SURPRISE! Iran Strikes Uranium (Daniel 8:4)

Iran suddenly discovers “unexpected” uranium reserves
Jazz Shaw, 11 hours ago

If there’s one thing better than a wonderful surprise gift, it’s the one that arrives at just the perfect time when you need it the most. That must be the feeling in Tehran this month because they’ve not only sealed a sweetheart deal with the United States regarding their nuclear program, but their glide path may have just gotten considerably smoother. One of the baseline assumptions of John Kerry’s deal – and an assumption accepted by pretty much the entire world – was that Iran was near the end of their supplies of usable quality uranium. To get more they would soon need to begin dealing with other countries for it and we could quickly discover any such transactions.. at least in theory. But now that may not be such a big deal to the Supreme Leader. Surprise! They’ve discovered some unexpected uranium reserves of their own which they should be able to start mining. (Reuters)
Iran has discovered an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium and will soon begin extracting the radioactive element at a new mine, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said on Saturday.
The comments cast doubt on previous assessments from some Western analysts who said the country had a low supply and would sooner or later would need to import uranium, the raw material needed for its nuclear program.

Any indication Iran could become more self-sufficient will be closely watched by world powers, which reached a landmark deal with Tehran in July over its program. They had feared the nuclear activities were aimed at acquiring the capability to produce atomic weapons – something denied by Tehran.

Iran has been engaged in some “aerial prospecting” to locate mineral resources. (You can read a brief overview of how that works here, but basically you can scan for radiation signatures from the air, even in heavily wooded areas. Deserts should be even easier.) This is really some amazingly fortunate timing for them, isn’t it? I mean, what are the odds? Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, is quoted as saying that up until now his projections for mining prospects “were not too optimistic” but now they are “confident about our reserves.”

Speaking of great timing, Iran has also just announced in the most reasonable of fashions that they will be allowing IAEA inspectors to be present for the collection of samples at the heavily guarded Parchin military site.

United Nations inspectors will be present with Iranian technicians as they take samples from a key military site, two Western diplomats said, undercutting an objection by U.S. Republicans to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The diplomats were familiar with details of a confidential arrangement between Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog for inspections at the Parchin site, where some countries suspect nuclear weapons-related tests may have taken place.

Doing this allows Iran to at least attempt to defuse some of the criticism of the deal since they had previously stonewalled absolutely everyone in terms of access to the site. But continuing with our theme of great timing, allow me to be a tad bit skeptical when I note how wonderful it is that they’ve made this announcement now after they had all the time they wanted to scrub the place clean. Thanks, guys.

Returning for a moment to the uranium reserves question, it shouldn’t be all that shocking that some rich reserves are left. If you look at a map of the most dense known reserves of uranium on the planet, you find them in southern Russia and Kazakhstan, spreading through the rest of the ‘stans which border on… (Ding Ding Ding!) Iran. None of them, however, come close to the density of uranium found beneath one equatorial African site which, in the distant past, was so tightly packed with the fuel that it created a naturally occurring nuclear reactor.
Ah, those Iranians. They just seem to have the luck of the Irish these days.

Save The Oil And The Wine (Revelation 6:6)

The nuclear deal is mostly about oil

The recent nuclear non-proliferation agreement between Iran and the U.S. has created a firestorm debate in the Middle East and both sides of the Atlantic. While the deal is supposedly all about nuclear power and nuclear bombs, its practical implications are all about oil. But the conclusions we should make about its impact on the energy sector are far from clear. A ratification of the deal would allow Iran to make lucrative long term production and distribution contracts with foreign energy firms. However, freely flowing oil from Iran would add significant new oil supply into the world markets, disrupt U.S. plans to become an energy exporter, and could potentially put further downward pressure on prices.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports Iran’s proven oil reserves as the fourth largest in the world, at 158 billion barrels, or about 10% of the world’s crude oil reserves. It also has the world’s second largest reserves of natural gas (Oil & Gas Journal, January 2015). But as a result of the series of sanctions laid on Iran by the United States and the United Nations for Iran’s failure to abide by nuclear inspections, which have essentially blockaded the nation, these reserves have done little good for the Iranian economy or the theocratic Muslim government that holds the country in its tight grip.

The IMF estimates that Iran’s oil and natural gas export revenue had been $118 billion as recently as 2011/12. But by 2012/2013 revenues fell by 47 percent to $63 billion. Revenues declined another 10 percent in 2013/14 to $56 billion (Islamic Republic of Iran, Country Report, April 14, 2014). By May 2015, Iran’s daily oil production had fallen from 4 million barrels in 2008 to just over 2.8 million barrels.

It goes without saying that the removal of the sanctions regime will allow Iran to resume exports at levels seen in the past. And if Iran is true to its word, and that its nuclear program is indeed focused on the development of nuclear power plants, then it is likely that its domestic demand for fossil fuels will fall, thereby allowing for even greater exports.

The first issue regarding Iran’s new oil flow is how easily will it be able to reestablish its former customer links and sell its oil, regardless of increased production. Having destabilized the Middle East by killing Saddam Hussein, the U.S. may wish now to leave the areas’ nations alone to sort out the resulting mess. Into this void we can be sure that the Chinese and Russians will stride forcefully and deliberately.’

Even if Iran is successful in regaining former customers, and selling down its inventory, how quickly can its production be increased? The Iranian oil infrastructure has been neglected for years and Iran needs to rebuild it desperately. Fortunately, Western expertise in energy development is by far the most advanced, which will give Western interests a leg up on Chinese and Russian rivals. But Chinese cash and strategic support may prove decisive.

Reuters reports that, in the opinion of 25 economists and oil analysts, Iran could be able to increase its oil production by up to 500,000 barrels a day this year and reach 750,000 a day by mid-2016. This will add to a current global oversupply of some 2.6 million barrels a day.

Meanwhile, as the price of oil remains relatively depressed, production wells in the U.S. and other producing nations, planned and established when oil prices were much higher, are drifting off stream. Finally, there is increasing evidence that recession may be felt internationally, reducing at least the rate of growth of oil demand if not the absolute level of demand in some countries.

Today’s oil market faces a global supply overhang and price weakness. Iran’s new oil production and exportation is not likely to come on line for at least a year or two, provided the treaty is ratified. But when that oil does start to flow, the new supply could add to downward price pressures. However, the amounts are unlikely to greatly affect the totality of the global marketplace and by that time whatever inflationary effects there may be of continued monetary expansion in America and Europe should act as a stronger force pulling prices upward.

In total then, the return of Iran to the global energy market should have a beneficial effect on the global economy, both in pushing down prices and providing lucrative development work for oil companies around the world. However, the economic aspects of the deal are largely insignificant in comparison to the geopolitical ramifications.

President Obama’s nuclear arms deal leaves open to debate whether Iran will become a nuclear power within the next decade, if not earlier. Unleashing a nuclear arms race in a highly unstable area of the world would render oil supplies sourced from there considerably less secure and unattractive, possibly even at lower prices, to consumer nations, including the 500 million strong EU.

The deal will also threaten the longstanding alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The implicit arrangement between the two countries has always been that the Saudis would direct the lion’s share of its oil exports to the United States in exchange for American support of regional Saudi security interests. Shiite dominated Iran has always been one of Sunni-led Saudi Arabia’s top concerns. If the U.S. and Iran drift closer together, Saudi Arabia will surely seek other partners who are more supportive of its interests.

No one knows what such a Middle East will look like. But given the volatility of the region, change is unlikely to be pretty.

Iran’s Reserves Will Increase Under New Accord


Iran’s Uranium Stocks Could Grow Under Nuclear Accord

By Global Security Newswire Staff
January 22, 2014

Iran might briefly accumulate more low-enriched uranium under new limits, as it still cannot change the material to a less bomb-suitable form, Reuters reports.
Envoys and analysts said there is no immediate cause for alarm over a possible short-term boost in the stocks under Iran’s accord with the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany.
One diplomat, though, predicted careful global scrutiny of Iran’s preparations to turn its gaseous uranium into solid oxide.
A site for carrying out that task was scheduled to enter trials last month, and then to launch “immediately after” vetting was complete, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards assessment from November. However, the nation appears to have fallen behind in preparing the so-called Enriched UO2 Powder Plant, according to Reuters.
The facility would allow Iran to limit its low-enriched reserves by processing the material into oxide powder, which would be less suited for conversion into bomb-grade, highly enriched uranium.
Washington says Iran has pledged to possess no more low-enriched uranium gas at the end of the pact’s six-month duration than the nation held this week, when the interim nuclear agreement took effect. The deal is intended to carve out space for negotiators to address suspicions that Iran is pursuing a nuclear-arms capability under the guise of a peaceful atomic program.
A high-level Obama administration official said the nation would hold less than 16,865 pounds in July, when the deal is slated to expire. Postponing the oxide plant’s activation means the site would have to operate faster than planned, if Tehran is to fall in line with the stockpile restriction after six months. Iran is believed to produce roughly 550 pounds of low-enriched uranium each month, so it would have to process at least that amount into powder monthly to stay within limits.
Meanwhile, energy-industry observers say the November nuclear deal appears to have slightly boosted Iran’s petroleum sales, Reuters reported separately. The news agency valued the increase at roughly $150 million each month, and linked the change to growing confidence among oil purchasers in anticipation of the atomic accord.

This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.