After months of fruitless efforts by the international community to employ diplomacy to avert the threat of a nuclear Iran, Tehran has made it perfectly clear that it is not interested in making a deal.
Despite reaching a tentative agreement with negotiators, top officials in Iran have indicated that they reject the proposal to ship the country's low-enriched uranium abroad to prepare it for medical purposes.
In its most strident move yet to thumb its nose at those seeking diplomacy, Iran this week staged what it called its biggest air-defense drill ever, aimed at protecting its nuclear sites from possible attack. The five-day drill came accompanied by this warning from the Revolutionary Guard: "If the enemy tries its luck and fires a missile into Iran, our ballistic missiles would zero in on Tel Aviv before the dust settles on the attack."
Israel, becoming increasingly impatient as the threat from Iran intensifies, long ago jettisoned its reticence to speak publicly of the need for a coordinated global response.
"It is clear that this is now the time for the international community to act and send a crystal-clear message to Tehran that there are consequences for its actions," a senior Israeli official was quoted saying this week.
Now the Obama administration must muster all its resources to push forward with an international plan for economic sanctions that hopefully will move the Iranians in a way that diplomacy hasn't.
President Barack Obama said last week that within the next few weeks, the United States and other world powers would be formulating new sanctions on Iran.
"They have been unable to get to 'yes,' and so as a consequence, we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences," Obama said last week at a news conference in South Korea.
He has gone the extra mile in fulfilling his campaign pledge to try the diplomacy approach first, which countries like Russia and China were demanding.
Last week, representatives of China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany met with the United States in Brussels, and once again urged Iran to reconsider the enriched uranium proposal.
But the time for prodding and coercing is over. The time has come for action.
We don't yet know whether economic sanctions will do the trick and reverse Iran's march toward nuclear arms. But we need to find out soon. Otherwise, the next option that no one wants to take off the table -- the military one -- may end up being the only option.