AGRO, CRESY, and POT are farm stocks I am looking to buy at the moment.
AGRO, CRESY, and POT are farm stocks I am looking to buy at the moment.
exc website to see what is going on in the middle east , things you will not see on our news very much, it's the Debka files.
That was a great little piece with Lew ROCKWELL. One of the main reasons I started farming, because food is priceless.
Rome meeting analyses Iran oil embargo
Dec 20 (Reuters) - Diplomats from a so-called "group of like-minded nations" met in Rome on Tuesday to discuss further sanctions against Iran, diplomatic sources said.
The closed-door meeting is taking place under the auspices of the Italian foreign ministry and participants considered it a "technical meeting," an Italian diplomatic source said.
Diplomats said it would consider the arguments around a possible EU oil embargo against Iran. A decision may be made when EU foreign ministers next meet in January.No decisions are expected to emerge from Tuesday's meeting.
Participants are countries that have imposed bilateral sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program that go beyond U.N. Security Council sanctions.
The group includes the United States, the European Union and several European nations, Australia, Japan, South Korea and other countries but it was not clear if all of them were represented. The United States is attending.
The small informal group has been meeting for two years and its goal is to share information and discuss the next steps in the sanctions process.
The United States has long banned Iranian crude imports and last week Congress voted through restrictions on dealing with the Iranian central bank. The White House must decide whether or not to grant waivers to major Iranian oil importers like China, India and South Korea that need to deal with the bank to pay for Iran's crude.
IEA: Iran Oil Capacity Seen Below 3M B/D By 2016 Due To Sanctions
LONDON (Dow Jones)--Iran's oil production capacity is forecast to decline by 890,000 barrels a day to just under 3 million barrels a day by 2016 due to tighter U.S. and European Union oil sanctions targeting the country's upstream oil and gas sector, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.
A separate mooted E.U. ban on Iranian oil imports would leave Mediterranean refiners confronting higher prices for replacement crude from producers such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Russia, the IEA said.
However, Saudi Arabia's spare oil capacity may not be a precise match for the significant volumes of Iranian heavy crude involved, the IEA said in its monthly oil market report.
Mediterranean refiners are believed to have already approached Saudi Aramco to enquire about extra cargoes of Arab Light, the closest quality match for Iranian Heavy, although much of the current Saudi spare capacity may instead be held in the form of less suitable Arab Medium or Arab Heavy, the report added.
Rickards sees war with Iran, big price impact on oil and gold
With investors concerned about the recent plunge in gold and silver and questions about what is going to happen with Iran and the Straits of Hormuz, today King World News interviewed KWN resident expert Jim Rickards. Rickards has gained international recognition for his deadly accurate predictions regarding moves by central planners. Rickards let KWN know that the US is headed to war with Iran: “Yeah, it’s very serious, Eric, actually grave. The big thing to get right in this case is that Iran will not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, period. That’s just not going to happen. Now we know they (Iran & its allies) are pushing towards it and so there is going to be a train wreck.”
“The Obama administration has pursued diplomacy very vigorously. My view is it has failed. (The other possibility) would be a regime change. I say the war has already begun. There’s a lot of sabotage, there have been assassinations, strange things blowing up, rebellion. So there is enormous pressure being put on the Iranian regime from many directions. All of this is designed to destabilize the regime.But I think the regime is too entrenched, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp are to ruthless. They actually buy cranes, they hang people not from scaffolds, but from cranes, and they are buying more cranes because they are hanging more people. They’ll do whatever it takes, so I don’t see regime change.
What’s left? Well, what’s left is war and that is, unfortunately, where I see this heading. There is a lot of maneuvering going on already. The Iranians have a submarine fleet that’s kind of interesting because they run on battery power, so they are extremely quiet and hard to detect. They could take out one or two US vessels.They also practice these swarm techniques. They have these speed boats, like in Miami Vice, that type of boat that can go 50, 60 knots. (They are) much faster than any naval vessel. They load them up with explosives, they put suicide crews on them....
“If you send out one or two, you (the US) would swat them like flies. But if you send out fifty of them, even with these kind of laser guided gatling guns they have on some of the vessels, you can’t take all of them out. So the chance that one of them sinks one of our vessels is not insignificant.
They (Iran) could close the Straits of Hormuz. The (US) Navy would come in and clear it, but that’s not like moving traffic cones on a highway construction site. That would probably take weeks because there are mines and minesweeping is a very tedious and dangerous thing that takes a long period of time.
So it could get much messier, much uglier and much more deadly than I think a lot of people realize. Of course we all know what would happen to the price of oil. It would be up at $200 a barrel of higher. So, let’s hope it (war) doesn’t happen, but that’s one we could see happening in 2012, maybe even by the summer.”
When asked about the call, from Egon von Greyerz, for gold to move into the $3,000 to $5,000 range in 2012, Rickards responded, “Well, it’s certainly possible, I would not rule it out. I definitely see it in that range, so I agree completely with Egon that’s where it is heading.
Timing is always tricky. I have the direction and the magnitude right, but I see it as 2013, then going into 2014, I can definitely see it (gold) getting to that level. 2012 might be a stretch, but it could happen. Look, I would absolutely not rule it out, but it’s probably more in the next two years, rather than in the next year.”
Rickard's "Deadly accurate predictions"? Like when he said in 2009 that gold would go to $10,000 an ounce (gold was $1140 at the time)?
A year ago he revised that down to $4,000 to $11,000.Quote:
Jim Rickards' Gold Price Prediction Tops $10,000
These 6 analysts see gold price going parabolic to +$10,000:
1. Mike Maloney, $15,000
2. Ben Davies, $10,000-$15,000
3. Howard Katz, $14,000
4. Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, $7,000-$14,000
5. Jim Rickards, $4,000-$11,000
6. Roland Watson, $10,800
Yesterday, Jim Rickards, director of market intelligence for McLean, Virginia-based consulting firm Omnis, was allowed onto CNBC again to make gold-friendly comments. The first time he was on CNBC back in September, he said When you own gold, you're fighting every central bank in the world. This time he said that gold should easily reach $2,000/ounce next year... and if gold should start being considered money again, it would have to rise to between $4,000 and $11,000 to support the big increase in the world's money supply. This GATA dispatch contains his original September CNBC interview... along with the new one. Both are absolutely worth watching... and you can hear a pin drop in the studio when he's talking about gold and where the price is going... and the link is here.
Oil is up big time today on USD weakness and intensifying harsh rhetoric from both the Iranians and the US.
WTI is up 4 % at $ 103
Brent is up 4.6% at $ 112
Gold is also rebounding from it´s dip in late 2011: + 2.1 % at $ 1604
Here is what the always behind the curve mainstream media has to say about this today:
Iran Oil Tension Boosts Prices: The New Libya?
Oil prices surged nearly $4 per barrel on Tuesday morning on concerns about supply disruption ensuing from a possible confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. Front month WTI crude prices reached a intraday high of nearly $103 a barrel. Technically, February WTI crude futures need to breakout past the most recent high of $103.37 for a drive to $104 and higher.
Brent crude oil prices remain in an upswing as well, hitting a session high of $111.58 per barrel, and a close above $109.59 signals an emerging bull run advance, according to technicians. For Brent crude, the next key level to watch is $112.70, the 200-day moving average.
Traders say Iran is the new Libya. Just as civil war in Libya caused crude oil prices to spike to near $115 a barrel in 2011, escalating tensions between the Iran and the West could cause oil prices to reach those levels again early this year. Iran is the world's fourth largest oil producer, with production at 4.245 million barrels daily in 2010, according to the 2011 BP Statistical Review.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran's army chief warned the U.S. Navy not to return an aircraft carrier back to the Persian Gulf after it was removed due to Iran's naval exercises in the area. Iran's threat comes after it test fired missiles in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend and the U.S. formalized extending sanctions on any entity dealing with the Iranian Central Bank. The euro-zone nations should decide by the end of the month whether to place an embargo on Iranian oil imports.
"Some of the rhetoric can at times be part of a PR show but it can quickly spin out of control," said Petromatrix energy analyst Olivier Jakob. "Iran asking a departing U.S. aircraft carrier not to return is almost forcing the US Navy to send it back to the Persian Gulf."
Iran has said it could shut the Strait of Hormuz, a major waterway that the EIA calls "the world's most important oil chokepoint due to its daily oil flow of almost 17 million barrels in 2011."
Iran's currency is already feeling the pinch of a possible oil ban — with the rial falling 40 percent vs. the dollar in the past month.
"In this environment of increasing tensions and rhetoric, global asset managers are unlikely to give up their long exposure to oil ... at least until we can have a clearer idea as to what the Eurozone decides on an Iranian import ban and the Iranian reaction to the Eurozone decision," Jakob said.
He recommended buying the very back of the curve in Brent crude oil, buying December 2016 Brent at $90 in the current Iranian geopolitical environment.
Some traders said they're hedging Iranian risk to oil prices by buying "out of the money" calls. Call options from $110 to $130 have been trading, said Paramount Options president Ray Carbone, on concerns about Iran as well as possible strikes in Nigeria.
Crude Surges On News Europe Agrees To Ban Iran Oil Imports
IDIOTS, China is gonna buy it all. European consumers are going to pay more at the pump.
EU politicians want higher gas prices for their citizens:
Germany's foreign minister says sees oil embargo in the coming days
The fall of the Iranian rial: too much of a good thing?
In Tehran’s volatile currency market the rial fell to its lowest level ever today (January 2, 2012), the US dollar closing above 17,000 rials. The devaluation of the rial that started at a gradual pace over a year ago, and was largely expected and welcomed by economists, accelerated, going from less than 11,000 to around 15,000 rial per dollar in a matter of weeks. The additional fall in rial of about 10% in the last two days raises the question if the correction has gone too far. To answer this question one needs to have some idea of what is the right rate of exchange for Iran’s currency, something that you are unlikely to find in standard economics textbooks. There are two reasons why the market clearing price is not a good guide to the value of the rial: sanctions and oil.
Financial sanctions against Iran, which intensified this week with the signing into law of the latest bill by President Obama extending them to transactions with Iran’s Central Bank, essentially create a segmented market for foreign exchange in Iran. One market is for foreign currencies held in various accounts belonging to Iranian banks, and the other is for foreign currency notes or paper money. Because of the sanctions, there is demand for paper money for certain transactions for which dollars or euros in foreign banks are of little use. Iran has reportedly about $80 billion in bank accounts around the world, which it cannot easily spend. So, for most transactions people are forced to buy paper currency in the Tehran market, or buy it in Dubai and have it shipped in. For example, to send money to your daughter in Malaysia, these days you have to find a trustworthy traveler to take it for you because the Central Bank cannot make the transfer. So much for smart sanctions.
This market is relatively small, however, so its price can fluctuate rapidly. Some of the increase in the value of foreign currency reported in recent weeks is probably of this kind, reflecting the tightening of sanction. As more people in need of dollars enter this market –, manufacturers in need of imported parts, parents paying for their children’s education abroad, and the like — the price can shoot up quickly.
So, the two tier exchange rates system that has recently emerged is in part the result of sanctions, not policy. It is therefore not to be confused with the policy-induced multiple exchange rate system that existed before 2000-2001. At least a part of the current gap between the two rates is because there are two types of foreign currencies, paper money and electronic bank accounts. The government has little control over this gap, unless it can find a way to bypass the sanctions and enable Iranian importers to use its holdings of foreign currency. We do not know what the equilibrium exchange would be if sanctions did not exist because we do not know the size of the market for paper currency.
The second reason why it is difficult to determine the right exchange rate lies at the heart of Iran’s oil-based economy. Roughly speaking, and ignoring capital accounts, in a normal economy the exchange rate reflects two productivities, the productivity of workers producing for exports at home relative to the productivity of workers in countries from which imports originate. Since in a balanced economy productivity in the export sector is close to the average level of productivity in the economy, the exchange rate reflects relative productivity levels in the two countries. So, if in one country demand for imported goods expands in line with increase in productivity, its currency need not depreciate; higher productivity would help pay for the additional imports because it would make the country’s exports more competitive.
But if exports are mostly oil or oil related products, this mechanism would fail to work. (Iran’s non-oil related exports amount to less than 5% of total exports.) The oil sector produces a lot of value with relatively few workers, as if these workers were much more productive than their fellow workers in the rest of the economy. But “productivity” in the oil and oil-related sectors such as petrochemical depends on the price of oil and on how much the government decides to extract from its reserves, two variables that have nothing to do with average productivity. The world price of oil is beyond government’s control, but how much it decides to extract (or more precisely how much of its oil revenues it decides to inject into the economy) does affect the exchange rate. The fact that governments of oil-exporting countries can influence the equilibrium exchange rate by merely selling more oil suggests that the textbook case of supply and demand is not all that relevant. The market for foreign exchange is dominated by a monopolist –the government — which has to decide on its oil exports and the exchange rate simultanously.
I do not know how one would go about finding the optimal level at which the government should set the exchange rate (by extracting more or less oil or by brining more or less of the oil money into the economy). But I do not need to know the optimal rate to know that, until a few weeks ago, Iran’s currency was highly overvalued. The oil boom of the last decade that brought $80-$100 billions a year in oil revenues prevented the rial from falling in value despite rising inflation in Iran. As a result, imports became increasingly cheap, undermining domestic production.
The figure below shows that while Iran’s price level was rising fast (the line in green) its exchange rate remained rather steady (red), causing the real effective exchange rate (EER, in blue) to increase; that is, Iran’s currency appreciated relative to the currencies of its main trading partners. Iran’s consumer price index more than doubled during 2005-2010 while the rial lost less than 15% of its value, causing the EER to increase by 50%. If we take these numbers as our main guide for deciding how far is too far for the rial to fall, 50% would be about right. This simple analysis then suggests a band between 15,000-16,000 rials per dollar.
This adjustment is long overdue and the impact of the real appreciation of the rial on the real economy has been quite severe. Because Iran’s economy is rigid and workers move slowly between sectors, the shock to the tradable sectors has caused loss of output and increased unemployment in tradable sectors, such as textiles. If the oil boom hurt Iran’s tradable sectors, can sanctions do the opposite by protecting domestic production from foreign competition? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because as Iran finds it increasingly difficult to pay for imports using its oil money deposited in foreign banks, and has to resort to barter and other special arrangements for tis import, domestic production will gain shelter from foreign competition. No, because much of domestic production depends on imports of intermediate goods, which will be also cut as a result of tougher trade conditions.
The fall in rial is just one part of this process of adjustment. As it falls it sets both forces into motion: the good (more protection) and the bad (costly inputs for industry and agriculture). To answer the question that I posed at the outset for this post more accurately – has rial fallen too much? – requires knowing which of these two factors is stronger.
Today, EU countries actually agreed on an oil embargo:
European Union diplomats agreed to place an embargo on the import of Iranian oil with a phase-in period to July 1, an EU official said.
Iran Warns Oil Prices May Jump to $150 after EU Sanctions
The EU oil embargo is backfiring at Europe. EU leaders are digging a hole for themselves:
Iranian lawmakers call for cutting off oil supply to EU over Europe sanctions
More than two-thirds of Iran’s lawmakers have endorsed a statement calling for cutting off oil sales to the European Union before EU sanctions on their country go into effect.
On Saturday, Iran’s oil minister said the country would “definitely” cut off oil to “hostile” European countries.
India increases Iran oil imports
India has increased oil imports from Iran to become the Islamic Republic's largest customer last month, ignoring recent sanctions imposed by US and EU on importing Iran’s oil.
According to The Wall Street Journal Iranian crude exports to India rose to 550,000 barrels a day in January, up 37.5 percent from December 2011.
As you can see below, sanctions are isolationist actions.
Indonesia says would study any barter approach from Iran
* Indonesia says not averse to barter trade with Iran
* Might consider gas-for-food deals
* India trying to work around sanctions (Adds quotes, background)
By Yayat Supriatna and Niluski Koswanage
JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Indonesia, the world's top palm oil producer, would study any approach by Iran to trade by barter, it said on Friday, as tightening sanctions hurt Iran's ability to pay for basic staples.
Western financial sanctions have crimped Iran's purchases of grain, cooking oil and tea, and barter could provide one way to resume shipments. Iran may turn to countries that have large Muslim populations and resources, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, for its needs. Commodities traders have told Reuters Iran is offering gold bullion in overseas vaults or tankerloads of oil to secure food for its 74 million people, but could not give specific details on deals. Barter deals are often between governments rather than companies.
Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said the government would consider proposals but had not received any overtures from Iran. Trade officials said such deals have proved troublesome in the past.
"We have not got barter trade proposals from the Iranian government so far. If they really want to have barter trade with Indonesia and ask us to do so, then we have to study it first before doing the barter," Wirjawan told reporters, adding if any barter trade was discussed gas would be preferable to oil.
New sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran for its nuclear programme do not bar firms from selling Iran food but they make it difficult to carry out the international financial transactions needed to pay for it.
Iran has not approached Malaysia for barter deals to keep its palm oil supplies flowing, two Malaysian government sources told Reuters on Friday, after traders said the country has stopped shipping the vegetable oil to Iran this year.
One said Malaysia is no longer keen to do barter trades after facing problems in a deal with North Korea in 2009 when $20 million worth of palm oil was to be exchanged for cash and fertiliser components.
"No matter how you do it, these countries don't have enough to barter. So Malaysia is not going to do barter trades for the time being," said the source, who had direct knowledge of the matter. Malaysia is the world's number two palm oil producer.
"We are more concerned if there are declines in exports in our top markets like India and China rather than Iran," the source added, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
DUCKING FOR COVER
Barter deals have grown more likely as foreign banks find it too difficult -- or simply not worth the chance of damaging their links to the United States -- to trade with Iranian banks.
U.S. sanctions have also sought to isolate Iran's central bank as a way of choking off hard currency flows.
Singaporean firms have stopped supplying Iran with Indonesian palm oil on concerns over the country's ability to make payments in the wake of Western sanctions, trading sources in Singapore have said.
Singapore banks will not risk getting cut off from access to U.S. dollar flows as that will kill their business.
"For most financial institutions, they'll run away the moment they see Iran," a senior banking source said on Friday.
Barter trade isn't without its difficulties, Indonesian officials said.
"We have some experience in doing counter-trade with several countries although we were not so successful on the trade," said Deddy Saleh, Director-General of Foreign Trade at the Trade Ministry, pointing to the complexity of past deals.
"It should be arranged under a government to government agreement umbrella although the goods which will be counter traded are in the hands of private companies," Deddy said.
Barter trade for Indonesia's palm oil sector was a clear example of the challenges, said Fadhil Hasan, Executive Director of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI).
"It is rather difficult to do barter trade, and normally there should be a government role. However, especially for palm oil, I think it would be difficult because palm oil is a high demand commodity. Indonesian palm oil producers, I suppose, will be reluctant to participate in the barter trade."
The Malaysian government has had a longstanding barter trade facility and more than 20 countries have used this scheme including Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Cuba and Russia. About half a billion U.S. dollars is allocated by the Malaysian government for the scheme and about half has been used up, local media reports show.
Indonesia has done barter type trades before at a government level. In 2003-2004, Indonesia swapped palm oil and rubber for fighter planes from Russia, and it has also exchanged civilian planes for rice from Thailand.
"We don't have political problems with Iran and in principle we are very open if there is a trade-off offer," said Mahfuz Shidik, of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party and head of the Indonesian parliamentary group handling foreign affairs.
"Also, if due to sanctions the impact is felt by the food supplies of the Iranian people, Indonesia must respond by sending humanitarian aid."
India, too, has a long history of barter trade involving food for military equipment during the Soviet era and the government says it is not bound by U.S. and European sanctions.
Rahul Khullar, trade secretary of India, one of Iran's main trade partners, said on Thursday: "If the EU and the U.S. both want to stop exports to that country, please tell me why I should follow suit? Why shouldn't I take up that business opportunity?"
Under U.S. pressure, India shut down a payments system for trade with Iran last year. Under a new system, Indian firms are expected to pay for 45 percent of their Iranian oil imports in Indian rupees to avoid going through international banks. Implementing the system has been stalled while Indian authorities work out whether to subject such payments to tax.
The Saudis are doing their part to support the war efforts against their arch enemy, I doubt they could actually keep oil (WTI, not Brent) below $100:
Video at link: http://www.cnbc.com/id/46285933Quote:
Saudi Arabia Will Not Let Oil Go Above $100: Prince
An "element of fear" is playing into the price of oil despite higher supply and decreasing demand, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud told CNBC Monday.
Bin Talal, the billionaire member of the Saudi Arabian royal family who runs the Kingdom Holding Co., said the fear comes from "what may happen with Iran and the possibility of closing the Hormuz Strait."
But Saudi Arabia has already said it will not let the price of oil [WTI, not Brent], which closed Monday around $97 a barrel, go above $100, bin Talal said.
"We can use our leverage, our excess capacity to be sure to pump more [oil] if needed so it will not impact the consumer countries while they’re getting out of their recessions slowly but surely," the prince said.
As for Iran, he said it is important for the U.S. and other nations to put sanctions on the "renegade country" to force its government to negotiate. Issuing an ultimatum of war would push Iran to the "desperate move" of blocking the vital oil shipment waterway.
"I believe a solution is not impossible with them," bin Talal said of Iran. "A dialog is the best way to do it."
But if the strait is blocked he believes the U.S. can reopen the strait "very quickly." He added he wants a "nuclear-free" region, which means Israel should give up its nuclear arsenal, too.
He said the European debt crisis is "pulling down the growth of the world economies" and it is important for the European Union countries to "get their house in order because this can't go on indefinitely." Greece leaving the EU would set a bad precedent, he added, and could lead to the disintegration of the euro.
The prince, Citigroup's [C 32.91 -0.75 (-2.23%) ] biggest shareholder, said CEO Vikram Pandit has brought the bank "out of the wilderness" and expects the company to pay a dividend or buy back shares sometime this year, once it gets clearance from the Federal Reserve .
Bin Talal, also a major shareholder in News Corp [= FOX] . [NWSA 19.18 -0.03 (-0.16%) ]and Apple [AAPL 494.744 1.574 (+0.32%) ], said he recently invested $300 million in Twitter, saying the huge number of its users makes it a "force to be reckoned with." He hasn't invested in Facebook, he said, but "we never say no to anything."
And here comes another important headline
Report: Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran tests bomb
Iran now launches an attack on the Petrodollar, we know how this ended for IraQ...
Iran presses ahead with dollar attack
Last week, the Tehran Times noted that the Iranian oil bourse will start trading oil in currencies other than the dollar from March 20. This long-planned move is part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vision of economic war with the west.
"The dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme is nothing more than a convenient excuse for the US to use threats to protect the 'reserve currency’ status of the dollar,” the newspaper, which calls itself the voice of the Islamic Revolution, said.
“Recall that Saddam [Hussein] announced Iraq would no longer accept dollars for oil purchases in November 2000 and the US-Anglo invasion occurred in March 2003,” the Times continued. “Similarly, Iran opened its oil bourse in 2008, so it is a credit to Iranian negotiating ability that the 'crisis’ has not come to a head long before now.”
Iran has the third-largest oil reserves in the world and pricing oil in currencies other than dollars is a provocative move aimed at Washington. If Iran switches to the non-dollar terms for its oil payments, there could be a new oil price that would be denominated in euro, yen or even the yuan or rupee.
India is already in talks with Iran over how it can pay for its oil in rupees.
Even more surprisingly, reports have suggested that India is even considering paying for its oil in gold bullion. However, it is more likely that the country will pay in rupees, a currency that is not freely convertible.
Last week, Indian state-owned group Hindustan Petroleum said that Indian businesses could not pay for Iranian crude imports in rupees unless the federal finance ministry exempted such payments from crippling withholding tax. This issue remains unresolved.
India and Iran have agreed – but not yet started – to settle 45pc of payments for Iranian oil in rupees. Iran will then use the currency to buy imports from India.
New Delhi currently spends about $12bn (£7.6bn) on Iranian oil each year, importing 12pc of the country’s needs from the country.
India pays for its oil in dollars, routed through a bank in Turkey after a previous mechanism was shut down in 2010. The Indian government has been resisting calls to stop importing oil from the pariah state.
“There have been problems with regard to Iran’s nuclear programme,” Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, said on Friday. “We sincerely believe that this issue can be and should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy.”
All of this means that the EU ban on Iranian oil imports, which comes into force on July 1, could hit Europe harder than it does Iran.
The country currently supplies 500,000 barrels of oil per day to the EU and there is a potential oil price spike in the offing should Iran pre-emptively stop the flow of oil to Europe, which it has threatened to do.
This could be disastrous to businesses that are already finding the economic climate tough.
“While Iran may be able to find markets for much of its oil output in Asia, the alternative sources of supply to Europe are still unclear,” Caroline Bain, a commodities analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said.
“Until the supply outlook stabilises, the oil price is expected to continue to reflect this uncertainty rather than the likelihood of lower growth in global oil consumption in 2012.”
The worries are already sending ripples of concern around the world.
“While we have been listing the Iranian situation as a source of upside risk for a decade, there are some new factors that can make for a far more dangerous outcome, as the current drift of policy on both sides is creating the risk of a significant escalation,” Sudakshina Unnikrishnan, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said.
“Iran may close the Strait of Hormuz, causing an anticipated 50pc rise in crude oil prices, resulting in widespread economic havoc,” the Tehran Times columnist noted.
So the EU ban could be counter productive, as it keeps the oil price high. However, as long as President Ahmadinejad’s economic war doesn’t escalate into an actual war, we may manage to avoid a crippling oil spike.
Lol @ Europe.
The Chinese will just buy the oil and Europeans will foot the bill.
Politicians are so fucking stupid. Either stupid or proactively seeking a war. Stupidity.
That map is old (dates from November). GHW Bush is not off the coast of Syria. As of Feb 7th they are in the Atlantic Ocean having left Mayport Florida on the 6th of February. http://gonavy.jp/CVLocation.html
Thanks- I was think about that after I wrote my responce. Sorry.
Top Iranian Lawmaker: Consensus On Banning Oil Exports To EU
LONDON (Dow Jones)--There is a consensus in Iran's parliament over a pre-emptive move to ban oil exports to the European Union, a top conservative lawmaker said Tuesday, as the Islamic Republic seek to retaliate against stifling sanctions.
The statements come amid mounting international tensions after Israel accused Iran and its proxy group in Lebanon, Hezbollah, for a bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat in India Monday--a claim Tehran denies.
In remarks to Iran's parliament news website Icana, Omidvar Rezai, a former revolutionary guard and one-time presidential candidate, said the proposal is still being reviewed by the parliament's committees but that there is consensus regarding its approval.
The EU last month agreed to a full embargo on purchases of Iranian oil from July 1 over the country's nuclear program. Iran maintains the program is peaceful.
Iranian lawmakers, in recess until early March, have vowed to interrupt sales immediately, potentially undercutting moves by European refiners to gradually find replacements.
However some companies, like France's Total SA (TOT), have already stopped buying oil from Iran and switched to suppliers such as Saudi Arabia.
Eastern Saudi Arabia is now also affected:
Gunfights in Saudi Oil Province Show Spread of Iran Tensions
Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Armored anti-riot vehicles cluster outside the police station in Awwamiya in Saudi Arabia's oil- producing eastern region, where unrest is turning violent. "We have enough police force to deal with any criminal or prohibited situation," says Brigadier-General Yousef al-Qahtani as he drives through the town. In nearby al-Qatif, graffiti scrawled on a cemetery wall criticizes the Al Saud family, founders of the kingdom eight decades ago, and calls for the removal of their fellow Sunni Muslim monarchs in Bahrain. Black Shiite flags adorn religious centers in the back-alleys.
Clashes between police and armed Shiite protesters in the two towns have intensified since October, when 11 police were injured in an attack. Since then, seven Shiites have been killed by security forces, according to figures provided by Saudi Arabia's Human Rights First Society.
It's in such places that tensions between the Gulf's Sunni nations and Shiite-led Iran may spark violence inside Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter. Shiites here have cultural and family ties with Iran, and also with Bahrain, where Saudi troops helped crush Shiite-led protests that broke out a year ago today. Saudi authorities accuse Iran, which is under growing western pressure to back down over its nuclear program, of stirring up unrest in both cases.
'Much Bigger Fire'
"This is another one of those possible flashpoints in the region that could become a much bigger fire if it is not contained early on," Paul Sullivan, a political scientist specializing in Middle East security at Georgetown University in Washington, said in an e-mail.
After two Shiites were shot dead in gun battles in Awwamiya and al-Qatif last week, the cost of Saudi Arabia's credit default swaps jumped 2 percent to 131.8, before retreating to 129.2 yesterday. They reached a two-and-a-half- year high last month as Iranian threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, in response to a planned western oil embargo, stoked concerns of conflict in a region that supplies a fifth of the world's crude.
Most of that comes from Saudi Arabia, and the biggest Saudi oil fields are in the Eastern Province, home to most of the Saudi Shiite population. It's the second-largest Shiite community in the Gulf after Iraq's, comprising between 10 and 15 percent of the total of 19 million Saudi nationals, according to the U.S. State Department.
Iran denies charges of interference by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, and accuses their Sunni rulers of discriminating against Shiites.
In Bahrain, linked to eastern Saudi Arabia's Shiite regions by a 16-mile (26-kilometer) causeway, protests have also been escalating, in the run-up to today's anniversary. Yesterday, Shiite-led opposition groups accused the security forces of attacking peaceful demonstrations with teargas and stun grenades, while the Interior Ministry said protesters hurled rocks and set fire to private property.
Saudi Arabia largely escaped the unrest that spread across the Arab world last year, though there were protests in Awwamiya, al-Qatif and other eastern towns. Shiite cleric Tawfiq al-Amir was arrested after he called for a constitutional monarchy and equal rights.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran date back to Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused Saudi rulers of corruption and argued that the holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia shouldn't be under a single country's guardianship. In December, the U.S. agreed to sell Saudi Arabia 84 F-15 fighter jets in a $29.4 billion deal seen as bolstering defenses against Iran.
'Card They Can Use'
"To ask if Iran has an interest in destabilizing Saudi Arabia, yes they do," said Khalid al-Dakhil, a political science professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, in a phone interview. "It is a card they can use to pressure the Saudis."
In al-Qatif, the graffiti shows Shiite resentment at their perceived exclusion from the country's wealth. "Where is the oil money?" one slogan asks. Smashed street lights and road signs attest to recent violence in the Gulf city, where wooden dhow boats anchor and families picnic as vehicles carrying riot police speed along the coast road.
The U.S. State Department noted in a human-rights report on Saudi Arabia published in 2009 that Shiites in the kingdom face "significant political, economic, legal, social and religious discrimination condoned by the government."
Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh described practices during the Ashoura festival, a day of mourning for Shiite Muslims, as "against Islamic law" in an article published in Al-Watan newspaper on Dec. 3.
Seventy-four students, mainly Shiites, from the Jubail Industrial College north of al-Qatif called on the government to penalize companies that discriminate in hiring, Safwa News reported on Feb. 3. Their petition criticized Saudi Arabian Mining Co., the kingdom's largest miner, for excluding 60 Shiite students from an employment program. Calls to the company's communications office weren't answered yesterday.
Shiite leaders held meetings with the late King Fahd in 1993 and were promised measures to address the region's grievances. The Eastern Province is benefitting from King Abdullah's $130 billion spending pledges last year, including a new stadium and roads in Awwamiya.
"The majority of people in Qatif, while they do have grievances and quite legitimate demands, they don't believe it is the right way to alleviate their grievances through violence," al-Dakhil said.
Violence, though, has been increasing since October when security forces were fired upon from side streets of Awwamiya. Gun battles between police and demonstrators broke out there and in Qatif on Feb. 9 and 10. "We never experienced shooting at the police before," Colonel Abdullah Aseeri, the police chief of al-Qatif, said in an interview. Brigadier General Yousef, an almost 30-year veteran with the Interior Ministry, said the use of weapons and "endangering the lives and safety of citizens is a red line."
Security forces are displaying more restraint than they have in the past in their response to protests, said Ibrahim al- Mugaiteeb, president of the Human Rights First Society. "A lot of demonstrations happen without a police crackdown," he said.
A delegation of Shiite Muslim scholars and clerics from al- Qatif condemned clashes in November that left four people dead and nine injured, Al-Yaum newspaper reported. They also pledged loyalty to the Al Saud leadership.
Such community elders, seeking to soothe tensions, don't have the traction they used to have, said Tawfiq al-Saif, a prominent Shiite cleric. Young Saudi Shiites, like their contemporaries elsewhere in the Arab world, are demanding change, he said.
"There is the sense of being marginalized in the country among the Shiite young," al-Saif said. "The younger generation feels that it is no longer the role of the leaders or elders to solve their problems. People want promises fulfilled."
Iranian patrol boats shadow US aircraft carrier as it passes through Strait of Hormuz
Iran gold reserves 500 tones, CBI governor
Feb 14 – The governor of the Central Bank of Iran says that the gold reserves of the country were 500 tones and it has offered 60 tons on the domestic market, Mehr news agency reported Tuesday.
Mahmoud Bahamani talking at a seminar on challenges of monetary policies and production added that to meet the demand of the domestic market it has also sold in advance 8 million gold coins which have to be delivered after the Iranian New Year, starting on Mar 21.
There was different announcement over the country’s gold reserves and the latest came from the chairman of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Yahya Ale-Eshagh who claimed two weeks ago the reserves top 907 tones.
Turkey sticks with Iran oil ...
An Ankara-based energy official said: "Turkey will continue
to buy from Iran unless the United Nations supports/endorses the
EU and U.S. oil embargo".
A U.N. embargo against Iran now seems very unlikely after
Russia and China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, blocked
U.N. sanctions against Syria.
Turkey's long campaign for EU entry may now be less likely
to influence its stance - its relations with the bloc are at
their lowest point in years and negotiations on membership,
which began in 2005, are stalled with no immediate prospect of
Turkey imports around 200,000 barrels per day of oil from
Iran, covering 30 percent of daily domestic consumption and
representing over 7 percent of Iranian oil exports, and had
renewed its annual purchase agreement for 2012.
Most industry analysts expect China and Turkey to continue
buying the same or increased volumes, despite previous signals
from Ankara it could buy more Saudi oil and reports from Beijing
that some of its firms are reducing purchases.
Traders say they suspect those signals were part of attempts
by both Ankara and Beijing to negotiate lower prices for Iranian
oil. The two countries are unlikely to follow the example of
major Iranian customers South Korea and Japan, which are seeking
to cut purchases to win waivers from U.S. sanctions.
NATO member Turkey has deepened economic and financial ties
with Iran in recent years, despite Western efforts to isolate
the country because they accuse it of trying to develop bombs
under cover of what Tehran says is a nuclear energy programme.
On a diplomatic level, Ankara often presents itself as a
mediator in talks with the Islamic Republic, which it sees as a
balancing force in the region against Israel.
Another Ankara-based oil industry official said Turkey's
sole refiner Tupras was studying alternative crude
purchase options but that did not mean it planned to stop buying
oil from Iran, the second biggest oil exporter in the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"Tupras gets a really good price from Iran and from their
point of view, there is nothing illegal. They pay through legal
means and as long as that is the case, why would they stop?" he
said, referring to payments via Turkish bank Halkbank.
Further economic warfare is beeing considered:
US, Europe look at fast but risky penalty on Iran
(AP) WASHINGTON — The United States and Europe are considering unprecedented punishment against Iran that could immediately cripple the country's financial lifeline. But it's an extreme option in the banking world that would come with its own costs.
The Obama administration wants Iran evicted from SWIFT, an independent financial clearinghouse that is crucial to the country's overseas oil sales. That would leapfrog the current slow-pressure campaign of sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to drop what the U.S. and its allies contend is a drive toward developing and building nuclear weapons. It also perhaps would buy time for the U.S. to persuade Israel not to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran this spring.
The last-resort financial effort suggests the U.S. and Europe are grasping for ways to show immediate results because economic sanctions have so far failed to force Iran back to nuclear talks.
But such a penalty could send oil prices soaring when many of the world's economies are still frail. It also could hurt ordinary Iranians and undercut the reputation of SWIFT, a banking hub used by virtually every nation and corporation around the world. The organization's full name is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
Meanwhile, violence is increasing. Explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday — Israel's defense minister labeled them an "attempted terrorist attack" — came the day after Israel accused Iran of trying to kill its diplomats in India and Georgia. Those attacks followed the recent killings of Iranian scientists.
In the financial world, the United States can't order SWIFT to kick Iran out. But it has leverage in that it can punish the Brussels-based organization's board of directors. Talks are focused now on having Europe make the first move.
Short of total expulsion, Washington and representatives of several European nations are in talks over ways to restrict Iran's use of the banking consortium to collect oil profits.
European action on SWIFT could come quickly.
Representatives from SWIFT were scheduled to meet with European Union officials this week, a U.S. official familiar with the talks said. The official said the meeting was expected to result in the EU ordering SWIFT to expel at least some of its sanctioned banks, though it was unclear whether the order would extend to Iran's Central Bank.
The Obama administration is divided over whether the possible gain is worth the risk in trying to threaten SWIFT into kicking out a member country, in part because of concern that it would set back the global financial recovery. Iran remains a global financial player despite years of banking sanctions, and blocking it from using the respected transfer system would be a black mark like no other.
More than 40 Iranian banks and institutions use SWIFT to process financial transactions, and losing access to that flow of international funds could badly damage the Islamic republic's economy. It would also probably hurt average Iranians more than the welter of existing banking sanctions already in place since prices for household goods would rise while the value of Iranian currency would drop.
Lawyers for SWIFT are holding meetings in Washington. People familiar with the talks say a compromise is possible in which SWIFT would voluntarily bar or restrict Iranian transfers.
But if SWIFT fails to act on its own, the U.S. expects Europe to require it to terminate services for Iranian banks, another Obama administration official said.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
David Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, delivered that message to European Union officials in Brussels earlier this month, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and thus spoke only on the condition of anonymity.
Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert advising the White House on Iran, said the Obama administration is having detailed discussions on the merits and consequences of forcing SWIFT to block Iranian transactions.
Some in the administration also prefer to give time for new sanctions on Iran's Central Bank, officially enforced starting just this month, to take hold before layering on a round of even more draconian penalties.
SWIFT was involved in a separate controversy when it was revealed in 2006 that it had skirted the EU's strict privacy laws after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by transferring millions of pieces of personal information from its U.S. offices to American authorities as part of the US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.
"It is an essential cog in the wheel, if not the wheel itself, in international financial transactions and trade," said David Aufhauser, former general counsel at the Treasury Department who worked with SWIFT to set up that information transfer.
SWIFT handles cross-border payments for more than 10,000 financial institutions and corporations in 210 countries. It lets users exchange financial information securely and reliably, thereby lowering costs and reducing risk. It operates on trust and neutrality — SWIFT accepts nearly all comers and does not judge the merits of the transactions passing through its secure message system. Its managers generally brush off investigators and enforcement agencies, telling them to take up suspected wrongdoing directly with nations or corporations.
Established in 1973, the essential but little-known hub is overseen by major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.
Lawyers familiar with SWIFT's operations said it could bar processing actions with any Iranian party or third parties representing Iran, though that would open the consortium to complaints of favoritism or political influence. It could permit the processing but quarantine Iranian transactions, or require warnings to those doing business with Iran. Penalties on Iran short of expulsion could allow SWIFT to preserve a greater appearance of neutrality but make business partners think twice, lawyers said.
Proponents of blocking Iran from SWIFT say the financial network's own bylaws require that its services not be used to facilitate illegal activities and allow it to prohibit users that are subject to sanctions.
While the U.S. and Europe debate options, some American lawmakers are trying to increase pressure on SWIFT. The Senate Banking Committee passed a measure earlier this month directing the White House to press SWIFT to block Iranian entities.
A tougher House bill would compel the administration to sanction SWIFT unless it stopped providing services to Iran.
The pending legislation has caught the attention of officials at SWIFT. The financial network's general counsel and other advisers requested a meeting with congressional lawmakers and staff next week, Senate aides said.
Officials close to the White House say the Obama administration is comfortable with the less restrictive language in the Senate Banking Committee measure, but has concerns that more-binding legislation would leave the U.S. less flexibility in dealing with Iran.
SWIFT did not respond to requests for comment. In a brief statement posted on its website, the consortium said it is committed to fighting misuse of the financial system to finance terrorism and has cooperated with enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Europe.
Without addressing the specifics of a full expulsion or more limited block on Iranian transactions, SWIFT's statement urged caution.
"SWIFT remains committed to maintaining its role as a neutral global financial communications network" while complying with sanctions laws, the statement said.
Global clearinghouse ready to evict Iranian banks
(AP) BRUSSELS - A financial clearinghouse used by virtually every country and major corporation in the world agreed Friday to shut out Iran from its respected network, an unprecedented escalation of global economic pressure to halt Iran’s suspected drive for nuclear weapons. Quicker than a succession of slow-acting economic sanctions, expelling Iran from the banking hub could put a sudden choke hold on its oil-dependent economy. The move was made under strong pressure from the United States and the European Union, which are looking for ways to derail Iran’s nuclear program quickly without a military strike.
"If SWIFT follows through on its public commitment to ban Iranian banks, it could sever the Iranian regime’s financial lifeline," said Mark Dubowitz, an Iran sanctions expert advising the Obama administration. "It would also be a significant political embarrassment for the regime: Iran would be the first country in SWIFT’s history to be expelled from what is the financial equivalent of the United Nations."
The European Union is expected to act within weeks to effectively cut off major Iranian banks from participation in The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT. It’s a move of last resort, with risks ranging from huge inflation and financial hardship for ordinary Iranians to disruption and price increases on the world oil market. Iran could also retaliate in unpredictable ways.
Some U.S. lawmakers are pushing for sanctions on SWIFT itself if it were to keep up its services to Iran. SWIFT lawyers were coming to Washington next week for meetings with Congress, and Friday’s announcement was widely seen as a way to head off that action.
The Obama administration wants to see Iran barred from using the financial pass-through, which is used by virtually every nation in the world and overseen by major central banks, but it has no direct leverage over SWIFT. Washington was keen to see Europe act first, or to have SWIFT act on its own.
SWIFT said Friday that it stands ready to stop services to sanctioned Iranian financial institutions once it has clarity on what new rules will require.
There are potential avenues for Iran to go around the expected cutoff, but they would be difficult, costly and time-consuming. More than 40 Iranian banks and institutions use SWIFT to process financial transactions, but not all are under European Union sanctions. The new move involving SWIFT is expected to apply first to banks already under sanction.
SWIFT, as a European entity, must comply with EU regulations.
It unclear whether the SWIFT ban would apply only to new transactions with overseas buyers or whether it would prevent payment on existing oil contracts that go through sanctioned Iranian banks. Also uncertain was whether the powerful Central Bank of Iran would be covered at the outset.
Mission impossible? U.S. wants sanctions to hurt only Iran
WASHINGTON: U.S. President Barack Obama hopes the toughest sanctions ever imposed on Iran will squeeze its oil exports – all without scaring markets, crimping growth, impoverishing ordinary Iranians or antagonizing allies.
The geopolitical equivalent of threading a needle is made even more difficult by elections in both the United States and Iran.
Obama’s goal, persuading Iran to curb its nuclear program, seems far from assured.
In recent weeks, United States officials have crisscrossed the globe to meet allies such as Japan and South Korea that rely heavily on Iranian oil and are worried that the new law may hurt their economies.
The U.S. also wants to fend off any dramatic spike in oil prices that could hurt its own economy, the top issue for voters who will decide whether Obama is re-elected in November.
U.S. officials say their talks have been productive so far and stress they are not looking to make enemies of their friends, and so will implement the sanctions with care.
“There is flexibility on the sanctions, countries will make their own financial decisions and the United States will work with them,” Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the U.S. Treasury, said in an interview.
“The goal here is not to punish any individual country, the goal is to target Iran,” he said.
The new law gives Obama the ability to cut off foreign banks, including central banks, from the U.S. financial system if they conduct petroleum-related transactions with Iran’s central bank, the main clearing house for its oil exports.
Yet even before the new sanctions go into effect, evidence is mounting that Western pressure may be hitting some of the wrong targets.
Shipments of grain to Iran – exempt from the sanctions like other humanitarian goods – have been held up because of financial restrictions on Iranian banks that would be handling the transactions.
If previous sanctions efforts elsewhere are any guide, Iran’s elites will find ways to insulate themselves from economic pain imposed from outside.
The director of Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, told Congress Thursday that despite increased pressure on Iran, “Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandoning its nuclear program.”
Still, the sanctions are clearly having some impact.
Iran – which denies Western charges that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons – this week offered what it called “new initiatives” for nuclear talks with world powers. The move was widely seen as a response to mounting economic pain.
In Iran, the riyal currency has weakened sharply to about 20,000 to the U.S. dollar on the black market from about 13,000 before Obama signed the law on Dec. 31, 2011.
“The precipitous drop in the value of the riyal as well as their inability to responsibly manage their economy is the best evidence of the effectiveness of sanctions,” Glaser said.
“Isolating Iran’s central bank from the international financial system will make it difficult for Iran to manage its economy. That, over time, is going to be as important as directly impacting Iran’s oil revenue,” he said.
The United States has not set a specific target, saying only that it wants to see a “significant” reduction in Iran’s oil exports, deliberately leaving that term vague to preserve some latitude.
Analysts say a 20-25 percent reduction in Iran’s oil revenue would show sanctions biting, but some senators say significant means an 18 percent reduction in total payments to Iran for oil.
“I think it is a success if there is a 25 percent reduction in Iranian revenue or exports,” said Frank Verrastro, director of the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Facing rising prices for staples such as meat, bread and rice, many Iranians are withdrawing savings to buy increasingly scarce hard currency to preserve their purchasing power as the riyal plummets.
“I think psychology has started to take over, started to take hold perhaps more than is warranted,” said Ken Katzman, a Middle East specialist at the Congressional Research Service. “It’s almost irrelevant whether these fears are unfounded or not because they are creating an economic reality with the fear.”
The new U.S. sanctions go into effect for nonpetroleum transactions with the Iranian central bank on Feb. 29 and for oil-related transactions on June 28. That is aimed at giving Iran’s oil customers – China, the European Union, Japan, India, South Korea and Turkey top the list – time to adapt, and to avoid whipping up oil prices.
“The United States continues to talk to buyers of Iranian oil about their energy needs and alternate sources with the goal being a significant, steady reduction in oil purchases from Iran over time, but it won’t happen all at once,” Glaser said.
“We need to understand what’s in the realm of the possible, and it is unrealistic to apply one standard to all countries. This is going to have to be done on a case-by-case basis.”
Glaser spoke with Reuters before traveling to Oman, Qatar and Russia last week to discuss the sanctions and other issues.
Verrastro, a former energy official, said while the U.S. administration wants sanctions to have a meaningful impact, it may tolerate some “leakage” if it keeps oil markets calm. “I think they want some leakage, because they are also trying to mitigate huge price spikes. So it doesn’t have to be 100 percent effective,” he said.
The United States is hoping that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other oil producers will help fill the gap created by restrictions on Iranian oil.
But the long phasing-in of the U.S. sanctions gives Iran time to devise strategies for evading them and Iran is considered adept at subterfuge to reroute its trade. “If you target one bank they’ll try to use another untargeted bank,” said Glaser.
Similarly, Reuters reported this week how the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, while blacklisted by the United Nations, continues to move cargo using a web of shell companies and diverse ownership.
But trying to evade sanctions raises the cost of doing business for Iran, U.S. officials say.
And Tehran faces a much more united front than it has before. For years, Germany and other leading members of the European Union were slow to heed U.S. calls for tougher sanctions on Iran. Now, the EU has decided to cut off imports of Iranian oil by midyear.
Diplomats said Europeans overcame their historical resistance to imposing harsh sanctions on Iran because of a belief that Obama genuinely pursued diplomacy when he first came into office, the reality that talks have led nowhere and the fear that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear sites.
“The Europeans could no longer just continue to say ‘Oh we have to give diplomacy a chance here,’” said a diplomat from one of the major powers seeking to negotiate with Iran.
“If we are serious about stopping them from getting a nuclear weapons program – and I think everybody is – this was inevitably where it was going to go,” he said.
Still, a Western diplomat said he expected no major movement on the nuclear issue from Iran either before or directly after its parliamentary elections next month, saying there was “paralysis in Tehran” caused by jockeying for power.
An American expert on Iran said the White House might prefer no negotiations this year because Obama’s political opponents could criticize the president as soft on Tehran for holding talks, especially if discussions faltered.
An unstated goal of the new sanctions is to demonstrate to Israel and the U.S. Congress that Obama is serious about putting pressure on Tehran, in an effort to persuade Israel not to strike Iran’s nuclear sites.
The fear of war breaking out following Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz or an Israeli airstrike has led countries to see sanctions as the lesser hardship.
“The impact of that is far greater than the Japanese, South Koreans or Greeks having to find new supplies of oil,” said Juan Zarate, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“People are willing to contemplate the costly boomerang effects and are willing to absorb them in a way that they might not have five years ago.”
But whether the sanctions prompt Iran to change course remains an open for debate.
“The great irony in all this is that the policy is working, but I don’t think it’s going to work,” said Ken Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
“The problem is that it feels like the regime doesn’t care. The regime is willing to absorb all of this damage,” Pollack said.
“They may simply be impervious.”
Wean from Iranian crude, US tells India, Pakistan
Washington: Washington has said it was talking to India, Pakistan, Russia, and China about what they can do to "wean themselves" from Iranian crude as the US imposed new sanctions against Tehran.
"We are engaged in conversations with all of these governments with regard to the importance of implementing existing international sanctions, national sanctions," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Friday when asked about several countries still doing business with Iran.
It was also talking to them about "doing what they can to increase sanctions, particularly to wean themselves from Iranian crude. So this is a process, it's still going on", she said.
But as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday, "We do assess that the pressure, economic and diplomatic, on Iran is beginning to pinch. And you see the fruit of that, and the fact that we - after many months, have Iran suggesting that we go back to the table", Nuland said.
Asked about Pakistan saying that it is going ahead with the construction of the gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan, she said: "We have issues of concern and we've been very clear about those with the government of Pakistan."
"We think it's a bad idea; we've made that clear. But I'm not going to predict where this might go."...
And here comes Pakistan:
We will make Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline: Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani
KARACHI: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani asserted on Saturday that Pakistan will make the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, while speaking to the media in Karachi.
Pakistan is currently facing mounting pressure from the US to shelve the Iran pipeline project, while Pakistan and Iran have already signed a sovereign-guarantee agreement on the project.
The prime minister said that a rise in oil prices in Pakistan was due to a rise in the international prices and the global recession, and gave his assurance that the Speaker had formed a committee on the issue and will hold talks with the finance minister.
Premier Gilani also commented on the US Congressman’s resolution in the House on the Balochistan issue, and said that it was against the sovereignty of the country. “We strongly condemn the US Congressman’s move,” he said.
In view of the on-going trilateral meeting between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, Gilani said that it was “extremely important” for the stability of the region that all the neighbouring countries were in a good relationship with each other.
“We want to have good relations with all our neighbours, be it China, Afghanistan, Iran or India,” he added.
Pakistani president pledges support for Iran against foreign aggression
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari pledged support for Iran if it is invaded by foreign forces, reported local media Geo on Friday.
The privately-owned local Urdu TV channel quoted unidentified sources as saying that the Pakistani president made the pledge during his meeting with the visiting Iranian president who arrived here on Thursday for a two-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran trilateral summit.
The report said that the Pakistani president told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Pakistan will not provide base to the United States if it intends to attack Iran and it will support Iran against any foreign aggression.
The report did not mention at what occasion the Pakistani president said this to the Iranian president.
Oil Rises to Nine-Month High as Iran Bars Inspectors From Base
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Oil rose to a nine-month high as International Atomic Energy Agency officials were denied access to an Iranian military base and said negotiations over the country’s nuclear program “couldn’t finalize a way forward.”
Futures climbed for a fifth day after the IAEA, the United Nations’ nuclear body, said Iran, OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, refused inspectors permission to visit the Parchin base during two days of talks that ended yesterday. Crude fell 0.6 percent earlier on reports that manufacturing activity slowed in Europe and China, signs fuel demand may decline.
“We’re just watching the Iranian story play out,” said Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York. “What occurs in the market will depend on the developments there.”
Crude for April delivery increased 3 cents to $106.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since May 4. Futures have gained 14 percent in the past year.
Prices fell after the American Petroleum Institute reported oil inventories rose 3.55 million barrels to a four-month high of 341.4 million last week. The April contract dropped 23 cents to $106.02 a barrel at 4:32 p.m. in electronic trading.
Brent oil for April settlement climbed $1.24, or 1 percent, to end the session at $122.90 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was the highest close since May 2.
The European benchmark settled at a $16.62-a-barrel premium to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate oil. The spread was $1.21 wider than yesterday.
Israel and the U.S. have said all options are on the table in ensuring the Persian Gulf nation doesn’t acquire atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for energy.
An Iranian general, Mohammad Hejazi, said his nation would consider pre-emptive action when threatened, Fars news agency reported yesterday.
Speculation that oil supplies will be disrupted has increased as tension between Iran and Western nations escalates, David Greely, head of energy research at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York, said in a report today. The bank maintained a recommendation that investors buy Brent contracts for July 2012 to take advantage of rising prices.
Iran said earlier this week that it stopped selling crude to France and Britain in a move designed to pre-empt European sanctions. The European Union on Jan. 23 agreed to ban crude imports from Iran starting July 1 to pressure the country over its nuclear program.
“The biggest driver of the market recently has been fear about Iran,” said Tom Bentz, a director with BNP Paribas Prime Brokerage Inc. in New York. “There’s anxiety about what the latest sanctions will mean and what retaliation will take place. All of this keeps prices inflated.”
Iran pumped 3.55 million barrels a day of oil in January, according to a Bloomberg News survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Its output trailed only Saudi Arabia among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
It might be time to protect profits on the oil trade
U.S. weighs release of oil reserves, world frets about Iran
(Reuters) - The United States is considering a release from its strategic oil reserves, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Friday, acknowledging the harm that supply disruptions from Iran could have on the global economy.
Rising tensions between Iran and the West over its disputed nuclear program have fueled a rise in oil prices, pushing benchmark Brent crude above $125 a barrel on Friday.
"There is a case for the use of the reserve in some circumstances and we will continue to look at those and evaluate that carefully," Geithner said on CNBC television.
"Obviously Iran can do a lot of damage to the global economy," Geithner said. "We are working very carefully to try to minimize that risk, make sure there are alternative sources of supply from Saudi Arabia and others to help compensate for reduced exports from Iran."
Brent pushes above $125 on Iran tensions
* Iran tensions, supply concerns support oil
* Saudi ups exports in past week
* Brent, U.S. crude RSI in overbought territory
* Coming up: CFTC positions data 3:30 p.m. EST Friday (Recasts, updates prices, market activity)
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Brent crude prices pushed above $125 a barrel on Friday and headed for a fifth straight weekly gain on heightened concerns over tensions with Iran and cuts in supply.
News that Iran has sharply stepped up its controversial uranium enrichment efforts, in a report from the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency, pushed both Brent and U.S. crude to intraday peaks.
"The IAEA report caused this pop up," said Dan Flynn, analyst at PFGBest Research in Chicago.
Brent April crude rose $1.63 to $125.25 by 1:11 p.m. EST (1811 GMT), having reached $125.32, the highest intraday price since May 2.
U.S. April crude rose $1.47 to $109.30, having hit a high of $109.36, and up a seventh straight session, the longest string of gains since a 10-day stretch starting in late December 2009 and extending into January 2010.
Oil markets had already been reacting to fears about supply from Iran after Tehran said on Sunday it has stopped selling crude to British and French companies.
Other European buyers have cut back on purchases from Iran ahead of a European Union embargo on imports of Iran's oil effective July 1 and some of Iran's biggest customers in Asia including China have also reduced purchases.
"The supportive factors are on the supply side - Iran and Iran and Iran, with a bit of Syria and Sudan," said Christopher Bellew, a broker at Jefferies Bache in London. "It would not be at these numbers if it was not for the supply-side problems."
Saudi Arabia increased exports sharply in the past week and was offering extra supplies to its biggest customers worldwide in what industry sources said appeared to be a bid to tame rising crude prices.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said there was a case to tap the nation's strategic petroleum reserve in some circumstances.
Last summer, the Obama administration joined other Western nations to release a total of 60 million barrels of oil in response to supply disruptions in Libya.
Crude futures' recent rally has pushed a closely watched technical indicator, the relative strength index, above 70 for both Brent and U.S. crude. A reading above 70 is considered a signal of an overbought condition by technical traders, and a possible headwind for the current rally.
Brent's premium to U.S. crude CL-LCO1=R weakened to below $15 a barrel intraday, but recovered back to near $16.
Inventories at Cushing, the delivery point for the U.S. light sweet crude contract, fell last week. The Brent/U.S. crude spread had widened to more than $20 earlier in the month on rising stocks in the U.S. Midwest.
Crude trading volumes were tepid, with Brent turnover 32 percent and U.S. volume 35 percent under their respective 30-day averages just after the noon hour in New York.
It has been roughly three months now since I suggested protecting profits on oil longs on 2-24: see here http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...=1#post4214413 and here http://www.pmbug.com/forum/f13/pms-r....html#post4822 WTI oil was at $109 back then and guess what: I picked the top almost perfectly :D Now WTI is trading at $82.93 and is massively oversold. This is the first reason to buy (chart is as of yesterday)
The second reason to buy is Syria which is increasingly under pressure from the US and it's European cheerleaders This emerging massacre theme smells fishy to me, like Libya 2.0. The only foreign obstacle for a "peacekeeping misson" (read: war) is Russia and it seems that the US and it's allies are just going to ignore them and the UN security council for that matter and will impose a "no fly zone" (read: assisting regime change by radical islamist rebels) under the NATO banner. Another obstacle is the US election, but it seems that the people running US foreign policy aren't caring about it. This would push oil prices higher: Not because Syria is a large producer, but because it is close allies with Iran and geopolitical tensions woulb be increasing therefore.
The third reason to buy are renewed QE3 speculations, as demonstrated by today's spike in gold. If QE3 comes, WTI is also going to surge because the USD weakens.
Conclusion: watch out for WTI, I'm opening a paper long now.
I think two things have helped push oil prices lower- one is that the global economy is still weak and in many places (including the US now) weakening (the US basically went flatline as far as creating or losing jobs last month and Europe continues to decline) further. This will mean lower future demand for oil unless things turn around and pick up again. The Iran situation has for now stabilized with little change there which has also eased some speculation.
Iran's presstv reports a 20 billion USD investment in the Iranian oil industry by China.
That's a giant middle finger to the US and it's allies. The clever Chinese just waited until the Iranians were really desperate due to all the sanctions and then they picked up the bargains.
China to invest USD 20bn to develop two Iranian oil fields: Qasemi
Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi says China has agreed to invest USD20 billion in developing north and south Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields which will finally produce 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil.
Speaking to reporters in a visit to the Petropars Company on Sunday, the oil minister said the agreement for developing Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields has been reached after 10-15 years of negotiations with the Chinese side. He added that the Chinese side has started its activities by investing USD20 billion dollars in the oil fields.
“So far more than 20 drilling rigs have been installed in Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields and plans have been made for the daily production of 700,000 bpd of crude oil [when development of both fields is complete],” Qasemi stated.
The minister said contracts have been signed for the development of 12 new oil fields in the past few months, adding, “Development of some fields, including Azar and Changouleh oil fields has also begun.”
Qasemi said necessary measures have been taken for the development of Darkhoein and Mansouri onshore oil fields as well as offshore fields such as Farzad A.
Yadavaran oil field is located in the southwestern Khuzestan Province bordering Iraq. The development project of the oil field is expected to be implemented in three phases. Upon the completion of all phases, some 300,000 barrels of oil are expected to be pumped out on a daily basis.
Azadegan oil field has one of the world’s largest oil deposits, with in-place oil reserves estimated at 42 billion barrels.
Iran holds the world's third-largest proven oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves.
The country's total in-place oil reserves have been estimated at more than 560 billion barrels, with about 140 billion barrels of extractable oil. Moreover, heavy and extra heavy varieties of crude oil account for roughly 70-100 billion barrels of the total reserves.
China has been persuing long term goals and trying to secure rights and access to resources it thinks it will be needing to help their economy continue to grow. This is a key part of their national security strategy- not military power but economic power.
As for the Azadegan oil field, it is reported that while it may have an estimated 42 billion barrels in- place, only about 5.2 billion are presently considered recoverable (recoverable may change over time with changes in technology and the price of oil- at higher prices, some methods of extraction may or may not be worth using). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azadegan_oil_field
Back on June 1st I decided to open a long wti trade (see above). WTI was trading at 83 then, it's trading at 95 now. It's close to overbought. The Syria situation plus the weakening dollar have pushed it higher. This might continue for a while but for me it's time to protect profits. I'm putting in a stop at 93.
I haven't posted in this thread since early July now. And oil never climbed above 100 $ again and now it's trading at 90.
BUT something very interesting happened during the last few days:
1. The Tel Aviv stock index crashed and diverged heavily from the S&P 500. (remember Israel doesn't close markets for Christmas)
2. Oil massively outperformed stocks, bonds and other commodities today by rising 2.75%:
3. Iran is planning a naval drill in the straight of Hormuz, beginning tomorrow:
Iran will begin six days of naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz at the end of this week, an Iranian naval commander said on Tuesday, an exercise meant to showcase its military capabilities in what is a vital oil and gas shipping route.
The "Velayat 91" drills will be held from Friday to Wednesday across an area of about 1 million square kilometres in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, said Habibollah Sayyari, according to Iranian media.
Iranian officials have often said that Iran could block the strait - through which 40 percent of the world's sea-borne oil exports pass - if it came under military attack over its disputed nuclear programme.
Sayyari was quoted as saying the new drill would test the navy's missile systems, combat ships, submarines and patrol and reconnaissance methods.
"In this exercise we will use the navy's newest weapons and tactics," Sayyari said. "Certainly we will observe the marine borders of neighbouring states and will carry out our exercises according to international laws and regulations."
A heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf is meant to deter any attempt to block the waterway.
Combine these facts and things are smelling very fishy...
Maybe we're up for a geopolitical black swan.