The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the visit by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Iran; Florida’s GOP primary on January 31; and the continuing Supreme Court case in Pakistan involving President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
- The world will be watching what happens when IAEA inspectors arrive in Iran and listening to what they say after they depart. Tehran hopes the visit will defuse the rising pressure it is feeling internationally over its nuclear program. Experts argue over whether Iranian officials are acting in good faith or are using the visits as part of a delaying strategy to buy more time for their nuclear program.
- The outcome of the South Carolina primary turned Mitt Romney from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to a candidate fighting for his political life. If Romney wins a big victory in next week’s winner-take-all-fifty-delegates primary in Florida, he can breathe a sigh of relief. But if he only ekes out a win or loses outright to Newt Gingrich, we could be looking at a GOP presidential race that won’t be settled until April. Meanwhile, Ron Paul is largely passing on Florida to focus his time, money, and organization on caucus states and states with primaries that award delegates proportionally. He could pile up a fair number of delegates with this strategy, making him a force to reckon with come platform time and the decision over speaking slots at the Republican National Convention in August.
- President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani are locked in a heated legal clash with the Pakistani Supreme Court over contempt and corruption charges. The political and legal infighting comes amid rumors of early elections and possibly a military coup. Back in the United States, Pakistan got only a brief mention in President Obama’s State of the Union address, and the signs so far suggest that neither Obama nor the eventual Republican presidential nominee will make Pakistan a significant issue in the 2012 campaign.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is “Anonymous.” My Figure of the Week is $400,000. As always, listen to the podcast to find out why.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the IAEA is going to Tehran to talk about Iran’s nuclear program, and Reuters discusses a new report that finds Iran does not have the capability to build a nuclear weapon this year. The Los Angeles Times recounts how Romney and Gingrich are battling for the Hispanic vote in Florida, which proves crucial since a recent CNN/Time poll shows that the two candidates are virtually tied in the Sunshine State. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani recently retracted his remarks against the military in his Supreme Court case according to Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times explains that Gilani is doing what he can do avoid going to jail.