US foreign policy challenges: Iran
NICOSIA // The final televised debate between Mr Obama and Mr Romney last month confirmed that Iran’s nuclear programme will likely be the next US president’s top foreign policy challenge.
Iran was mentioned 47 times, more than any other country. Whoever wins the White House may face the momentous decision of whether to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
It is a prospect neither candidate relishes. Both agree military action must be a “last resort”, and that sanctions and diplomacy be given a chance to resolve the standoff. But there is visceral mistrust between Tehran and Washington, and neither candidate has said what sort of deal he would offer Iran to coax it into curbing its nuclear programme.
Nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers, including the US, are due to resume in the next few weeks.
Looking on impatiently, of course, will be Israel. Mr Obama and Mr Romney have pledged to defend Israel, although neither has said what he would do if Israel strikes Iran.
Iran sees little difference between the two men. The Fars news agency, affiliated to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, asked: “Will it be more of the fist inside the velvet glove, or the hammer directly to the skull?”
Updated: November 4, 2012 04:00 AM