William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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IRAN FOLLOW-UP – AT 8:34 A.M. ET:  We noted yesterday that "new" (yawn) attempts to get Iran to budge on its nuclear program were apparently going nowhere.  Now we have confirmation.

(Reuters) - U.N. nuclear inspectors returned from Iran on Friday without securing an agreement to investigate suspected atom bomb research, they said after two days of talks in Tehran.

Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said his inspectors had not been granted the access they have long sought to a military site and that further talks had been scheduled for February 12.

The absence of a breakthrough was a new setback for diplomatic efforts to allay international concerns over Tehran's atomic ambitions and avert the threat of a new Middle East war.

The IAEA, whose mission is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, has been trying for a year to negotiate a so-called structured approach with Iran giving the inspectors access to sites, officials and documents for their long-stalled inquiry.

At the centre of its concerns, the IAEA wants access to the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran where it believes explosives tests relevant for nuclear weapons development may have taken place, something Iran denies.

COMMENT:  I know we're all moved to learn that a new meeting is scheduled for February 12th.  The whole procedure is a farce.

Why should Iran give up anything when they have an American president who's just appointed a national-security team that has shown more contempt for America and its allies than for America's enemies? 

We are approaching a moment of critical decision in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program – whether to go further than sanctions that have produced no halt in Iran's drive toward the bomb.  I fear the decision has already been made, and it will not be good for our children's future.

January 18,  2013