Oil pressure

A barrel of Texas Intermediate crude fell as low as $67.82 in early trading and was at $67.98 Friday afternoon Eastern Time -- a whopping 7.8% drop.

The lower price for oil helps Americans, obviously -- gasoline gets cheaper, and those of us in the northeast and elsewhere who use oil to heat our houses can save a bit. But the lower the price goes, the more pressure there is on Iran's economy, which is already battered by sanctions. It's no coincidence that OPEC - whose Muslim members are mostly Sunni and feel threatened by Iran's Shia government - is doing everything it can to keep the prices low. (That's only one reason oil prices have plummeted, but it is an important one.)

Will it be enough to force a nuclear deal?

Probably not. For the Iranians, arming themselves with nukes has a logic beyond the economy. If the West wants to keep Iran from building a weapon, ultimately it will have to damage the weapons development infrastructure. The problem is that even the best attack will only delay development, not stop it.

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