War Drums High Pitched. Globe may Plung into Economic Crisis in Isarel`s War against Iran!U.S. Said to Offer India Help With Replacing Iran Oil Supply!
Israel's prime minister is instructing his Cabinet ministers not to speak publicly about Iran, in an apparent attempt to prevent provocative statements ahead of his trip to the White House in early March.
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U.S. Said to Offer India Help With Replacing Iran Oil Supply!
Reports of a large expansion in Iran's uranium enrichment programme sent oil prices soaring, with the Brent benchmark hitting a new nine-month high.
War Drums High Pitched. Globe may Plung into Economic Crisis in Isarel`s War against Iran!Economists at JP Morgan said the recent price run-up brings it closer to becoming largest immediate potential pitfall for European and global economies.Meanwhile, the UN nuclear agency says Iran has rapidly accelerated production of higher-grade enriched uranium over the last four months, in a confidential report that feeds concerns about how quickly the Islamic republic could produce an atomic bomb.It comes amid heightened tensions caused by Iran's refusal to reign in nuclear activities that much of the world fears could be redirected toward a weapons program. A rapid series of sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and others imposed on Tehran have only increased acrimony without any sign that Iran is ready to compromise.
On the other hand, Israel's prime minister is instructing his Cabinet ministers not to speak publicly about Iran, in an apparent attempt to prevent provocative statements ahead of his trip to the White House in early March.Benjamin Netanyahu's office sent text messages asking the ministers not to speak to the media without his express permission. Netanyahu had issued similar instructions before, especially after assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, which Tehran has blamed on Israel.
Both Israel and the U.S. believe Iran seeks to develop nuclear weapons. But the U.S. has become increasingly vocal in its opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites.
The U.S. government has offered to help India get alternative supplies for Iranian crude as it looks to squeeze the Persian Gulf producer's oil revenue, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. Iran dismissed United Nations atomic inspectors' concerns over possible nuclear-weapon work and the Persian Gulf nation tripled its quarterly rate of producing 20 percent-enriched uranium.Iran wants more talks with the UN nuclear watchdog, its ambassador to the body said, despite what one Western envoy called "very long and fruitless" negotiations last week on addressing suspicions about Tehran's atomic activities.
The leading Republican presidential candidates are channeling George W. Bush--one of the most embattled wartime US presidents--by vowing to strike Iran before it fields a nuclear weapon.
The U.S. may help broker deals with suppliers such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the people said, declining to be identified because the information is confidential. Saudi Arabia has already offered to replace Iranian oil supplies if needed, two of the people said. The U.S. is in talks with countries around the world on reducing their dependence on Iranian oil, Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman at the State Department inWashington, said in an e-mail yesterday.
The assurance follows Iran's offer to sell extra crude to India as the Persian Gulf nation, OPEC's second-biggest producer, cuts supplies to some European nations in response to sanctions imposed over its nuclear program. The U.S. and European Union tightened sanctions on Iran last month, restricting trade and financial transactions. They say the program is a cover for developing atomic weapons. Iran denies the accusation.
Oil prices rose to fresh nine-month highs above US$108 a barrel on Friday amid signs the U.S. economy is improving and elevated tensions in the Middle East over Iran's nuclear program.
The benchmark crude for April delivery was up 70 cents to $108.53 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.55 to settle at $107.83 in New York on Thursday.
The U.S. government said Thursday that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week was unchanged and that the four-week average was the lowest in four years.
Traders brushed off evidence that crude demand in the U.S. remains weak. The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said Thursday crude inventories rose 1.6 million barrels last week and that oil demand has dropped 6.7 per cent from a year ago.
"The ability of crude to post new highs in the face of what appeared to be a bearish EIA report attests to the underlying strength of this price advance," energy trader and consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "The oil market has evolved into somewhat of a self perpetuating cycle in which new highs beget new buying that forces new highs."
Crude has jumped from $96 earlier this month amid growing tension over Iran's nuclear program and fears global crude supplies could be disrupted. Some analysts expect economic sanctions by the U.S. and Europe and countermeasures by Iran will help keep crude prices elevated this year.
Iran is continuing to defy the international community by refusing to answer key questions about its nuclear program, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency declared in a report issued Friday.The U.N. nuclear agency says Iran has rapidly ramped up production of higher-grade enriched uranium over the last four months, in a confidential report that feeds concerns about how quickly the Islamic Republic could produce an atomic bomb.
The UN atomic agency said Friday it has "major differences" with Iran and "major concerns" about its nuclear programme, after inspectors probing suspected weapons work returned from Tehran empty-handed.
"An intensive discussion was held on the structured approach to the clarification of all outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme. No agreement was reached between Iran and the Agency, as major differences existed with respect to this approach," a report on the trip said.
"The agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme," the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency circulated to member states added.
It added that Iran has tripled production of 20-percent enriched uranium since its last assessment in November, with 696 centrifuges installed at its heavily bunkered Fordo site -- all of them older-generation, however.
In particular, the IAEA said there was a "disappointing" refusal by Iran to allow the team access to the Parchin military site near Tehran, where a November IAEA report said scientists had conducted suspicious explosives tests.
That report focused on a number of areas where the IAEA believes Iran carried out activities the agency said could only conceivably be aimed at developing nuclear weapons. The report has also heightened speculation that Israel may launch air strikes in an attempt to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities, possibly even later this year.
Friday's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency also said Iran had failed to give a convincing explanation about a quantity of missing uranium metal. Diplomats have said the missing amount could be used for experiments used to arm a warhead.
Iran insists it is not interested in nuclear weapons and says all of its activities are meant either to generate energy or to be used for research. But the report expresses "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."
Instead, it also confirmed that two IAEA missions to Tehran within less than a month had failed to dent Iran's refusal to assist an IAEA probe of suspicions that the country has been secretly working on aspects of a nuclear weapons program.
The confidential report obtained by The Associated Press said the agency continues to have "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."
The report was issued to the IAEA's 35-nation board and the U.N. Security Council as the latest update on what the agency knows and what it suspects about Iran's nuclear program.
"As Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation ... the agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," the International Atomic Energy Agency's director general, Yukiya Amano, wrote in a quarterly report to his Board of Governors.
Amano added that the IAEA "continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," and reported that Iranian officials refused to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the Parchin military base on two recent trips.
"No agreement was reached with Iran on a structured approach to resolving all outstanding issues in connection with Iran's nuclear program," the report said.
In an addition to the previous quarterly report, published in November, Amano made public information detailing the agency's concerns about the possibility that Iran may be secretly working to build a nuclear weapon. The report did not offer proof of an illicit military program, but said Iran needed to answer numerous questions to help resolve the issue.
Iran's leaders ordered a halt to an extensive nuclear program in 2003, the November report said, but concluded that clandestine work on high-speed detonators and other weapons-related research "may still be ongoing." The November report was based on more than 1,000 pages of documents, satellite photos and other intelligence supplied by 10 member nations.
Amano released a strongly worded statement Wednesday night after his team was denied access to Parchin.
"It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin," he said in the statement. "We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached."
In 2000, Iran built a large explosives containment vessel at Parchin to conduct hydrodynamic experiments, the November report said. Those experiments are "strong indicators of possible weapon development," the report said.