Save the Oil and the Wine (Revelation 6:6)

Pumpjacks pump petroleum from the ground on September 23, 2014 near Ruehlermoor, Germany. Iran’s exit from nuclear weapons treaty would pour ‘rocket fuel’ on oil market, says analyst

Oil market is ignoring the big Iran story, says strategist  


The U.S. exit from the Iran nuclear deal creates the risk that Iran will drop out of a separate 50-year-old United Nations treaty meant to stop the spread of atomic weapons, according to Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Oil prices have recently surged to 3½-year highs, fueled the U.S. nuclear deal pullout and falling output in Venezuela. However, crude prices began tumbling last week after Saudi Arabia and Russia said two dozen oil-producing nations could soon ease output caps that have been in place since January 2017.

But fears of nuclear weapons proliferation in the restive Middle East could quickly reverse that drop, according to Croft.

An Iranian official threatened last week to pull out of the U.N. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which has sought to prevent the spread of atomic weapons since 1968. Iran signed the treaty that year, but the nation’s leadership in Tehran is now in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal and restored punishing sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

“If they come to believe that the U.S. and the regional partners are pursuing regime change, I think we could get a very nasty Iranian response.” -Helima Croft, RBC Capital Markets global head of commodity strategy

“I think this is the question the market is ignoring right now. I would watch very closely the Iranian announcement to pull out of the nonproliferation treaty,” Croft told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday. “If they pull out of the NPT, that would signal that not only are the Iranians going to resume their program, they’re resuming it with a military option.”

“And then it would become, I think, an arms race in the Middle East,” she added.

In March, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country would obtain a nuclear weapon “as soon as possible” if Iran, the kingdom’s archrival, developed one. Israel, which has recently engaged in open conflict with Iran, is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons already.

Iran came under international criticism in the early 2000s and was later sanctioned for its alleged research into nuclear weapons development while ostensibly pursuing a peaceful energy program. After years of diplomacy, Iran reached a deal with six world powers that lifted the sanctions in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear program and allowing inspectors into the country.

Under the NPT, countries without nuclear weapons like Iran vow never to acquire them. The 2015 nuclear deal — negotiated with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the Obama administration — subjected Iran to extra scrutiny in order to re-establish trust with the international community.

An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the occasion of the country's annual army day on April 18, 2018, in Tehran.

Atta Kenare | AFP | Getty Images
An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the occasion of the country’s annual army day on April 18, 2018, in Tehran.

But the pressure campaign now being waged by the Trump administration could push Iran to abandon both the nuclear deal and the NPT, Croft said. The European Union is trying to preserve the 2015 deal, but America’s influence over the global financial system means many European companies may toe the U.S. line, despite the EU’s efforts to shield them from far-reaching sanctions.

Iran’s economy is already weakening, spurring protests over corruption in the banking system and other grievances. This year, Iran’s currency has collapsed, and its uncertain how Iran will respond to the added pressure from a loss of international business, said Croft.

“If they come to believe that the U.S. and the regional partners are pursuing regime change, I think we could get a very nasty Iranian response,” she said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s first major speech last week drew speculation that the administration’s policy is indeed to topple the nearly 40-year-old regime in Tehran. While Pompeo has sought to tamp down that speculation, the Iranians may not be convinced, said John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital.

“They’re like playing a game of Jenga, where you push the blocks out, because they’re hoping for the regime to tip over,” he told “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday.

“And as much as European Union officials are trying to say that they want to have a workaround against these U.S. sanctions, all the companies, the banks and the oil companies, are all in the process of pulling out and saying we’re not touching that with a 10-foot pole.”

Saudis back in control

Helima Croft talks about Saudi Arabia and Russia's impact on the oil market

Helima Croft talks about Saudi Arabia and Russia’s impact on the oil market  

Both Croft and Kilduff said Trump’s pullout has given Saudi Arabia the upper hand in the oil market. Trump essentially made a bargain to pull out of the Iran deal so long as the Saudis agreed to increase oil output to offset any price spike that resulted from the loss of Iranian crude supplies, according to Croft.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently told reporters the United States held discussions with “various parties” to pump more to offset falling Iranian exports, which could raise gasoline prices for American drivers.

“We’re back hat in hand to the Saudis saying put more barrels on the market,” Croft said.

“This is the issue, is that the U.S. cannot deal with a supply shock. We have to go back to countries that hold spare capacity. So when Venezuela potentially loses over the course of a year a million barrels, if we take off several hundred additional Iranian barrels, Saudi Arabia has to fill the gap.”

While the United States is pumping about 10.7 million barrels a day — overtaking Saudi Arabia and closing in on top producer Russia — bottlenecks in western Texas will prevent American drillers from fully compensating for lost Iranian supplies, Kilduff said.

“If there’s one thing this episode should tell us all, we are not the swing producer. Saudi Arabia is,” he said. “They’re more in control now than I’ve ever seen.”

The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)



Updated | An earthquake is long overdue to hit New York and America isn’t prepared, author and environmental theorist Kathryn Miles told Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s Daily Show.

Miles is the author of a new book, Quakeland, which investigates how imminently an earthquake is expected in the U.S. and how well-prepared the country is to handle it. The answer to those questions: Very soon and not very well.

“We know it will, that’s inevitable, but we don’t know when,” said Miles when asked when to expect another earthquake in the U.S.

She warned that New York is in serious danger of being the site of the next one, surprising considering that the West Coast sits along the San Andreas fault line.

“New York is 40 years overdue for a significant earthquake…Memphis, Seattle, Washington D.C.—it’s a national problem,” said Miles.

Miles told Noah that though the U.S. is “really good at responding to natural disasters,” like the rapid response to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the country and its government is, in fact, lagging behind in its ability to safeguard citizens before an earthquake hits.

“We’re really bad at the preparedness side,” Miles responded when Noah asked how the infrastructure in the U.S. compares to Mexico’s national warning system, for example.

“Whether it’s the literal infrastructure, like our roads and bridges, or the metaphoric infrastructure, like forecasting, prediction, early warning systems. Historically, we’ve underfunded those and as a result we’re way behind even developing nations on those fronts.”

Part of the problem, Miles says, is that President Donald Trump and his White House are not concerned with warning systems that could prevent the devastation of natural disasters.

“We can invest in an early warning system. That’s one thing we can definitely do. We can invest in better infrastructures, so that when the quake happens, the damage is less,” said the author.

“The scientists, the emergency managers, they have great plans in place. We have the technology for an early warning system, we have the technology for tsunami monitoring. But we don’t have a president that is currently interested in funding that, and that’s a problem.”

This article has been updated to reflect that Miles said New York is the possible site of an upcoming earthquake, and not the likeliest place to be next hit by one.

The Art of the Deal – Part 4

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his entourage including Kim Yong Chol, left, at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone on April 27.Trump Confirms North Korean Official Is Headed To New York To Discuss Nuclear Summit

The Trump administration said preparations for the summit are moving ahead after it was abruptly canceled last week.

President Donald Trump confirmed on Tuesday that Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, was on his way to New York to discuss a proposed nuclear summit between the countries.

Kim plans to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sometime this week, according to the White House.

Trump canceled the summit, set to take place on June 12 in Singapore, on Thursday, citing “the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed” in a statement North Korea had released that attacked the U.S. Trump changed his tune a day later, hinting the summit could still take place.

“We’re talking to them now,” he said Friday. “They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it.”

American and North Korean officials have been conducting a series of meetings that were ongoing as of Tuesday, the White House confirmed, adding that a team is already in Singapore preparing for the summit.

Kim will be the highest-level North Korean official to step foot in the country since 2000. Currently in charge of inter-Korean relations, he was the longtime head of North Korea’s intelligence agency, making him one of leader Kim Jong Un’s most trusted advisers.

South Korea blamed him for the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean military ship, in 2010, which killed 46 South Koreans.

He attended the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics earlier this year as part of the North Korean delegation and was photographed sitting next to White House adviser Ivanka Trump, the president’s oldest daughter, during the opening ceremony.

This story has been updated with details about Kim.

Ivanka Trump and Kim Yong Chol of the North Korea delegation attend the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics o

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Ivanka Trump and Kim Yong Chol of the North Korea delegation attend the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Feb. 25.

Antichrist Rejects Help from Babylon the Great

Workers assemble a portrait of Muqtada al-Sadr at a printing shop in Sadr city. Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Muqtada al-Sadr, the kingmaker in Iraqi politics, outright rejected US influence in the formation of the government, but took a more lenient approach to Iran.

Sadr, who is an influential Shiite cleric and frequently answers queries posed to him from individual Iraqis about religious, political, and cultural affairs, was asked how he responds to some statements that the Iraqi government cannot be formed without the assent of Tehran and Washington.

“America is an occupying country. We absolutely won’t allow it to intervene,” Sadr replied in a tweet.

With respect to Iran, he noted that as a neighbor, it has regional interests.

“Iran is a neighboring country concerned for its interests. We hope it doesn’t intervene in Iraqi affairs and we reject anyone interfering in its affairs,” he stated.

In the week after the election, Sadr met with ambassadors of all of Iraq’s neighbours – Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait – except for Iran.

Sadr previously led the Mahdi Army that fought against US forces in the 2000’s, killing tens of US soldiers. He disbanded the group later, forming the Peace Brigades militia in 2014.

In the May 12 parliamentary election, he adopted a reform-minded, secular approach, forming an alliance with Iraq’s communist party. He is opposed to any external influence in Baghdad.

Sadr’s alliance topped the polls, though no single list gained a strong minority. Party leaders have held a flurry of meetings in the weeks after the vote as they negotiate formation of the next government.

Iran’s powerful general Qassem Soleimani and the US’ special envoy to the war on ISIS Brett McGurk both visited Iraq after the election, meeting with political parties.

The US has made contact with Sadr’s team through back channels.

“They asked what the position of the Sadrist movement will be when they come to power. Are they going to reinvent or invoke the Mahdi Army or reemploy them? Are they going to attack American forces in Iraq,” Dhiaa al-Asadi, a top aide to Sadr, told Reuters.

Sadr stressed that the snippets of information coming out on Twitter are not a comprehensive look at the government-in-formation.

“Yes states can’t be built and governments can’t be formed through Twitter or tweets. These are only glimmers I transmit to the Iraqi people,” he tweeted in answer to another query.

Antichrist Rejects Foreign Influence (Revelation 13)

Muqtada al-Sadr  (Twitter)

Muqtada al-Sadr Rejects Iran and U.S. Meddling in Formation of Iraqi Govt