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Iran and its pre-Nuclear woes!

Interesting Article: "Iran's nuclear aspirations help drive oil futures" by DANIELS TRADING / DC published Friday, December 2, 2011

An interesting article mentioned that anticipation about an intensifying nuclear conflict between Iran and western powers helped drive crude oil futures to their highest value in two weeks. The market is being bid up because of issues in the Middle East," chief market strategist Bill O'Grady with Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis told Bloomberg. "I wouldn't go home short over the weekend when tensions between Iran and the rest are increasing." In November, Iran pumped 3.56 million barrel of oil, according to a Bloomberg survey. So what is Iran’s nuclear path?

This week reports of a blast in the province of Isfahan, home to one of Iran’s atomic facilities, adds to a series of unexplained incidents that have raised suspicions of sabotage against the country’s nuclear program. Still, coming after the deaths of several people linked to Iran’s nuclear program, and amid increased pressure on Iran from the U.S. and its allies, which accuse the Islamic republic of seeking to develop atomic weapons, the incident has strengthened the argument that sabotage is involved. “While it’s impossible to confirm, recent events in Iran raise suspicions,” said Gala Riani, a Middle East analyst at London-based forecaster IHS Global Insight. It’s possible that “foreign powers would want to carry out clandestine activity to sabotage Iran’s nuclear and military progress,” she said. “Diplomacy doesn’t seem to work and military strikes isn’t something anyone really wants to carry out.” The central province of Isfahan hosts a nuclear fuel plant, which produces uranium pellets to feed a reactor. Iran says its efforts to develop nuclear technology are aimed at securing energy for its growing population of about 75 million. A Nov. 12 explosion at a military base west of Tehran killed at least 17 people, state media reported. The blast took place as military personnel were transporting munitions and killed Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam, director of the Revolutionary Guards’ Jihad Self-Sufficiency Organization, Fars said. Last year, malicious software known as Stuxnet affected some of the country’s computer systems and several centrifuges used in its uranium-enrichment program, Iranian officials have said. Several scientists and officials linked to the nuclear and missile programs have been the target of attacks in the last two years.  Researcher Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was shot dead outside his Tehran home in 2010. Majid Shahriari, a scientist involved in Iran’s nuclear program, died in a Tehran bombing in November that year. A second blast in the capital on the same day injured Fereydoun Abasi, a physicist who was linked to the program in a 2007 UN resolution imposing sanctions. The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran. After the 1979 revolution, the Iranian government temporarily disbanded elements of the program, and then revived it with less Western assistance than during the pre-revolution era. Iran's nuclear program has included several research sites, two uranium mines, a research reactor, and uranium processing facilities that include three known uranium enrichment plants. After delays, Iran's first nuclear power plant, Bushehr I reactor was complete with major assistance of Russian government agency RosAtom and was officially opened in a ceremony on 12 September 2011. Iran has announced that it is working on a new 360 MW nuclear power plant to be located in Darkhovin. Iran has also indicated that it will seek more medium-sized nuclear power plants and uranium mines in the future. The controversy over Iran's nuclear programs centers in particular on Iran's failure to declare sensitive enrichment and reprocessing activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Enrichment can be used to produce uranium for reactor fuel or (at higher enrichment levels) for weapons. On 9 February 2010 according to Government sources, Iran announced that it would produce uranium enriched to up to 20% to produce fuel for a research reactor used to produce medical radioisotopes, processing its existing stocks of 3.5% enriched uranium. On 17 May Iran, Brazil, and Turkey issued a joint declaration "in which Iran agreed to send low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for enriched fuel for a research reactor. The continuing controversy over Iran's nuclear program revolves in part around allegations of nuclear studies by Iran with possible military applications. The allegations, which include claims that Iran had engaged in high-explosives testing, sought to manufacture "green salt" (UF4) and to design a nuclear-capable missile warhead, were based on information obtained from a laptop computer which was allegedly retrieved from Iran in 2004. Some Israeli officials publicly characterize Iran's nuclear program as an "existential threat" to Israel, and Israeli leaders assert that all options are kept open in dealing with Tehran. The threat has been compared to the threat the Jews of Europe faced prior to the Holocaust. Israel has repeatedly warned that it will strike Iran's nuclear facilities if its nuclear program is not stopped through diplomatic channels. On 11 September 2009, Prime Minister Putin, though, opposed the use of force or further sanctions against Iran. Support for tough measures against Iran's nuclear program has fallen in 13 out of 21 Arab countries according to a new BBC World Service Poll. Let us see where this goes.

Roe, Sam (28 January 2007). "An atomic threat made in America". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
"Iran Affairs: Blasts from the Past: Western Support for Iran's Nuclear program". 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2008.
"Iran launches Bushehr nuclear power plant". RIA Novosti. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
"We Do Not Have a Nuclear Weapons Program", Javad Zarif, New York Times 6 April 2006
"Iranian Public Opinion on Governance, Nuclear Weapons and Relations with the United States, August 27, 2008".
POLITICS: Iran Nuke Laptop Data Came from Terror Group, By Gareth Porter, IPS News, 29 Feb 2008.
"''The Globe and Mail'': Iran: the enemy that almost isn't". The Globe and Mail (Canada). Retrieved 20 September 2009.
"Arab League: Israel's nuclear program more worrying than Iran, Haaretz 17/05/2009". Haaretz. Israel. Retrieved 20 September 2009.


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