Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Photo by: Tomer Appelbaum
Related: Netanyahu: We will strike those who threaten to attack Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that international sanctions were hurting Iran’s economy but not enough to persuade it to curb its nuclear ambitions even slightly.
“The Iranian government … is having economic troubles but it has yet to move backward, even a millimeter, in its nuclear program,” Netanyahu told a news conference he called to mark his right-wing government’s third anniversary in power.
US State Dept.
The State Department announced on Tuesday that it would exempt 10 European countries and Japan from penalties for doing business with Iran’s central bank, because those countries are making significant progress toward weaning themselves off of Iranian oil.
Chicago Tribune… 09/25/2004
U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama suggested Friday that the United States one day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to keep extremists from getting control of nuclear bombs.
Obama, a Democratic state senator from the Hyde Park neighborhood, made the remarks during a meeting Friday with the Tribune editorial board. Obama’s Republican opponent, Alan Keyes, was invited to attend the same session but declined.
Related: It’s Official – US, UK To Release Strategic Oil Stocks
Update: as we hit print, we see headlines that the UK will cooperate with the US on bilateral agreement to release oil stocks. Crude down big on the news, which is merely an advance move ahead of almost inevitable war with Iran, simply to make the spike more palatable.
The push to get Iran to do something terminally irrational (now that USS Enterprise in its final tour of duty is almost on location just off the side of CVN-70 Lincoln and CVN-72 Vinson in the Arabian Sea, where the US will shortly have not one, not two, but three aircraft carriers) is now in its final stretch. As AP reported earlier, Iran has been now entirely cut off from the global financial system, as that anchor of international financial transactions, SWIFT, has just taken Iran off the grid. This leaves Iran with just three options for international trade: making gold into a fully convertible currency, barter, or exchanging Rials for Renminbi and other local currencies.
On February 29, Secretary of State Clinton assured the House Foreign Affairs Committee — in absolute terms, three separate times – the Obama administration’s policy was not simply to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but a nuclear weapons capability. She assured Howard Berman (D-CA) “it’s absolutely clear that the president’s policy is to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons capability.” She reiterated the policy to Eliot Engel (D-NY), and reiterated it again to Gary Ackerman (D-NY).
The “absolutely clear” policy lasted until the White House could get a hold of the New York Times. On March 2, unnamed “administration officials” told the New York Times that Clinton had “misspoken.”
Much has been made of today’s Reuters story how “Iran turns to barter for food as sanctions cripple imports” in which we learn that “Iran is turning to barter – offering gold bullion in overseas vaults or tankerloads of oil – in return for food”, and whose purpose no doubt is to demonstrate just how crippled the Iranian economy is as a result of the ongoing US embargo. Incidentally this story is 100% the opposite of the Debka-spun groundless disinformation from a few weeks ago that India was preparing to pay for Iran’s oil in gold (they got the asset right, but the flow of funds direction hopelessly wrong). While there is certainly truth to the fact that the US is actively seeking to destabilize the local government, we wonder why? After all as the opportunity cost for the existing regime to do something drastic gets ever lower as the popular resentment rises, leaving the local administration with few options but to engage either the US or Israel. Unless of course, this is the ultimate goal. Yet going back to the Reuters story, it would be quite dramatic, if only it was not the case that Iran has been laying the groundwork for a barter economy for many months now, something which various other analysts perceive as the basis for the destruction of the petrodollar system. Perhaps regular readers will recall that back in July, we wrote an article titled “China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System.” Specifically, we wrote that “according to the FT, China has decided to commence a barter system in which Iranian oil is exchanged directly for Chinese exports. The net result: not only a slap for the US Dollar, but implicitly for all fiat intermediaries, as Iran and China are about to prove that when it comes to exchanging hard resources for critical Chinese goods and services, the world’s so called reserve currency is completely irrelevant.” Seen in this light the fact that Iran is actually proceeding with a barter system, something that had been in the works for quite a while, actually puts the Reuters story in a totally different light: instead of one predicting the imminent demise of the Iranian economy, the conclusion is inverted, and underscores the culmination of what may have been an extended barter preparation period, has finally gone from beta to (pardon the pun) gold, and Iran is now successfully engaging in global trade without the use of the historical reserve currency.
The United States on Thursday announced sanctions on Iran‘s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), which it accused of supporting terrorism, abusing the human rights of Iranian citizens and supporting the Syrian government’s crackdown.
“Today we have designated the MOIS for abusing the basic rights of Iranian citizens and exporting its vicious practices to support the Syrian regime’s abhorrent crackdown on its own population,” David Cohen, the US Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
MOIS also provides support for al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in Iraq, Hezbollah and Hamas, “exposing the extent of Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism as a matter of Iranian state policy,” Cohen said.
Iran has repeatedly violated a UN arms embargo with exports to protest-hit Syria, the French foreign ministry said on Monday, citing a UN group of experts.
“The UN panel of experts on Iran has identified and informed the Security Council of several violations of the embargo on arms to or from Iran set up by… the United Nations Security Council,” said spokesman Romain Nadal.
From Financial Times…
How close is the west getting to all-out conflict with Iran? As 2012 gets under way, the question is right at the top of the international security agenda. Hardly a day goes by without some striking news from the region – be it Iran’s decision to enrich uranium at a new underground site; or the unexplained killing of another Iranian nuclear scientist; or Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.
UPDATE: Oil Sub $100.
And so the escalation ends, if only for the time being, as Iran chalks a (Pyrrhic?) victory.
- EU IRAN OIL EMBARGO SAID TO BE LIKELY DELAYED BY SIX MONTHS
Why? Because the world slowly realized that the potential surge in oil prices would tip a world already on the verge of a recession even deeper into economic contraction. Not rocket science, but certainly something the US president apparently has been unable to comprehend, especially if hoping that he would merely transfer exports from Iran to his close ally Saudi Arabia which would cement its European market monopoly even further. Or, perhaps, someone just explained to Obama that Embargo in January + QE3 in March = No Reelection…
In other news, crude is now dumping.