It's been an open secret that Iran has been working to obtain nuclear weapons for long enough - but the International Atomic Energy Authority's report last month about its "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme" had added to the pressure.
The problem is that Iran's leadership is driven not just by political ambition but by Shia Islamic "end times" theology. Iran's Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are followers of the Mahdi, or Twelfth Imam. Khamenei claims to have had a personal meeting with the Mahdi and to be his personal representative on earth.
Muhammed ibn Hasan ibn Ali, the Twelfth Imam, disappeared while a young boy hundreds of years ago. Shia Muslims like Khamenei and Ahmadinejad believe he will reappear in the last days, and all the world will then become Muslims. A way to hasten his return will be to destroy Israel and the United States.
Iran was expected to have nuclear weapons before now. Complex viruses planted on their computers, the assassination of nuclear scientists and sabotage at nuclear installations in Iran have delayed, but not ended their efforts. A recent forecast is that Iran could have five nuclear bombs by April, 2012 - four months away.
Respected commentator Joel C. Rosenberg points out that Iran calls Israel "the Little Satan" and the United States "the Great Satan." As long ago as 2005 Ahmadinejad forecast that there would soon be a world without the United States and Zionism.
Israel takes the threat to its security seriously. In recent days the Israelis have been moving weaponry around Israel - presumably in preparation for either a pre-emptive strike against Iran or for defence against a strike by Iran or its proxies. Israeli newspapers have been full of headlines about the threat of war.
The United States is taking the threat to its security not so seriously.
Scientists say the electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear device exploded 100 miles above the United States could disable the US infrastructure, leaving the whole of the US without power, transport, computers, heating, water supply or sanitation. A nuclear missile fired from a ship up to 200 miles off its coastline could affect 70 per cent of the US population.
The Christian will rejoice because he believes he knows who holds the world in His hand. We live, nevertheless, in dangerous days.