Meanwhile the EU is attempting to negotiate Iran away from its nuclear ambitions through a generous package of economic benefits—which that struggling nation needs desperately. For the time being, the U.S. and the EU appear to be working together to try to resolve the situation through diplomatic channels. But the U.S. administration refuses to rule out the option of taking military action to prevent Iran from joining the nuclear club.
Would Americans back their president if Mr. Bush declared a need to go to war to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons? No one knows with certainty. He would have a hard sell without clear and irrefutable prove that it was necessary to do so, but he has sternly warned the U.S. will never allow Iran to go nuclear.
A wild card in this game of nuclear brinksmanship is the possibility that Israel could act preemptively as it did in Iraq by bombing that country's Osirak reactor before it went "hot" in 1981. There are shadowy rumors that the U.S. might turn a blind eye if Israel acted or even "unofficially" encourage it to do so.
For its part, Iran claims that its nuclear development program is entirely its private business because it intends only to generate electricity through nuclear power. But that claim fails to explain why a nation with over 10 percent of the world's oil reserves has such a desperate need for an alternative power supply.
This inadequate claim—because the paths to nuclear power generation and nuclear weaponry development are identical—makes it next to impossible to take the Iranian government's word at face value. By reserving the right to take military action if necessary, it appears that the U.S. wants to keep the Iranians off guard by vague comments that there are no plans to attack Iran but at the same time warning that "all options are on the table."
Concurrent with its work on a nuclear reactor, Iran's aerospace industry has been perfecting a missile that could deliver payloads throughout the Middle East and beyond. Their principal weapon is the Shahab-3 ("Shahab" means, "shooting star" in Farsi; some spell it, "Shihab"). As recently as a year ago, any threat from this highly inaccurate "flying aluminum tube" was minimal. Even if it could have targeted someplace in Iraq or Israel, it would have had to bombard an entire city in the hopes of striking a military target. The political ramifications of destroying a large population center rendered its use unlikely.
But Iran's current nuclear delivery system is vastly improved. An American GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) system sold with the approval of the Clinton Administration to the Chinese Air Force in the mid-1990s "found its way" to Iran and is now guiding their ICBMs with a high degree of accuracy.
Additionally, Iran has benefited significantly from North Korean know-how, both in nuclear and missile technology. Today Iranian missiles could conceivably strike Israeli military bases or American bases in Iraq, Qatar and elsewhere in the region. Their longest-range weapons are now capable of hitting targets even in London and throughout Europe.
Iran was a strategic hazard before, when it's only weapons were its oil production and its control of the Persian Gulf sea-lanes through the Straits of Hormuz. Now, however, on the brink of going nuclear with a workable delivery system, Iran is a very real threat to the world and a close ally of a confrontational North Korea and an unpredictable China.
The apostle Paul wrote, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come" (2 Timothy 3:1 2 Timothy 3:1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
American King James Version×). That is clearly the state of the world today. Dedicated statesmen from most nations are working feverishly to avoid an unexpected provocation from igniting a global nuclear conflict.
But at some point a worldwide conflict will be ignited. Jesus Christ warned that just prior to His second coming "... there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again" (Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×, NIV). So destructive will that conflict be that He said, "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened" (verse 22, compare Daniel 12:1-3 Daniel 12:1-3  And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
American King James Version×).