Top of the Agenda: Global Powers Agree to Iran Talks
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany agreed to resume talks with Iran over its nuclear program (NYT), EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday. Ashton's announcement came in response to an Iranian offer last month to restart nuclear negotiations, amid rising tensions between the West and Tehran. The United States and the EU, both of which contend Iran's nuclear program is intended for manufacturing weapons, have imposed strict economic sanctions on the country. The decision to press forward with diplomacy came as U.S. President Barack Obama urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off from carrying out a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
"In the context of improving global growth, removing too much Iranian oil from the world's energy supply could cause an oil price rise that would halt the recovery even as it does some economic damage to Iran. For perhaps the first time, sanctions have the potential to be 'too successful,' hurting the sanctioners as much as the sanctioned," write Ian Bremmer and Clifford Kupchan for the Financial Times.
"The dispute with Israel is chiefly over timing and when, exactly, Iran will be deemed to have crossed the red line: is the crucial moment when Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear weapon or when it has actually done so? The danger is that this public negotiation unleashes a dynamic of its own," writes the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland.
"Every Israeli and friend of Israel should be thankful to the president for framing the Iran issue this way. It is important strategically for Israel, because it makes clear that dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat was not Israel's problem alone. And it is important politically, because this decision about whether to attack Iran is coinciding with the U.S. election," writes the New York Times' Thomas Friedman.
South Korea Threatens Retaliation
South Korea would launch a forceful retaliation against North Korea in the event of an anticipated military provocation (Yonhap), South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said in a visit to Yeonpyeong Island, the site of a deadly North Korean artillery attack in 2010.
INDIA: Police arrested an Indian journalist (AP) who was allegedly in contact with a suspect believed to have attached a car bomb to an Israeli diplomat's car in New Delhi last month. The subsequent explosion wounded the diplomat's wife and her driver.
SEYCHELLES: The U.S. Navy transferred fifteen suspected Somali pirates (NYT) from their custody in Djibouti to the island nation of Seychelles for trial. The Navy had captured the pirates after rescuing a hijacked Iranian fishing vessel in January.
Under President Raul Castro, Cuba has begun economic and political reforms while bolstering ties with Brazil and the Vatican. But Washington has failed to seize on opportunities for expanding relations, says CFR's Julia E. Sweig in this CFR Interview.
Exit Polls Show Voters' Concern About the Economy
Exit polls from Super Tuesday show the economy is the biggest issue on voters' minds with the election a little more than seven months away. In general election battleground states such as Virginia and Ohio, where GOP candidate Mitt Romney won last night, about half of voters polled by CNN said the economy it was their biggest concern. The New York Times' polling found similar results in four states--Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, and Massachusetts.
In a speech last night, Romney said jobs would be his highest priority (WashPost) and his economic plan would "deliver more jobs, less debt, and smaller government." A new paper from the Brookings Institution looking at what the president should do about the economy after the election in 2013 says that if the economy remains weak, more stimulus for jobs and the housing market will be needed.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.