also a scenario ripped from the pages of The Ezekiel Option. In the novel, the Russian President calls for an international coalition to force Israel to disclose and dismantle her WMDs, or face an invasion not unlike the invasion of Iraq in 2003. [See excerpts from the novel below.]
Is this what we are about to see play out in real life? A similar international effort was set into motion in May 2010, but then ran aground. At the time, however, Russia was not in the lead. Other countries were. Now, the Kremlin seems to be ready to lead the initiative.
Israel is already increasingly isolated from the international community. The “charm offensive” by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been dazzlingly successful in shifting the debate and putting Israel on the defensive. The likelihood of an Israeli first strike on Iran appears to have receded significantly if President Obama is eager to engage in diplomacy with Tehran and pressures Israel to hold off on an attack.
And as amazing as it is to say it, the events of this week could theoretically set into motion the fulfillment of the End Times Bible prophecies found in Ezekiel 38-39 — i.e, the “War of Gog and Magog” — if the leader of Russia begins to emerge as the leader of the anti-Israel coalition and requires Israel to comply with the treaty or face an international military coalition prepared to force her to comply.
Meanwhile, “Vladimir Putin has accepted an Iranian invitation to visit the country and meet with newly elected President Hasan Rouhani, a spokesman for the Russian president confirmed,” reports the Times of Israel. “Putin has been invited to Iran, and he will certainly take advantage of this kind invitation,” the Interfax news agency quoted spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Friday. “The dates of the visit will be agreed upon through diplomatic channels.”
This will be the second time Putin has traveled to Iran. The first was a two day trip on October 16-17, 2007
EXCERPTS FROM THE EZEKIEL OPTION (published by Tyndale House, copyright 2005)
Russian President Yuri Gogolov rose to speak.
“Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished delegates, and ladies and gentlemen: As we gather together on September eleventh, the anniversary of the attacks upon this great city, let me begin by assuring all Americans—and reassuring each of you—that the Russian Federation is fully committed to being a member in good standing of this global community and to helping the world win the war on terror once and for all.”
The General Assembly erupted in thunderous applause.
Bennett watched the speech in his West Wing office.
Joining him were Indira Rajiv of the CIA’s NAMESTAN desk and Ken Costello, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs. Bennett had invited them both to help him analyze the Gogolov speech and European and Islamic reaction to it.
“Many are the pressing issues that confront us,” Gogolov continued.
His pace was measured, confident; his proficiency with using a teleprompter rather intriguing given that this was his first international address.
“Some are regional. Some are economic, cultural, or social. But I believe we can all agree that the most pressing issue of our time is ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction and keeping them out of the hands of terrorists.”
“Regretfully, some would seek to divide the great powers. Some would seek to pit the United States against Russia on the great issues of our time, but they must not be allowed to succeed. Yes, we have our differences. Yes, the debate over whether the United States should have gone to war against Iraq was one of them. And yes, there is much work to do to repair relations strained so badly by the unfortunate U.S. response to the perceived threat of Aeroflot flight 6617.
“But let there be no confusion: the Russian Federation never disagreed with the objective of the United States to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. To the contrary, we have always shared the vision of making the Middle East a nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons-free zone.
“Perhaps it is time to concede that regardless of our differences, the world is much safer now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power and can no longer threaten the peace.”
The great hall was silent for a moment. The delegates were too stunned to know how to react.
“Today, however, I would submit that another Middle Eastern country is known to possess weapons of mass destruction. She operates in defiance of multiple U.N. resolutions. She has repeatedly attacked and invaded her neighbors. She has repeatedly violated the human rights of the people entrusted to her care. And she is widely seen as a threat not only to regional peace but to world peace. Regretfully, of course, I speak of the modern State of Israel.”
The General Assembly of the U.N. had never been so utterly silent.
“We must be honest. Only one country in the Middle East refuses to become a signatory to the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—the State of Israel.
“Moreover, only one country in the Middle East is known to actually possess nuclear warheads—the State of Israel. They are not dreaming of them, designing them, or developing them. Israel has already deployed nearly three hundred nuclear warheads.
“Which begs the question: if the United States was able to persuade this body that Saddam Hussein was a threat worthy of international action, how can we allow a double standard for Israel?
“Some will argue that India, Pakistan, and Cuba have not joined the NPT either. They are right, and this is a great concern of mine. I am determined we can make tremendous progress in these areas if we work together. Indeed, we have already done so.
“I have the great privilege of announcing to you that over the past few days I have been in talks with the Cuban government. I have been able to convince Havana to drop her long-standing concerns, and for the good of the global community and in the interests of world peace, I can now announce that the esteemed president of Cuba will join me immediately following this speech to officially become the NPT’s 188th signatory.”
The General Assembly exploded with a standing ovation.
“And this is just the beginning,” Gogolov continued, raising his hands and asking for everyone to please retake their seats. “I am also pleased to announce that the presidents of India and Pakistan have agreed to a summit in Moscow in January. Together, we will discuss a de-escalation of tensions between the two countries. And it is my personal mission to persuade both India and Pakistan to become members of the global community of NPT signatories within the next twelve to eighteen months.”
This brought the house down—another standing ovation, which lasted for almost four minutes.
And now the Russian shifted gears. “Which brings us back to Israel—a rich country; a powerful country with a strong army, an impressive air force, and the strength of the American superpower at her side. With all these assets, I ask you: why should such a country refuse to sign a treaty aimed solely at making the world a more peaceful and prosperous place for all mankind?
“When the United States went to war in Iraq, she did so, in part, because the regime of Saddam Hussein had defied sixteen U.N. Security Council resolutions. What, then, shall we say of Israel, which has defied ninety-seven such resolutions since 1948?”
Gogolov moved in for the kill.
“Israel has answered decades of U.N. demands with decades of defiance. Are these resolutions to be enforced, or cast aside without consequence?
“Russia helped to give birth to the United Nations. We want the resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by Israel.
“If the Israeli regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally foreswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material. Further, the Israeli regime must immediately allow IAEA and U.N. inspectors into its nuclear reactor at Dimona as well as all other nuclear, chemical, and biological research facilities.
“Toward this end, this afternoon Russia will introduce U.N. Security Council Resolution 2441, giving the State of Israel thirty days to comply with the steps I have just outlined. If Israel does comply fully, a new era of peace and prosperity will sweep the region, and the world will be more secure.
“But let there be no doubt: if Israel continues to go down the road of defiance, the international community will have no choice but to join together to enforce the U.N. resolutions related to Israel, just as the United States and her allies enforced the U.N. resolutions related to Iraq.”
Bennett watched as Gogolov left the platform.
For a moment an awkward silence filled the great hall, but then the General Assembly erupted in a standing ovation that went on minute after minute. Nearly all the delegates were on their feet, applauding wildly. Then the camera caught the Israeli ambassador storming up the center aisle. As he exited, the view switched to the U.S. ambassador, who sat in stunned disbelief.
Bennett, too, sat motionless. The gauntlet had just been laid down, and Bennett was in shock….