William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






IRAN SPEAKS – AT 10:32 A.M. ET:  Iran, its nuclear program, and its influence throughout its region, will be the most pressing foreign-policy problem that Obama will immediately face.  The Iranians are aware of that.  They are making plain their views.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's vice president said Monday that Tehran will break the `grasping hands' of newly re-elected President Barack Obama, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Mohammad Reza Rahimi also said Iran will overcome U.S.-led sanctions against the country.

"We will break grasping hands of Obama and we will be successful in bypassing the sanctions," Rahimi was quoted as saying during a research and scientific exhibition at Tehran University.

Iranian officials dismiss the impact of last week's U.S. elections, suggesting it will have little impact on Washington's Iran policy. On Thursday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad mocked the cost of campaigning, dubbing the vote a "battleground for capitalists"

Rahimi is known for hardline anti-Western statements. In June, he blamed global drug use on the teachings of Jewish holy texts.

The sanctions have hit Iran's economy hard in the past months. They are imposed over Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at weapons development. Iran denies the charge, saying its program is for peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.

Ahmadinejad and allies like Rahimi are anxious to play up Iran's confrontation with the West. Conservatives who used to back him, but who turned against him last year over his perceived challenge to the clerical establishment, say he has mismanaged the economy and contributed to the country's woes.

COMMENT:  There is buzz in Washington, some of it disturbing, that Obama may offer Iran a "grand bargain" to reduce its nuclear program and place it under tighter international inspection.  I think we have a right to be dubious about Iran's agreeing to any real nuclear reduction.  We've been negotiating with them for years, with no result. 

There were also credible news reports, over the weekend, that Israel has had to change its military approach to any possible attack on Iran's nuclear program because some of the most critical facilities are more hardened, and deeper underground, than previously thought.

We talk.  They build.  We lose.

November 12, 2012