After yesterday US officials reported that Iran conducted a nuclear ballistic missile test on Sunday, which some claimed would be another violation of the UN resolution and Obama’s nuclear deal, on Wednesday Iran’s defense minister admitted that the Islamic Republic had indeed tested a new missile, but added the test did not breach Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.
Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but this is the first during U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump said in his election campaign that he would stop Iran’s missile program. Furthermore, the confirmed launch comes at a precarious time, with president Trump seemingly looking for excuses to scrap the Iran deal, which could potentially lead to the reestablishment of Iran sanctions and the halt of Iranian oil exports to global markets, taking away as much as 1 million barrels of daily supply.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran has shown commitment to its end of the nuclear deal struck last year while visiting Tehran December 18.
Iran has complained about the US extending a sanctions package for another decade. The US says these sanctions are unrelated to the deal; Iran disagrees.
“We are satisfied with the implementation of the [nuclear agreement] and hope that this process will continue,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told the press in the Iranian capital, Reuters reports, citing the IRNA news agency.
“Iran has been committed to its engagement so far and this is important,” he said. Amano was in Tehran to meet head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi. After the White House said earlier this week that the sanctions bill would become law even without President Barack Obama’s signature, Iran requested a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commission to discuss the situation and ordered its scientists to start developing nuclear systems to power ships. Salehi presented the maritime nuclear propulsion project to Amano and said the country would provide more details on it in three months, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The initial outline did include what is so far the most controversial issue of the project: the level of uranium-enrichment powering the ships will require.
The US decision to extend 1979 sanctions against Iran for another 10 years violates the nuclear deal struck by Iran with international powers, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.
“The path that the US has taken in regard to Iran will lead to a considerable drop in international trust in the American government,” Rouhani was quoted as saying at a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano by Mehr news agency.
He stressed that it was highly significant for all parties to the deal to comply with their commitments, arguing that the US recent decision to prolong Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years clearly violated the Iran nuclear deal.
On July 14, 2015, Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom plus Germany — signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), ensuring the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program in return for the gradual sanctions relief. The US sanctions introduced against Tehran in 1979, however, were not mentioned in the document.
The global oil market will move into deficit as soon as the first half of 2017 if Opec and countries outside the cartel successfully execute the global supply pact agreed in recent days.
The International Energy Agency, the Paris-based global energy advisory body, said in its monthly report that the planned output cuts could lead to demand outstripping supply by as much as 600,000 barrels a day.
“If Opec promptly and fully sticks to its production target, assessed at 32.7m b/d, and non-OPEC producers deliver the agreed cuts of 558,000 b/d outlined on 10 December, then the market is likely to move into deficit in the first half of 2017 by an estimated 0.6 mb/d.”
The IEA’s closely watched monthly report is the first major assessment of the oil market’s supply demand balance since Opec first agreed to reduce production on November 30.
Previously the agency had forecast the oil market would not move into deficit until the second half of 2017 at the earliest, with the prospect of the market remaining in surplus for a fourth straight year.
Addressing the Petroleum Ministry officials, Kardor said that Iran was able to maintain its 14 percent quota in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to the IRNA news agency.
The official also announced further increase of oil production. “Our oil production capacity should reach 5.2 or 5.7 million bpd,” Kardor said. Iran has been re-entering the global oil market after in January the European Union, the United Nations, and partially the United States lifted their sanctions against the Islamic Republic after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement reached in July 2015.
According to ISNA, the cards will be issued with the credit limits of $3,000, $10,000 and $15,000. It will be possible to use them both for purchases in stores and online.
“It would be wrong to think that these cards will be quickly adopted by the banking network,” the agency quoted Seif as saying.
The credit cards are set to be issued in the number depending on applications received by the banks.
The Central Bank’s decision comes after in January, the European Union, the United Nations, and partially the United States lifted their sanctions against the Islamic republic after the International Atomic Energy Agency verified Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement reached in July 2015. The lifting of the sanctions cleared the way for Iran to bolster its oil production and economy.
While the media has been mostly obsessing over the recently leaked Colin Powell emails that discuss either Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, or Donald Trump, a just as important, from a geopolitical perspective, email was revealed by the DCLeaks website, in which the former Secretary of State admits that Israel as 200 nuclear weapons “all targeted” at Iran, so Iran can’t use one even if “they finally make one.” Powell’s assessment of Iran’s nuclear capacity comes two weeks after it was revealed that the Obama administration had granted Iran “Secret” nuclear deal exemptions, despite claiming otherwise.
More importantly, however, the email to Jeffrey Leeds, Powell’s business associate and major Democratic donor, finally provided the admission that Israel had nuclear weapons, something the biggest US ally in the Middle East has carefully avoided confirming or denying for years, in a policy dubbed “nuclear ambiguity.”
In the Leeds email dated March 3, 2015, Powell writes that “Iranians can’t use [a nuke] if they finally make one,” in the context of the ongoing talks about Tehran’s nuclear program. “The boys in Tehran know Israel has 200, all targeted on Tehran, and we have thousands. As [Iranian President Mahmoudin Ahmedinejad said], ‘What would we do with one, polish it?’ I have spoken publicly about both [North Korea] and Iran. We’ll blow up the only thing they care about—regime survival. Where, how would they even test one?”
The email was sent shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just visited Washington amid deteriorating relations with the Obama administration, and had given a fiery speech before Congress denouncing the proposed deal under which Iran would consent to invasive inspections in exchange for lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions. The deal was finalized in July 2015, despite much ongoing criticism by both Republicans and Donald Trump who has threatened to undo the deal if elected president.
There is another reason why Powell’s email is troubling: a 1976 amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act bans any US economic and military aid to countries that deliver, receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology without abiding by the NPT. Israel is one of the few countries that did not sign the NPT, along with self-admitted nuclear powers India and Pakistan.
When asked by RT for a comment, US State Department spokesman John Kirby declined to answer whether Israel should face the same treatment as Iran and North Korea – both of which have been sanctioned for alleged or actual violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The leak comes days after US officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding according to which a record $38 billion in military assistance would be provided to Israel over the next decade, with Israelis pledging to spend nearly all of it on US weapons and training.
it is unclear if Powell’s email is the definitive answer of how many nukes Israel has: according to a 2014 report by the Federation of American Scientists, Israel is believed to possess anywhere between 80 and 400 nuclear weapons, with the lower figure considered more likely. Powell’s words carry considerable weight, since he chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War and later helped make the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state.
Yesterday’s big bounce on Wall Street didn’t stick.
Stocks were deep in the red Tuesday and investors saw another day of sizable price swings after a long period of calm due in large part to a steep slide in oil prices amid a cut in crude demand and continued angst over U.S. interest rate policy.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 258 points, or 1.4%, to 18,066 after rallying nearly 240 points Monday following Friday’s nearly 400-point decline. The broad Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was also deeply in the red, falling 1.5% to 2127. The Nasdaq composite was down 1.1% to 5155.
Today’s stock market slide follows a downgrade of daily crude demand for 2016 and next year by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA lowered its demand estimates by 100,000 barrels a day this year and by roughly 200,000 daily barrels in 2017. The IEA cited “wobbling” Asian demand as one reason for slashing its forecast.
Strong demand growth and production disruptions are easing the oil glut quicker than anticipated, but supply rises outside of the Opec group will return next year, according to the world’s leading energy body.
“Less oil has been stock-piled than we originally expected,” said the International Energy Agency in its closely watched monthly oil market report published on Tuesday
The agency initially estimated the surplus of supply over demand in the first half of 2016 would be 1.5m barrels a day, but this has fallen to 800,000 b/d. It expects the oil market to reach a balance by the end of the year.
Crude oil prices hit a 2016 high above $51 a barrel in June. Oil demand growth has been “significantly” stronger than forecast, the IEA said.
The price rise was also stoked by continuing outages in Nigeria and Canada as well as a steady decline in US oil production. A weaker US dollar has also supported prices.
The rate of demand growth in the first quarter was upwardly revised by 400,000 b/d, leading the agency to increase its 2016 figure to 1.3 mb/d.
Gasoline demand strength supported the US. “Having paused for breath somewhat towards the end of 2015, the US has rediscovered its earlier vigour,” the IEA said. Other increases could be seen in Japan, Turkey and Poland.
The UN nuclear watchdog expressed concern as Pyongyang’s isolated regime escalates what many claim to be preparations for a full-scale nuclear war.
Surveillance imagery suggests that North Korea has reactivated a plutonium processing plant used for developing nuclear weapons, reported the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday, echoing recent claims by US-based think tanks.
The indications that we have obtained are of activities related to the five-megawatt reactor, expansion of enrichment facilities and activities related to plutonium reprocessing,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, during a press conference in Vienna.
“However, as we do not have inspectors on the ground we are only observing through satellite imagery. We cannot say for sure, but we have indications of certain activities through the satellite imagery,” he noted.
Specifically, the satellite imagery details vehicle movement, steam discharge, and materials transport consistent with the plutonium enrichment process. The type of plutonium used for nuclear bombs needs to be extracted from spent nuclear reactor fuel which requires substantial amounts of water to cool the radioactive fuel rods.
The development means that North Korea may be closer to stockpiling nuclear weapons than international analysts originally believed. The Yongbyon reactor was deactivated in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament agreement, but the truculent regime of Kim Jong Un moved to renovate the plant after its third nuclear test in 2013. The regime carried out a fourth test on January 6.
Director of US National Intelligence, James Clapper, warned several months ago that North Korea could recover weapons-grade plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel in “a matter of weeks to months” once the facility is placed back online.
Pyongyang has faced universal condemnation in recent months after accelerating development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems capable of reaching as far as the US mainland. In May, North Korea claimed it had successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads, a necessary step to allow a weapon to be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Western analysts say that North Korea lacks the ability to place a warhead on the US coast, and questions the precision of their short and mid-range missiles for use against South Korea and Japan.