No one should be shocked by the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has been conducting experiments "specific to nuclear weapons" and that the watchdog agency has "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."
The latest and long-awaited report, issued this week, provides the clearest indication yet about Iran's nuclear intentions -- and its perennial attempts to hide the truth about the extent of its illicit program.
Anyone who professes shock either hasn't been paying attention or has chosen to deliberately ignore all the telltale signs emanating from Tehran over the past several years.
World leaders, including President Barack Obama, have long claimed they would not countenance Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and that "all options are on the table," including a military one.
The international community has passed four U.N. Security Council resolutions and a series of economic sanctions in an effort to pressure the Iranian government. But Tehran has snubbed such actions and threats, wagering that there's more bark than bite to the world's approbation, particularly when it comes to the possibility of a military strike.
Israeli officials, in recent weeks, once again debated the need to act alone, given that the Jewish state could be most threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran and its terrorist proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah. It's not clear whether the talk of a unilateral military strike was intended to pressure the recalcitrant nations, namely China and Russia, who have until now opposed stronger sanctions.
What is clear is that despite some temporary setbacks, including last year's Stuxnet computer worm that was a brilliant high-tech effort to derail the program, Iran has pressed on. It now has "sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device," using highly enriched uranium.
With this latest IAEA report, no one can doubt the potential dangers from Iran, especially in this era of an uncertain Arab winter, when Tehran's influence in the Middle East is waning amid the chaos, and an unpredictable leadership would be likely trying to fortify itself with nuclear weapons.
It is now up to Obama and other world leaders to ratchet up the pressure against Iran, including limiting the rogue nation's trade opportunities by sanctioning its central bank.
It's late in the game, and the time has come to pull out all the stops to avert military action, an option that may still be on the table but one that no one wants to see happen.