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Iran Nuclear Controversy Raises Oil Pricing Questions

January 19, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Energy analysts are identifying the ongoing controversy over Iran’s nuclear program as the wild card in this year’s oil market, according to Bloomberg. Iran is OPEC’s No. 2 producer. Any major supply disruption, brought about by economic sanctions, could send global oil prices climbing. In 1979, after the revolution in Iran slashed the country’s oil exports, crude oil prices more than doubled.The European Union and the U.S. have called for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to consider whether to refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council. The IAEA, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, has planned the meeting for Feb. 2. If the issue is referred to the U.N. Security Council, it could decide to impose sanctions against Iran.Iran recently broke IAEA seals placed on its Natanz nuclear facility. Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the facility is for developing nuclear energy only. But U.S. officials fear the program could be used to develop nuclear weapons. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in a Washington press conference yesterday that Russia favors holding off on a formal referral to the U.N. Security Council. Russian officials hope to reach a compromise with Iran during a planned meeting next month, Solana said, according to a news report in the Los Angeles Times. Russia is a veto-holding member of the Security Council.Russia has argued that no final decision on the referral should be made until March, during a regularly scheduled IAEA meeting. Solana indicated he wasn’t happy with the Russian proposal, the L.A. Times reported.
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