Trump says China trade talks ‘back on track,’ new tariffs on hold

OSAKA (Reuters) – The United States and China agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing. China agreed to make unspecified new purchases of U.S. farm products and return to the negotiating table. No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the world’s two largest economies remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement. Financial markets, which have been rattled by the nearly year-long trade war, are likely to cheer the truce. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports, threatening to put the brakes on an already slowing global economy. Those tariffs remain in place while negotiations resume. “We’re right back on track,” Trump told reporters after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka, Japan. “We’re holding back on tariffs and they’re going to buy farm products,” Trump said, without giving details about the purchases. The U.S. president had threatened to slap new levies on roughly $300 billion (£236 billion) of additional Chinese goods, including popular consumer products, if the meeting in Japan proved unsuccessful. Such a move would have extended existing tariffs to almost all Chinese imports into the United States. Trump offered an olive branch to Xi on Huawei, the world’s biggest telecom network gear maker. The Trump administration has said the Chinese firm is too close to China’s government and poses a national security risk, and has lobbied U.S. allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure. Trump’s Commerce Department has put Huawei on its “entity list,” effectively banning the company from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval. But Trump said on Saturday he did not think that was fair to U.S. suppliers, who were upset by the move. “We’re allowing that, because that wasn’t national security,” he said. Financial markets and businesses worldwide were eager to get relief from the U.S.-China trade war. “Returning to negotiations is good news for the business community and breathes some much needed certainty into a slowly deteriorating relationship,” said Jacob Parker, a vice-president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council.   Nick Bit: so much for the China trade war slowing the global economy. In fact just the opposite will happen

Trump meets Kim Jong Un, becomes first sitting U.S. president to step into North Korea

“Stepping across that line was a great honor,” Trump said after the two walked toward each other and shook hands.

Hell on earth: The horrors of North Korean torture camps

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is said to preside over a brutal system of torture camps imprisoning as many as 120,000 citizens of his isolated regime.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is said to preside over a brutal system of torture camps imprisoning as many as 120,000 citizens of his isolated regime.

US student Otto Warmbier died on Monday at age 22, just days after his release from North Korea in a vegetative state following 17 months in custody.
US student Otto Warmbier died on Monday at age 22, just days after his release from North Korea in a vegetative state following 17 months in custody.

Now, the death of Otto Warmbier has brought fresh scrutiny to the regime’s brutal torture camps under leader Kim Jong Un. The 22-year-old student passed away from mysterious brain damage he suffered while a prisoner in the isolated state. He succumbed to his horrifying injuries just six days after he was released from North Korea back to his parents in a vegetative state following 17 months in custody. Its believed he spent some of that time in one of Kim’s prison camps, where thousands of his citizens are believed to have died.

Bodies of prisoners in the gulag: 'The mice eat the eyes, nose, ears, and toes of the corpses'. Photo / UN
Bodies of prisoners in the gulag: ‘The mice eat the eyes, nose, ears, and toes of the corpses’. Photo / UN

Warmbier’s doctors in Cincinnati said that the student had suffered ‘extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of his brain’ consistent with oxygen deprivation for a prolonged period. The isolated North Korean regime is believed to have as many 120,000 political prisoners in its harsh labor camps. Grotesque stories of torture offer among the few clues to Warmbier’s fate.

This drawing depicts prisoners foraging among live wild animals. In the Korean description: 'out of starvation and hunger, find snakes and rats and you eat them'.
This drawing depicts prisoners foraging among live wild animals. In the Korean description: ‘out of starvation and hunger, find snakes and rats and you eat them’.

In a 2014 report, the United Nations Human Rights Commission called North Korea ‘a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world’ due to the country’s ‘systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations’. Beatings are widespread in the camps, in which guards are given near-absolute authority to abuse and kill prisoners, according to survivors who have survived to speak out.Escapees have said that the sounds of beatings were so extreme each night that it was impossible to sleep.

'Scale, airplane, motorcycle.' Survivors told the U.N. that they had to stay in stress positions until they collapsed. 'Scale, airplane, motorcycle.' Survivors told the U.N. that they had to stay in stress positions until they collapsed. Photo / UN
Survivors told the U.N. that they had to stay in stress positions until they collapsed. Photo / UN

One woman interviewed for the UN report, who had been imprisoned for practicing Christianity, told of a torture room with a water tank in which suspects could be immersed to simulate drowning. ‘She indicated that she was fully immersed in cold water for hours,’ the report said. ‘Only when she stood on her tip-toes would her nose be barely above the water level. She could hardly breathe. She was gripped by panic, fearing that she might drown.’ Other baroque torture methods of the North Korean regime have come to light as well.
One Ministry of People’s Security official who defected revealed that the agency made use of small metal cages in the Pyongyang offices of its pre-trial investigative bureau.

Horrendous: This drawing by a former North Korean prison guard depicts a position called 'pigeon torture' where prisoners are beaten on the chest until they vomit blood. Photo / UN
Horrendous: This drawing by a former North Korean prison guard depicts a position called ‘pigeon torture’ where prisoners are beaten on the chest until they vomit blood. Photo / UN

‘Victims would be crammed into the cage for several hours so that the circulation of blood to extremities becomes interrupted and other parts of the body swell up,’ according to the UN report. ‘The victim turns into a rusty brown color. After removal from the cage, the victim is abruptly “unfolded” causing further excruciating pain,’ the report said. The same witness recalled receiving formal training on torture techniques, including ‘how to cut off a suspect’s blood circulation using straps, while simultaneously placing the suspect in physical stress positions in order to inflict the maximum level of pain.’

A rare glimpse of life inside a North Korean prison camp is seen in this undated image.
A rare glimpse of life inside a North Korean prison camp is seen in this undated image.

Nick Bit: Trump calls a brutal dictator a great man and his friend. Kim should be charged with crimes against humanity and put on trial at the Hague. I am outraged what this president will do for a publicity stunt. And i am Amazed that Americans fall for this shit. Sleeping Americans deserved to be Nuked by North Korea. And mark my words it will happen

Russia agrees with Saudi to extend OPEC deal by 6-9 months: Putin

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan June 29, 2019. Yuri Kadobnov/Pool via REUTERS

OSAKA (Reuters) – Russia has agreed with Saudi Arabia to extend by six to nine months a deal with OPEC on reducing oil production, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. Russia, Saudi deal shows commitment to oil market stability: Novak Putin, speaking after talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, told a news conference the deal would be extended in its current form and with the same volumes. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, meet on July 1-2 to discuss the deal that involves curbing oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd). The pact expires after June 30. “We will support the extension, both Russia and Saudi Arabia. As far as the length of the extension is concerned, we have yet to decide whether it will be six or nine months. Maybe it will be nine months,” said Putin said, who met the crown prince on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Japan.. A nine-month extension would mean the deal runs out in March 2020. Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of Russian Direct Investment Fund who helped design the OPEC-Russia deal, said the pact in place since 2017 has already lifted Russian budget revenues by more than 7 trillion roubles ($110 billion). “The strategic partnership within OPEC+ has led to the stabilisation of oil markets and allows both to reduce and increase production depending on the market demand conditions, which contributes to the predictability and growth of investments in the industry,” Dmitriev said.

Trump said Saturday he planned “major” new sanctions against Iran to take effect Monday

Trump may sanction Iranian STFI: informed source

Trump may sanction Iranian STFI: informed source
TEHRAN, Jun. 24 (MNA) – While Trump and his aides haven’t elaborated on what additional sanctions would look like a person familiar with Treasury discussions said that the US President may wish to sanction Iran’s Special Trade and Finance Instrument (STFI).

According to wall Street Journal, “in the mix are sanctions against Iran’s Special Trade and Finance Instrument (STFI), the mirror company to Europe’s Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges, a special-purpose vehicle set up to try to circumvent US sanctions,” a person familiar with Treasury discussions said.

One possible channel for ratcheting up the pressure would be to penalize banks, insurers, traders or any other companies outside Iran that are still helping the country, a move supporters say would stifle the remaining flows of cash keeping the country and regime on life support, the report said about other possible new US sanctions for Iran.

Other sanctions could target economic sectors not already hit such as consumer- or industrial-goods manufacturing, or entities that move money or products in and out of Iran, such as trading houses or shipping concerns, the same report confirmed. The US Treasury Department, which is responsible for levying sanctions, has declined to comment about the issue according to WSJ. Trump said Saturday he planned “major” new sanctions against Iran to take effect Monday, without providing details. According to Iranian officials, STFI is ready to start operation and Europeans have to purchase Iranian oil or establish a financial line with Iran to have it operational. STFI was established to ease INSTEX implementation and if the financial instrument is decided to become operational, there is be no problem having it run in Iran.

Trump proposes third meeting with North Korea’s Kim

SAUL LOEB / AFP | US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019.

North Korea said Saturday President Donald Trump’s offer to meet leader Kim Jong Un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone is a “very interesting suggestion,” brightening prospects for a third face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. The North’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said that the meeting, if realized, would serve as “another meaningful occasion in further deepening the personal relations between the two leaders and advancing the bilateral relations.”  Choe still said that North Korea hasn’t received an official proposal for the DMZ meeting from the United States. Her statement was carried via the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. Earlier Saturday, Trump invited Kim to shake hands during his planned visit the DMZ, which has served as a de-facto border between the Koreas since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Trump is scheduled to fly to South Korea later Saturday for a two-day trip after attending the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. Trump tweeted that “If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”   “All I did is put out a feeler if you’d like to meet,” Trump said later of the invitation, adding that he’s not sure of Kim’s whereabouts. Trump and Kim have met twice since Kim entered talks with the United States early last year to deal away his advancing nuclear arsenal in return for political and economic benefits. Their first summit in Singapore in June last year ended with Kim’s promise to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which lacked any specific timetable and roadmap. In Singapore, the two leaders also agreed to improve bilateral relations and build lasting peace on the peninsula. They met again in Vietnam in February, but that second summit collapsed due to disputes over how much sanctions relief North Korea should win in return for dismantling its main nuclear complex   a limited denuclearization step.  Kim has since asked Trump to work out acceptable proposals to salvage the negotiations by the end of this year. U.S. officials said sanctions on North Korea would stay in place until North Korea takes firmer steps toward nuclear disarmament.Talks of a revival of diplomacy have flared again since Kim and Trump recently exchanged personal letters. Kim called Trump’s letter “excellent” while Trump described Kim’s as “beautiful.” The United States and North Korea are in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American soldiers are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.

China agrees to restart U.S. trade talks as Trump says ‘back on track’

U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands ahead of their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

OSAKA (Reuters) – The United States and China have agreed to restart trade talks and Washington will not level new tariffs on Chinese exports, China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday, as U.S. President Donald Trump said the talks were “back on track”. Saturday’s high-stakes meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping was being closely watched in hopes that it would ease tension rather than plunge the world’s two biggest economies into a deeper trade war. The dispute has already cost companies in both countries billions of dollars, disrupted global manufacturing and supply lines, and roiled markets. “The U.S. side said it would not add new tariffs on Chinese exports,” Xinhua said in a brief report, adding that negotiators of both countries would discuss specific issues, but gave no details. Trump told reporters he had an excellent meeting with the Chinese leader and that talks were “back on track”. The two met in Japan’s western city of Osaka, on the sidelines of a summit of leaders of Group of 20 (G20) developed economies. “We had a very good meeting with President Xi of China, excellent, I would say excellent, as good as it was going to be,” Trump said. “We discussed a lot of things and we’re right back on track and we’ll see what happens.” Ahead of the talks, Trump had said a fair trade deal would be “historic”, but gave no details. The trade dispute, which includes a feud over Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL] has fanned fears it could threaten global growth. “The trade relations between China and the United States are difficult, they are contributing to the slowdown of the global economy,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday, the summit’s first day. The U.S. president has said he would extend existing tariffs to cover almost all imports from China into the United States if the meeting brought no progress on wide-ranging U.S. demands for economic reforms. At the start of Saturday’s talks, Xi told Trump he was ready to exchange views on fundamental issues and stressed the need for dialogue rather than confrontation. “Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation,” he said. The G20 leaders will agree on Saturday to accelerate reforms of the World Trade Organization, but stop short of calling for the need to resist protectionism in their closing communique, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper said. The United States says China has been stealing U.S. intellectual property for years, forces U.S. firms to share trade secrets as a condition for doing business in China, and subsidizes state-owned firms to dominate industries. China has said the United States is making unreasonable demands and must also make concessions. The dispute escalated when talks collapsed in May after Washington accused Beijing of reneging on reform pledges. Trump raised tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliated with levies on U.S. imports. As ties have soured, the dispute has spread beyond trade. The U.S. administration has declared Chinese telecoms giant Huawei a security threat, effectively banning U.S. companies from doing business with it. U.S. officials have also pressed other governments to drop Huawei from plans to develop fifth generation, or 5G, networks. Trump has suggested easing U.S. restrictions on Huawei could be a factor in a trade deal with Xi. China has demanded the U.S. drop the curbs, saying Huawei presents no security threat.

With Iran nuclear deal on the brink, U.S. vows to choke off Iranian oil sales

FILE PHOTO: Iran’s national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) – World powers warned Iran to respect the terms of their nuclear deal in talks on Friday that Tehran said were the “last chance” to save the pact, as Washington vowed to choke off all sales of Iranian oil. “We will sanction any imports of Iranian crude oil… There are right now no oil waivers in place,” Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative On Iran, told reporters in London. The United States would study reports of Iranian crude going to China, Hook said when asked about the sale of Iranian crude to Asia, adding: “We will sanction any illicit purchases of Iranian crude oil.” Washington has re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear accord, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Trump administration aims to cut Iran’s oil sales to zero to force Tehran to negotiate a broader deal that includes its missile capabilities and regional influence.

Hook said the United States was on track to deprive Iran of $50 billion (£39 billion) in oil revenues and told European companies to choose between doing business with the United States or Iran. His comments ratcheted up pressure on European allies who are struggling to save the nuclear deal, also signed by Russia and China, in the face of U.S. sanctions. Tehran is threatening to pull out of the accord unless it secures a reprieve from U.S. measures that have led to a collapse in sales of crude, its main export. Hook’s statement further lowered expectations of a breakthrough at the Vienna talks, where senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia met with Iranian officials around midday (1000 GMT). Tehran is threatening to exceed the maximum amount of enriched uranium it is allowed under the deal unless fellow signatories of the deal rein in the United States, adding to fears of a military escalation in the region. “We will repeat to the Iranians that nuclear issues are not negotiable. We want them to stay in the accord, but we won’t accept them messing us around,” a senior European diplomat said before the meeting. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Friday described the talks as a “last chance for the remaining parties … to gather and see how they can meet their commitments towards Iran.” An Iranian official told reporters ahead of the meeting that his country’s main demand was to sell its oil at the same levels that it did before Washington withdrew from the accord. However, he cautioned that Tehran had lost patience with the European signatories. Until its demand is met, Iran will continue on its current path and go over limits of the deal one by one, starting with the uranium enrichment level, the official said, although none of the actions are irreversible. “For one year we exercised patience. Now it is the Europeans’ turn to exercise patience,” he said. “They should try to find solutions, practical solutions and there’s always enough time for diplomacy and there’s always the possibility to go back, to reverse.”

UAE becomes Japan’s largest crude supplier in May as Iran oil imports halt

Singapore — The UAE became the largest crude supplier to Japan in May after it halted imports of Iranian oil, creating a need for some its refiners to search for light sour crudes to blend with heavy grades from Ecuador. Japan’s crude imports from the UAE surged 66.1% year on year and were up 42.8% month on month to average 1.03 million b/d in May, preliminary data released Friday by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. The UAE was the largest crude supplier to Japan in May for the first time since June 2016, while Japan hiked its total imports in May to the highest level since July 2015, a METI official said. Japan imported 1.5 million barrels of crude from Ecuador in May — including Oriente crude for the first time since May 2015 at 376,080 barrels, the METI data showed. Total Ecuadorian crude imports in May, which also included 1.14 million barrels of Napo crude, were the highest since April 2017, the METI official said. Refiner Fuji Oil, which had been one of Japan’s major importers of Iranian crude, has said it is using Napo as the main basis for replacing Iranian Heavy, blending it with other grades from the Middle East, including Abu Dhabi crudes and Qatar Marine. Fuji Oil finds Ecuadorian crude “very heavy” as a replacement for medium or medium-heavy crudes from Iran and is “looking at Upper Zakum and Banoco Arab Medium as replacement for Iran,” a source familiar with the matter said. Japanese refiners completed their imports of Iranian oil by mid-April before the US allowed sanctions waivers to Iran’s top oil buyers to expire in early May. Japan last suspended Iranian oil imports over November-January, with refiners importing last barrels from Iran early last October. Confusion surrounding shipping, insurance and banking rules under the US sanctions kept some other countries from resuming imports after the US granted the waivers on November 5 last year. Japan typically bought mostly Iranian Heavy crude from Iran prior to the end of the US sanctions waiver. The light sour Abu Dhabi grades have been fetching increasingly higher premiums over Iranian Heavy during the last few trading cycles, possibly making a case for Japanese refiners to consider looking for cheaper alternatives later in the year. “It’s never easy finding cheap alternatives because Iranian crude and condensate have always been among the most affordable feedstock grades … but Japanese refiners would need to diversify crude procurement options because Abu Dhabi grades are indeed rather expensive,” a trading desk manager at a Japanese refiner said.

OPEC and its allies grapple with murky market outlook as they prepare to meet in Vienna

OPEC meets in the shadow of Trump's showdown with Iran

London — Three months ago, OPEC and its allies deferred a decision on extending their oil production cuts beyond the first half of the year, cancelling a planned April meeting to get a better read on the market. Receive daily email alerts, subscriber notes & personalize your experience. With the 1.2 million b/d cut agreement set to expire in three days and OPEC ministers set to meet Monday in Vienna, the signals appear no clearer. Bearish outlooks for demand and unresolved global trade disputes have kept a lid on prices, even as many forecasters predict a tight market ahead on supply risks caused in large part by US sanctions. Heightened Middle East geopolitical tensions following a series of attacks on oil tankers and other infrastructure in the Middle East in recent weeks have failed to reverse the bearish sentiment. Faced with the uncertainty and with oil prices still slumping, many OPEC ministers have signalled that an extension of the cuts is the preferred option. The exact length and level of the cuts is yet to be negotiated, with some Russian oil companies pushing for their country’s quota to be eased, while Algeria has reportedly floated a deeper cut to provide a price boost. But a rollover of the current agreement is the most likely scenario, Russia’s public ambivalence nonwithstanding, said Shin Kim, S&P Global Platts Analytics’ head of supply and production. It is the fear of substantial price declines from this level if the cut is not extended that the Russian government fears.” The OPEC/non-OPEC coalition also has flexibility to raise output and still maintain the parameters of the deal, given that

Saudi Arabia has voluntarily lowered its production some 600,000 b/d below its quota to “lead by example” and sanctions-hit Iran and Venezuela continue to see their volumes slide.

The OPEC schedule, finalized only days ago after a prolonged spat over the meeting date, calls for a delegate-level Joint Technical Committee to convene Sunday morning and the nine-country Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee to meet Monday morning, followed by the regular OPEC ministerial meeting Monday afternoon. Russia and the nine other non-OPEC partners in the supply accord will then join the talks Tuesday.  Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are scheduled to meet at the G20 summit and could announce an agreement on OPEC/non-OPEC production policy ahead of the Vienna meeting. “We should wait, including for meetings during the G20,” Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday, declining to commit to a rollover. “We will see what issues will be discussed there, how the economy and the market situation will develop. We will have a clearer idea of the situation by the OPEC/non-OPEC meeting.” Increasingly messy geopolitics may, however, color the meeting, given the escalation in attacks in the Middle East that have raised concerns about oil supply security. Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of being behind the incidents that have targeted six oil tankers and a key Saudi oil pipeline.

Iran has denied involvement but has repeatedly threatened to shut down traffic through the narrow Strait of Hormuz if its oil exports are further choked off by US sanctions, which have already caused Iran’s oil output to fall almost 1.4 million b/d — more than one third — in the span of a year, according to Platts’ monthly survey of OPEC production.

Iranian officials have complained that Saudi Arabia and its close ally the UAE were destroying OPEC comity by backing the US in its sanctions. Saudi Arabia has been among the most outspoken OPEC members in advocating for a cut extension, and Iran’s primary interest is in protecting its threatened market share. “While an extension of the OPEC agreement is looking fairly straightforward, the mounting tensions between Iran and its regional rivals will likely be on full display in Vienna,” Croft  

U.S. economic growth surges in first-quarter, but momentum fizzling

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, the government confirmed on Thursday, but the export and inventory boost to activity masked weakness in domestic demand, some of which appears to have prevailed in the current period.  week acknowledged the temporary lift to economic growth from trade and inventories, which he described as “components that are not generally reliable indicators of ongoing momentum.” The U.S. central bank last Wednesday signaled interest rate cuts as early as July, citing rising risks to the economy, especially from an escalation in the trade conflict between the United States and China, and low inflation. “First-quarter GDP paints a misleading picture of the U.S. economy’s vigor at the start of the year, and second-quarter GDP will come as a timely reminder that the economy is now well past its inflection point,” said Lydia Boussour, a senior U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York. Gross domestic product increased at a 3.1% annualized rate, also driven by more spending on highways and defense, the Commerce Department said in its third reading of first-quarter GDP. That was unchanged from its estimate last month and in line with economists’ expectations. The economy grew at a 2.2% pace in the October-December period. Despite the unchanged reading, growth in consumer spending was revised lower and business investment in intellectual property products was stronger than previously estimated. There were also upward revisions to spending on nonresidential structures and government expenditure. Revisions to the trade deficit and inventory accumulation were minor. Excluding trade, inventories and government spending, the economy grew at only a 1.3% rate in the first quarter. That was the slowest rise in this measure of domestic demand since the second quarter of 2013. When measured from the income side, the economy grew at a tepid 1.0% rate in the last quarter. Gross domestic income (GDI) was previously reported to have increased at a rate of 1.4%. The income side of the growth ledger was curbed by a dip in profits. After-tax profits without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustment, which correspond to S&P 500 profits, fell at a 0.2% rate as earnings of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased. The average of GDP and GDI, also referred to as gross domestic output and considered a better measure of economic activity, increased at a 2.1% rate in the January-March period, down from the 2.2% growth pace estimated last month. Inflation was also muted in the first quarter. A gauge of inflation tracked by the Fed increased at a 1.2% rate, revised up from the previously reported 1.0% pace. The economy will mark 10 years of expansion in July, the longest on record. But momentum is slowing, with manufacturing struggling, the trade deficit widening again and the housing sector still mired in a soft patch. While consumer spending appears to have regained speed in the second quarter, business investment in equipment is expected to have contracted further following Wednesday’s weak report on durable goods orders in May. The trade war between Washington and Beijing is hurting both business and consumer confidence. “Just as the expansion is set to become the longest in U.S. history, recession fears have increased,” said Scott Hoyt, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “U.S. businesses appear spooked by the president’s capricious trade policy.” The Atlanta Fed is forecasting GDP growth to rise at a 1.9% annualized rate in the April-June quarter.

Iran on course to exceed nuclear pact limit within days – diplomats

 EDITORS’ NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. A security official stands in front of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran, August 21, 2010.

VIENNA/TOKYO (Reuters) – Iran is on course to breach a threshold in its nuclear agreement with world powers within days by accumulating more enriched uranium than permitted, although it has not done so yet, diplomats said, citing the latest data from U.N. inspectors.  Iran began fuelling its first nuclear power plant on Saturday, a potent symbol of its growing regional sway and rejection of international sanctions designed to prevent it building a nuclear bomb.  France, one of the European powers caught in the middle in an escalating confrontation between Washington and Tehran, said it would ask U.S. President Donald Trump to suspend some sanctions on Iran to allow negotiations to defuse the crisis. A week after Trump called off air strikes on Iran minutes before impact, world leaders are trying to pull the two countries back from the brink, warning that a mistake on either side could lead to war. “I want to convince Trump that it is in his interest to re-open a negotiation process (and) go back on certain sanctions to give negotiations a chance,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in Japan, where he is due to meet Trump on the sidelines of a summit in coming days.

Trump warns any war with Iran ‘wouldn’t last long’

Trump warns any war with Iran ‘wouldn’t last long’

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he does not want a war with Iran but warned that if fighting does break out, it “wouldn’t last very long,” even as Iran prepared to scale back its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal scuppered by Washington. Asked if a war with Iran was brewing, Trump told Fox Business Network: “I hope we don’t but we’re in a very strong position if something should happen.” “I’m not talking boots on the ground,” the US president said. “I’m just saying if something would happen, it wouldn’t last very long.”The comments come just days after Trump cancelled air strikes minutes before impact, with allies warning that the increase in tensions since the United States pulled out of a nuclear pact with Iran last year could accidentally lead to war. Iran has suggested it will breach a threshold in the agreement that limited its stockpile of uranium on Thursday, a move that would put pressure on European countries that have tried to remain neutral to pick sides. The fate of the 2015 nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for access to international trade, has been at the heart of the dispute which has escalated and taken on a military dimension in recent weeks. Washington sharply tightened sanctions last month, aiming to bar all international sales of Iranian oil. It accuses Iran of being behind bomb attacks on ships in the Gulf, which it denies. Last week, Iran shot down a US drone it said was in its air space, which Washington denied. Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes but called them off at the last minute, later saying too many people would have died. His latest remarks came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to rein in the crisis between the two arch foes, saying that Iran “never seeks war” with the United States. Rouhani spoke earlier by phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and told him Iran has “always been committed to regional peace and stability and will make efforts in this respect”. Although the United States and Iran both say they do not want war, last week’s aborted US strikes have been followed by menacing rhetoric on both sides. On Tuesday Trump threatened the “obliteration” of parts of Iran if it struck US interests, while Rouhani, who normally presents Tehran’s mild-mannered face, called White House policy “mentally retarded”. The standoff creates a challenge for Washington which, after quitting the nuclear deal against the advice of European allies, is now seeking their support to force Iran to comply with it. Over the past few weeks Iran has set a number of deadlines for European countries to protect its economy from the impact of US sanctions or see Tehran reduce compliance with the deal. ‘Iran does not see this as a violation of the nuclear deal,’ says FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Tehran A spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said on Wednesday that one of those deadlines would expire the following day, with Iran potentially exceeding a limit imposed under the deal to keep its stockpile of enriched uranium below 300 kg. “The deadline of the Atomic Energy Organization for passing the production of enriched uranium from the 300 kg limit will end tomorrow,” the IRIB news agency quoted spokesman Behrouz Kamalvindi as saying. He added that after the deadline Iran would speed up its rate of producing the material. Another threshold bars Iran from enriching uranium to a purity beyond 3.67 percent fissile material. It has set a deadline of July 7 after which it could also breach that. Any such moves would put European countries that oppose Trump’s tactics under pressure to take action. They have tried to salvage the nuclear deal by promising to provide Tehran with economic benefits to offset the harm from US sanctions. But so far they have failed, with Iran largely shut from oil markets and all major European companies cancelling plans to invest. Iran says it would be Washington’s fault if it exceeds the 300 kg stockpile threshold. The 2015 deal allows Iran to sell excess uranium abroad to keep its stockpile below the limit, but such sales have been blocked by US sanctions. The Trump administration says the deal reached under his predecessor Barack Obama was too weak because it is not permanent and does not cover issues outside of the nuclear area, such as Iran’s missile programme and its regional behaviour. US officials say new sanctions are necessary to force Iran back to the negotiating table, and Trump is open to talks without pre-conditions. Iran says talks are impossible unless Washington lifts sanctions first. Tehran said a further move by Washington this week to impose personal sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and threaten them against Foreign Minister Mohmmad Javad Zarif had closed off diplomacy permanently.

Iran says saving nuclear deal not its problem, EU warns no alternative

FILE PHOTO : Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi speaks to the media outside Security Council chambers at the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Iran warned the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that it would no longer be burdened with preserving a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as European states pushed Tehran to stick with the agreement because there is “no credible, peaceful alternative.” U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal last year, inflaming tensions between Tehran and Washington that led to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone last week. Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes but called them off at the last minute. Under the deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme most U.N. and western sanctions on Iran were lifted, however the United States has imposed new sanctions that it says are designed to force Iran back to the negotiating table. “The U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and re-imposition of its sanctions, rendered the JCPOA almost fully ineffective,” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi told the 15-member Security Council, using the acronym for the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “Iran alone cannot, shall not and will not take all of the burdens any more to preserve the JCPOA,” he said. European powers have been trying to save the deal, but Iran has given them a deadline of July 8. It has said it is ready to go through with a threat to enrich uranium to a higher level than permitted under the deal if Europe cannot shield Tehran from U.S. sanctions. “The JCPOA is a nuclear agreement that has been working and delivering on its goals. There is also no credible, peaceful alternative,” European Union U.N. Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida warned the U.N. Security Council. The nuclear deal is endorsed in a 2015 Security Council resolution. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reports every six months on implementation of that resolution, which also subjects Iran to an arms embargo and other restrictions. Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen described Iran’s actions as “deeply counterproductive.” “Iran’s defiance of the Security Council and its reckless behaviour threatening peace and security globally must not be downplayed in the name of preserving a deal that doesn’t fully cut off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon,” he said. He noted that the U.N. resolution endorsing the nuclear deal “provides a mechanism for the council to address significant non-performance of Iran by its nuclear commitments.” Under the nuclear deal there is a process culminating at the U.N. Security Council that can trigger a so-called snapback of all sanctions if Iran violates the agreement. French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre warned that the end of the deal “would mean a dangerous step backwards” and urged Tehran not to breach the deal. Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow wanted Iran to remain committed to the nuclear deal, but also accused the United States of sending mixed signals.

Oil prices drop slightly as traders wait for G20, OPEC+ meetings

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Thursday to erase some of the previous session’s strong gains, as traders wait for the G20 summit in Japan and for a meeting of OPEC and other crude producers to decide on an extension of output cuts. Oil prices rose more than 2% on Wednesday to their highest in about a month, buoyed by U.S. government data showing a larger-than-expected drawdown in crude stocks as exports hit a record-high and surprise drops in refined product stockpiles. However, traders said concerns that a hoped-for breakthrough on trade at the G20 may not eventuate and some nervousness about continued output cuts were crimping follow-through buying. “Investors are split as what to expect from the G20, a positive reset to trade talks … could do wonders in the short-term for the demand-side argument for higher crude prices,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA. U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit that starts on Friday in Osaka, Japan to seek a breakthrough in negotiations to end a trade war that has been hitting global economic growth. Trump said on Wednesday that a deal was possible but also spoke of a Plan B that would involve reducing business ties with China. “With Trump stirring up trade war dust via “Plan B” there is still that element of the unknown,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets in Bangkok. Almost immediately after the G20 summit ends on Saturday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets on Monday to discuss an extension of production cuts to support prices. The day after that OPEC members meet with other producers including Russia in a grouping known as OPEC+, which agreed in December to reduce supply by 1.2 million barrels per day from Jan. 1. The agreement is due to expire on June 30. Crude inventories in the United States, the largest producer and consumer of oil, fell 12.8 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, far surpassing analyst expectations for a decrease of 2.5 million barrels. That was the most since September 2016, according to the statistical arm of the Department of Energy. Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd). Overall crude exports rose to 3.8 million bpd, beating the previous record of 3.6 million bpd in February. Nick Bit: so far this year a paltry 200,000 bpd increase in US oil exports… Tell me how this piss aunt production increase is going to cover the 10 million bpd short fall when revolution, war, trade sanctions  OPEC production cuts and increasing world demand bite

US oil executives see slowing output as investment declines: Dallas Fed

Washington — Oil and gas production increased in second-quarter 2019 throughout Texas, the 11th consecutive quarter of growth, but that growth is beginning to slow and a lack of investment could accelerate an output fall, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said in its quarterly survey of oil and gas firms Wednesday. Overall activity in the oil and gas sector was flat in Q2 following three years of record growth, the Dallas Fed said. The survey’s business activity index, a broad measure of economic conditions in the Dallas Fed’s district, dropped below zero in Q2, due to declines in activity from exploration and production and oilfield services companies, the Dallas Fed said. “Positive survey readings generally indicate expansion; those below zero suggest contraction,” the survey said. In anonymous comments released with the survey, E&P executives repeatedly pointed to a loss of investment in both the conventional and unconventional oil and gas plays. This is already hindering new exploration and will likely increase the likelihood of future bankruptcies and mergers, according to the comments.

“It is very true that cash is drying up, and it is going to be hard to get financing to drill our wells,” one E&P executive wrote.

“The erratic nature of energy prices makes it very hard to invest currently,” wrote another. “It also makes hedging a very difficult decision.” “Industry decision-making is slowing and everybody is trying to delay spending,” wrote another. Credit available from banks has declined, companies are more focused on living within cash flow and expansion plans have slowed, according to the comments. “We are confining our ‘new’ business to acquisition of existing production,” another executive wrote. “From the day-to-day event-driven market price for crude, coupled with the perpetually growing production levels, there is little basis for engaging in ‘wishful’ projections that ignore the reality of supply in excess of demand without apparent change in either component in the near or intermediate term.” Other comments focused on trade war fears, political instability ahead of the 2020 US presidential elections, pipeline constraints out of the Permian, and oversupply of both oil and gas amid weakening demand. “There are many darkening clouds on the horizon at the moment,” an executive with an oilfield services company wrote.

Iran Demands Full Withdrawal of American Forces from Middle East

CAMP BOST, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 11: U.S. service members walk off a helicopter on the runway at Camp Bost on September 11, 2017 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. About 300 marines are currently deployed in Helmand Province in a train, advise, and assist role supporting local Afghan security forces. Currently the …
Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif this week demanded that the United States pull its troops out of the Persian Gulf region, arguing that such a move is “fully in line” with the interest of America and the world.

His comments, made via his official Twitter account on Monday, came amid skyrocketing U.S.-Iran tensions, mainly stemming from Tehran’s decision to shoot down an American drone this month. The incident is bringing the two countries closer to a military conflict. Both have warned they are ready for war. “[U.S. President Donald Trump] is 100% right that the US military has no business in the Persian Gulf. Removal of its forces is fully in line with interests of US and the world,” Zarif wrote. He went on to say the Trump administration “is not concerned with US interests — they despise diplomacy, and [have a] thirst for war.”

Since May, President Trump has approved the deployment of an additional 2,500 American troops and military equipment to the Middle East. Before his decision, there were an estimated 70,000 American troops deployed to the region, including about 5,200 in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria, the Associated Press (AP) reported in May.  The Trump administration has begun to withdraw some troops from Syria, but it plans to leave a residual force to combat the lingering Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) threat and Iran. The Islamic Republic maintains a presence in Syria in support of the Russian-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad. In Iraq, American troops are already on heightened alert stemming from the threat posed by Iran-allied Shiite militias in the country. Referring to the menace posed by Iran-allied fighters in the region, U.S. Central Command — charged with American military activities in and around the Middle East — declared in May:

U.S. Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve [OIR], has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria. As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq.

OIR refers to the international mission against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). Factions from the Baghdad-sanctioned umbrella organization for predominantly Shiite militias in Iraq, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), have repeatedly threatened to push out American forces from Iraq. The Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) warned in November 2018 that the PMF and other Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria pose a threat to American troops in the region. U.S. officials have already accused Iran of carrying out attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq. Punishing economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration are fueling the ongoing tensions between Iran and the United States.

U.S.’s Pompeo promises to ensure oil supplies to India after Iranian crude ban

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Foreign Ministry in New Delhi, India, June 26, 2019. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The United States will ensure India receives adequate supplies of oil as New Delhi stops buying Iranian crude in line with U.S. sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer, bought about 184,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from the United States between November 2018 and May 2019, compared with about 40,000 bpd in the same period a year earlier, tanker data obtained from shipping and industry sources shows.

Strike threat puts Norway’s oil and gas output at risk from Friday

London — Norway’s oil and gas output could be disrupted starting Friday as offshore workers are threatening strike action, employers’ group the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association said. Around 1,600 members of two trade unions, SAFE and Industri Energi, were set to strike if mandatory mediation talks on Thursday failed, the employers’ group said. The impact on production was unclear, but the Asgard C, Knarr and Statfjord C facilities are among those affected, as is the Johan Sverdrup development project. “Notice of collective work stoppage has been filed by SAFE for 667 members on 12 installations, and by Industri Energi 937 members on 20 installations,” the association said in an emailed comment. It said wage negotiations had broken down on May 28. Norway produced 1.6 million b/d of oil and 319 MMcf/d of gas in May, partly reflecting seasonal maintenance and, for gas, demand levels, as well as technical problems.

Trump says ‘not talking boots on the ground’ if action taken against Iran

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the United States imposing fresh sanctions on Iran before signing an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON/GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was “not talking boots on the ground” should military action be necessary against Iran, and said any conflict would not last long. Asked if a war was brewing, Trump told Fox Business Network: “I hope we don’t but we’re in a very strong position if something should happen.” “I’m not talking boots on the ground,” Trump said. “I’m just saying if something would happen, it wouldn’t last very long.” The comments come just days after Trump cancelled air strikes minutes before impact, with allies warning that the increase in tensions since the United States pulled out of a nuclear pact with Iran last year could accidentally lead to war. Iran suggested it was just one day from breaching a threshold in the agreement that limited its stockpile of uranium, a move that would put pressure on European countries that have tried to remain neutral to pick sides.

Trump threatens ‘obliteration,’ Iran calls White House ‘mentally retarded’

Trump Goes Ballistic On Twitter After Iranian Supreme Leader Calls Him “Mentally Retarded”

WASHINGTON/DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American,” in a new war of words with Iran which condemned fresh U.S. sanctions on Tehran as “mentally retarded.” But Trump later left the door open for talks, saying that Iran should speak to the United States “peaceably” to ease tensions and potentially lift U.S. economic sanctions. The U.S. president on Monday signed an executive order imposing additional, largely symbolic, sanctions against Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures, with punitive measures against Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expected later this week. Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week and Trump said he had called off a retaliatory air strike with minutes to spare, saying too many people would have been killed. It would have been the first time the United States had bombed the Islamic Republic in four decades of mutual hostility. Nick Bit: Tell me Mr. President are you hearing laughter?

Iraqi PM denies allegations attack drones targeting Saudi pipeline took off from Iraq

Getty Images A Saudi Aramco oil facility.

Iraq’s prime minister is denying allegations that drones which targeted Saudi oil pipelines last month could have taken off from Iraq, rather than Yemen. The attack — claimed by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who are at war with Saudi Arabia — was part of a series of incidents that escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a crisis between Washington and Tehran. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi told reporters in Baghdad late on Tuesday that American officials contacted the Iraqis recently, alleging the drones may have taken off from Iraq. He said Iraqi military and intelligence haven’t confirmed such claims. The May 14 attack on a Saudi pipeline forced a brief shutdown but caused no casualties. Iraq hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops, and is also home to powerful Iranian-backed militias.

Crude Oil Analysis: Risks Tilted to Upside, Iran Plans to Break Nuclear Deal Limit

Please add a description for the image.
Brent Crude Price: Daily Time Frame (Sep 2018 – Jun 20

Rising geopolitical risks stemming from tensions between the US and Iran keep momentum tilted to the upside for the oil complex. Secretary of State Pompeo highlighted that significant sanctions would be announced for Iran, thus tensions between the two nations will remain high, as such, a further escalation raises the risk of oil price spikes going forward. Iran Planning to Break Nuclear Deal Limit On June 27th, Iran plans to breach the limit on its stockpile of enriched uranium set by the nuclear deal, which in turn should see the rising geopolitical risk premium keep oil prices buoyed. Elsewhere, despite US sanctions impacting the production in both Iran and Venezuela, the fragile nature of the oil given the concerns of a global slowdown should see OPEC rollout the production cuts throughout the rest of the year.

Oil prices pull back from multiweek highs though Iran tensions persist

Iran on Tuesday sharply criticized new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials

Reuters Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Oil prices, trading at multiweek highs in recent sessions, cooled on Tuesday, although heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran remained front of mind for the energy market. Oil did climb up from the day’s deepest losses, a mild recovery that traders pinned on underlying optimism for a break in the trade stalemate between President Trump and China’s Xi. The hefty climb for U.S. prices last week and to start this week came on the heels of expectations that Middle East tensions may lead to a disruption in the oil markets. Oil bulls had also cheered signs that economy-boosting central bank policy would be delivered this year. Iran on Tuesday sharply criticized new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials, saying the measures spell the “permanent closure” for diplomacy between the two nations, the Associated Press reported. For his part, Iran’s president described the White House as “afflicted by mental retardation.” President Hassan Rouhani went on to call the sanctions against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “outrageous and idiotic,” especially as the 80-year-old Shiite cleric has no plans to ever travel to the United States. From Israel, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said talks with the U.S. were still possible and that the U.S. is leaving an “open door” for Iran to walk through. “Investors appeared more preoccupied with profit taking… as the thought the U.S. would scale back its Gulf Naval presence reduces the chance of an accident or even a rogue policy mistake,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets. “So while things look calm on the surface, there’s undercurrent tension building around targeting sanctions on the Supreme Leader as it’s more likely to provoke Iran hardliners and proxies.” The Trump administration has turned up the economic pressure on Tehran since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018, hoping to drive Iran to accept a tougher agreement that would end uranium enrichment and curb its regional ambitions. The U.S. is seeking ultimately to drive the Islamic Republic’s oil exports to zero to prompt the nuclear concessions. Washington has blamed Iran for attacks on tankers, which Tehran denied. Iran downed a U.S. drone and has threatened to violate some terms of the 2015 pact.Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will hold meetings on July 1-2. The session was originally scheduled for June 25-26. “The market is largely expecting that OPEC+ will continue” with current production caps in the second half of the year, ING analysts said in a note. “This is something that a number of OPEC members, including Saudi Arabia, have stated that the market needs,” they said. Russia is perhaps the biggest unknown in the mix, so statements out of Moscow will be closely scrutinized. The impetus behind delaying the meeting of OPEC and its closes allies is a wait-and-see approach. OPEC officials want to see the outcome of the Group of 20 summit first, and they hope Trump and China President Xi, meeting for a bilateral as part of the Osaka conference, can make some progress on a trade deal, analysts have said. traded at $2.294 per million British thermal units, down 0.4%

Trump  unveils new sanctions against Iran as he calls on China to patrol Strait of Hormuz

Fed doesn’t know what it is doing, Trump says
US President Donald Trump meets with US Vice President Mike Pence(R) and US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin at the White House on June 24, 2019, before signing ‘hard-hitting sanctions’ on Iran’s supreme leader.

President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled new sanctions targeting Iran’s leaders as he called on China to shoulder the responsibility for protecting a key waterway. Trump signed an executive order he called “hard-hitting” targeting Iran’s leaders including the Supreme Leader of Iran. “I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us – a lot of restraint – and that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future,” Trump said. At a separate press briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions impact “billions of dollars” and said some of the sanctions were in the works before Iran shot down a U.S. drone. Incorrectly spelling “Strait” as “Straight,’ Trump over two tweets said China and Japan should either pay or actually patrol a key Middle Eastern waterway, the Strait of Hormuz, that has been the source of recent tension between the U.S. and Iran.

MarketWatch columnist Paul Brandus explored this subject in a column, arguing that China’s lack of involvement in the Middle East also allows the country to pursue its priorities in the Western Pacific and South China seas. Trump also made another round of Federal Reserve criticism, saying over Twitter that the central bank “doesn’t know what it is doing.” Last week the Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged though it positioned itself to cut rates as early as July.

Trump announces ‘hard hitting’ new sanctions against Iran

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against Iran Monday in retaliation for the downing of a US drone last week. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he signed an executive order imposing “hard hitting” sanctions on Iran that will deny Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and others access to financial instruments. “We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Trump said. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.” Trump had told reporters Saturday that the punitive measures were coming. “Some of them are already in place,” Trump said on the South Lawn before departing to Camp David on Saturday. “We’re putting additional sanctions on, they’re going on slowly and, in some cases, pretty rapidly, but additional sanctions are being put on Iran.”

Former Shale Gas CEO Says Fracking Revolution Has Been ‘A Disaster’ For Drillers, Investors

Steve Schlotterbeck, who led drilling company EQT as it expanded to become the nation’s largest producer of natural gas in 2017, arrived at a petrochemical industry conference in Pittsburgh Friday morning with a blunt message about shale gas drilling and fracking. The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions,” Schlotterbeck, who left the helm of EQT last year, continued. “In fact, I’m not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change.” While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “The industry is self-destructive.” Schlotterbeck is not the first industry insider to ring alarm bells about the shale industry’s record of producing vast amounts of gas while burning through far more cash than it can earn by selling that gas. And drillers’ own numbers speak for themselves. Reported spending outweighed income for a group of 29 large public shale gas companies by $6.7 billion in 2018, bringing the group’s 2010 to 2018 cash flow to a total of negative $181 billion, according to a March 2019 report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. But Schlotterbeck’s remarks, delivered to petrochemical and gas industry executives at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, come from an individual uniquely positioned to understand how major Marcellus drillers make financial decisions — because he so recently ran a major shale gas drilling firm. Schlotterbeck now serves as a member of the board of directors at the Energy Innovation Center Institute, a nonprofit that offers energy industry training programs. His warnings on Friday were also offered in unusually stark terms.

‘Destroyed on Average 80 Percent of the Value of Their Companies’

The technological advancements developed by the industry have been the weapon of its own suicide,” Schlotterbeck added, referring to the financial impacts of shale gas drilling on shale gas drillers. “And unfortunately, the industry still has not fully realized how it’s killing itself. Since 2015, there’s been 172 E&P company bankruptcies involving nearly a hundred billion dollars of debt.” In a little more than a decade, most of these companies just destroyed a very large percentage of their companies’ value that they had at the beginning of the shale revolution,” he said. “It’s frankly hard to imagine the scope of the value destruction that has occurred. And it continues.” At the Friday conference, he displayed a slide showing the stock prices of eight major Marcellus shale gas drillers: Antero, Range Resources, Cabot Oil and Gas, Southwestern Energy, CNX Gas, Gulfport, Chesapeake Energy, and EQT, the company that Schlotterbeck ran until he resigned in March 2018. Seven of the eight companies saw their stock prices fall between 40 percent and 95 percent since 2008, the slide showed. Excluding capital, the big eight basin producers have destroyed on average 80 percent of the value of their companies since the beginning of the shale revolution,” Schlotterbeck said. “This is not the fall from the peak price during the shale decade, this is the drop in their share price from before the shale revolution began.” The fact is that every time they put the drill bit to the ground, they erode the value of the billions of  More recently, shale gas producers have begun to feel the heat from investors who are pushing to see signs that the gas can be produced not just in high volume, but also at a profit. As a result of investor pressure, all these companies have committed to lower growth rates and to live within cash flow,” said Schlotterbeck. He noted that the drillers had slashed their gas production growth forecasts from over 20 percent down to 11 percent this year. “Yet both the gas commodity market and the equities market are saying this is not nearly enough of a cut.” Over the past year or so, most of the producers have shifted away from the phenomenal growth rates of the past to more moderate growth projections,” Schlotterbeck said. “The market is clearly telling them that they haven’t slowed down enough.”

Frackers Projected Returns ‘Should Not Exist’ — and Don’t

Reality indicates to me that there’s a lot of these companies that still don’t get it,” he said. “They still think they’re gonna earn 40, 50, 60 percent returns on their investment, even after six years now of saying that and getting negative returns.”

 

Trump says new sanctions on Iran to start Monday

DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would impose fresh sanctions on Iran but that he wanted to make a deal to bolster its flagging economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions following the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone this week by the Islamic Republic. On Thursday, an Iranian missile destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone, an incident that Washington said happened in international airspace. Trump later said he had called off a military strike to retaliate because it could have killed 150 people. Tehran repeated on Saturday that the drone was shot down over its territory and said it would respond firmly to any U.S. threat .Speaking in Washington on Saturday before heading to the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David, Trump indicated the government was taking a diplomatic path to put pressure on Tehran by moving to impose new sanctions. Iran lawmakers chant ‘Death to America’ as U.S. called ‘terrorist’Any conflict in region could spread: Iran general Military action was “always on the table,” the president said, but he added that he was open to quickly reaching a deal with Iran that he said would bolster the country’s flagging economy. “We will call it ‘Let’s make Iran great again,’” Trump said. He later wrote on Twitter from Camp David: “We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday. I look forward to the day that Sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again.” The Trump administration has sought to use promises of economic revival to solve other thorny foreign policy challenges, including the Israel-Palestinian peace process, with the White House outlining on Saturday a plan to create a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab state economies.

Trump says the United States does not want war

Trump  warns Iran it would face ‘obliteration’ if conflict broke out, as aids reveal the president agonized over the decision to launch attacks

President Trump has said the United States does not want a war but warned Iran it would face 'obliteration' if conflict broke out, as senior aids reveal how he agonized over the decision of whether to launch attacks against three Iranian sites President Trump has said the United States does not want a war but warned Iran it would face ‘obliteration’ if conflict broke out, as senior aids reveal how he agonized over the decision of whether to launch attacks against three Iranian sites. Speaking about his decision to NBC on Friday evening, Trump said the US was open to renewed talks with Iran but the possibility of them developing nuclear weapons was out of the question.  And warned Iran that if conflict does come, there will be ‘obliteration like you’ve never seen before,’ before adding ‘but I’m not looking to do that,’ the president told NBC’s Chuck Todd for ‘Meet the Press.’ Trump said Friday he was ready to attack the sites on Thursday night but he called off the strikes after learning the assault would kill an estimated 150 innocent people. ‘We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,’ he said in tweets, ‘not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.’ President Trump has said the United States does not want a war but warned Iran it would face ‘obliteration’ if conflict broke out, as senior aids reveal how he agonized over the decision of whether to launch attacks against three Iranian sites The president gave further insight into his tough decision not to launch attacks against the Iranian sites, adding: ‘I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was proportionate.’ ‘I thought about it for a second and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead,’ he told NBC. Tehran claimed that it had received a warning via the Gulf state of Oman that an attack was imminent and that Trump wanted to talk to Iran directly. There was no confirmation of that claim from the US.  Tensions have continued to surmount between the two countries, with the US accusing Iran of attack oil tankers in the region, after Iran announced it would soon exceed international agreed limits on its nuclear programme (Iran says the above are debris from a downed US drone recovered inside its territorial waters) The US has now asked the UN Security Council to meet on Monday to discuss Iran.  ‘We have additional avenues of sanctions pressure to impose. We have got additional sanctions for sure,’ a senior administration official said, according to CNN. ‘I would not say that the President is thinking about military options. The primary thing we’re thinking about is additional sanctions.’ This official cautioned, however, that the President has not taken military action entirely off the table. ‘That’s an option the President maintains

Iran says it will respond firmly to any U.S. threat as tension spikes

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday it would respond firmly to any U.S. threat against it, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, amid escalating tension between Tehran and Washington over the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone by the Islamic Republic. On Thursday, an Iranian missile destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone. Tehran said the drone was shot down over its territory and Washington said it had occurred in international airspace. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for Iran’s downing of the U.S. drone because it could have killed 150 people, and signalled he was open to talks with Tehran. Iran has vowed to defend its borders. “Regardless of any decision they (U.S. officials) make… we will not allow any of Iran’s borders to be violated. Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America,” foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Tasnim. Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted despite Trump saying that he has no appetite to go to war with Iran. Tehran has also said it is not seeking a war but has warned of a “crushing” response if attacked. A senior Arab diplomat said the sharply increased tensions would further harm  “De-escalation is very important because tempers are flaring … It’s very important we avoid confrontation right now,” the senior diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “Confrontation, whatever we think about Trump or Iran, will be disastrous for everyone.” “Any mistake by Iran’s enemies, in particular America and its regional allies, would be like firing at a powder keg that will burn America, its interests and its allies to the ground,” the senior spokesman of Iran’s Armed Forces, Abolfazl Shekarchi, told Tasnim on Saturday. Tensions began to worsen significantly when Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers and reimposed sanctions on the country. The sanctions had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.

Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump warning

Already poor relations between Tehran and Washington got worse Thursday morning after Iranian air defence forces shot down a US spy drone they said was operating in Iranian airspace. US President Donald Trump  issued a multipart statement on Friday morning confirming that he had “stopped” a military strike against three sites in Iran after finding out that about 150 people would die in the attack. The tweets followed earlier reports by US media that Trump had reportedly approved an attack on Iran in response to Thursday’s drone shoot-down, but backtracked at the last minute.

Trump said ten minutes before the strike was set to be carried out, he “stopped it,” saying it was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

“I am in no hurry,” Trump said, boasting that the US military has been rebuilt and was “ready to go,” and that anti-Iranian sanctions were “biting” and that more have been added after the drone shootdown incident. In the tweets, Trump also accused his predecessor Barrack Obama of making a “desperate and terrible deal with Iran,” accusing him of giving them a “free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON.” According to the US president, his decision to terminate the deal and to impose tough sanctions have left Iran a “much weakened nation” that was economically “Bust!”

Huge fire rips through Philadelphia refinery, no casualties reported

(Reuters) – Fire ripped through a Pennsylvania oil refinery early on Friday, triggering a huge explosion that local media said rocked homes several miles away. Video footage showed the 335,000-barrels-per-day Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, where another fire broke out 11 days ago, engulfed in flames. There were no immediate reports of casualties at the complex, which NBC Philadelphia said employs around 1,000 people. It quoted officials as saying the fire had been contained. The crude section at the Girard Point portion of the refinery was shut down due to the fire, intelligence provider Genscape said. Philadelphia Energy Solutions spokespeople were not immediately available for comment. Nearby roads were closed and thick smoke blanketed most of central and south Philadelphia, NBC Philadelphia said. “Philadelphia Fire Department is asking residents and businesses east of the fire location in south Philadelphia to shelter in place until further notice,” the City of Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management said in a tweet. Three fire stations and a hazardous materials response crew were mobilised, a fire department official said. Fire broke out on June 10 at the same refinery, which according to a source familiar with plant operations affected a 50,000-barrels-per-day catalytic cracking unit.

Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: “Let’s see what happens,” President Trump said Thursday after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone.
© Erin Schaff/The New York Times “Let’s see what happens,” President Trump said Thursday after Iran shot…

WASHINGTON — President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions. As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations. Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said. The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the president’s third military action against targets in the Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018. It was not clear whether Mr. Trump simply changed his mind on the strikes or whether the administration altered course because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward. Nick  Bit: That will show them  who is boss. Talk about a loser. commander and wimp

U.S. Expected to Strike Back for Iran’s Downing of Drone

Trump: ‘Iran made a big mistake

The US is  likely to take military action against Iran in the coming days for Tehran’s downing a U.S. drone in international airspace on Wednesday near the Strait of Hormuz. The Central Command said an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace around 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday. President Trump suggested retaliation for the attack is coming. “Iran made a very big mistake,” the president tweeted. Later during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Trump was asked about a military strike against Iran and repeated that Iran “made a very big mistake” because the drone was flying over international waters. “Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly,” he said. “We have it all documented scientifically, not just words. And they made a very bad mistake.” Trump suggested that the drone was mistakenly shot down and noted that “I have a big, big feeling” an Iranian air defense operator erred in attacking the drone, someone “loose and stupid who did it.” Asked what will come next, the president said “You’ll find out.” Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of Central Command air forces, said the RQ-4 drone was conducting surveillance over the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace near recent IRGC attacks on two tankers. The drone was struck by an IRGC surface-to-air missile fired from a base near Goruk, Iran, he said. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace at any time during its mission,” Guastella said in a statement. “This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce.” The three-star general also said that Iran falsely claimed the aircraft was shot down over Iran. “The aircraft was over the Strait of Hormuz and fell into international waters.” “At the time of the intercept, the RQ-4 was operating at high-altitude approximately 34 kilometers from the nearest point of land on the Iranian coast,” he said. “This dangerous and escalatory attack was irresponsible and occurred in the vicinity of established air corridors between Dubai, UAE, and Muscat Oman, possibly endangering innocent civilians.” “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” said CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.” Tensions have increased with Iran since last week when the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Tehran’s shock troops, were caught removing a limpet mine from the hull of a Japanese tanker that had been hit by other mines the United States has concluded came from Iran. “They would be making a big mistake if they doubted the president’s resolve on this,” Bolton added, echoing the president’s tweet. The latest confrontation sent crude oil prices higher over concerns of a new Middle East war. Oil prices increased more than $3 to $63 a barrel, Reuters reports. Options are expected to range from covert action against Iranian military targets using special forces commandos to airstrikes against Iranian bases. The administration is weighing what it regards as proportional responses to recent Iranian actions. That would likely mean an airstrike against Iranian air defense batteries located near the Strait of Hormuz that were involved in shooting down the Global Hawk drone.

Pentagon: New US Troop Deployment to Middle East to Include Patriot Missiles, Drones

The Pentagon revealed Wednesday that the US’ latest troop deployment to the Middle East will also include a Patriot Missile battalion, drones and manned surveillance aircraft. Additionally, the Pentagon has indicated that it doesn’t want war with Iran, but that it is “postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region,” Reuters reported. The latest development comes days after then acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday that the US would be sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East to counter alleged Iranian aggression. In a statement released at the time, Shanahan stated that the servicemembers would be used “for defensive purposes to address air, naval and ground-based threats” in the region. “The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy group that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” the statement adds. The Monday reveal in addition to the previous deployment of a US aircraft carrier strike group earlier this year was prompted by the US’ claims that Iran was to blame for the recent attacks on oil tankers in the region. Iran has repeatedly rejected the notion that it had anything to do with the strikes. Relations between the US and Iran have largely remained at a simmer since the US opted to pull out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an act which subsequently triggered the restart of a series of sanctions.

Iran Revolutionary Guard shoots down US drone amid tensions

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk on Thursday, June 20, 2019, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident. (Airman 1st Class D. Blake Browning/U.S. Air Force via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone on Thursday amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over the collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident. The Guard said it shot down the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone over Iranian airspace, while the U.S. said the downing happened over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz. The different accounts could not be immediately reconciled. The U.S. military’s Central Command called it an “unprovoked attack” and President Donald Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake” in shooting it down. Previously, the U.S. military alleged that Iran had fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. blames Iran for the attack on the ships; Tehran denies it was involved.

Oil prices jump as downed U.S. drone stokes Middle East tensions

DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran has shot down a U.S. drone which the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday was flying over southern Iran, raising fears that a major military confrontation could erupt between Tehran and Washington. Guards website Sepah News said the “spy” drone was brought down over the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan, which is on the Gulf. While Iran’s state news agency IRNA carried the same report, identifying the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk, a U.S. official said a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton had been shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.. The MQ-4C Triton’s manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, says on its website that the Triton can fly for over 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles. The U.S. military has in recent days confirmed an attempt by Iran to shoot down a U.S. drone last week as well as the successful shooting down of one on June 6 by Iran-aligned Houthi forces in Yemen. A senior Iranian security official said on Wednesday Iran would “strongly respond” to any violation of its airspace. “Our airspace is our red line and Iran has always responded and will continue to respond strongly to any country that violates our airspace,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security council as saying. Tension between Iran and the United States has spiked since last year when President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and reimposed sanctions on it. Concern about a military confrontation has increased since attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week and on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on May 12, both near the Strait of Hormuz, a major conduit for global oil supplies. The United States and its regional ally, Saudi Arabia, blamed Iran for the incidents. Iran has denied responsibility. The U.S. military has sent forces, including aircraft carriers, B-52 bombers and troops to the Middle East. However, Trump said he does not seek war with Iran. Iran said last week that it was responsible for the security of the Strait of Hormuz, calling on American forces to leave the Gulf. In protest at Trump’s “maximum pressure”, in May Iran said it would start enriching uranium at a higher level unless other European signatories to the nuclear deal protected its economy from the U.S. sanctions within 60 days.

EIA data show first U.S. crude-supply decline in 3 weeks

Bloomberg News

Oil futures turned higher Wednesday after a U.S. government snapshot of crude supplies revealed a larger-than-expected drawdown in crude stockpiles, the first in three weeks. The market also digested news that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies will now hold their ministerial meetings on July 1 and July 2. They had previously been scheduled for June 25-26, but analysts said some producers wanted the meetings to follow the Group of 20 leaders summit held of June 28-29.“Middle East conflict is sure to influence crude prices, with a frenetic end to the month of June as the G20 meeting and more details to emerge on the possibility of an extension to the OPEC+ supply cut agreement,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at Oanda, in an email update. West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery CLN19, -0.45% rose 22 cents, or 0.4%, to $54.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The July contract, which expires at Thursday’s settlement, had been trading lower ahead of the supply data. August Brent crude BRNQ19, -0.19%  added 14 cents, or 0.2% to $62.28 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. It wrapped up Tuesday at $62.14, the highest settlement in a week. The Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that U.S. crude supplies fell by 3.1 million barrels for the week ended June 14. That followed two consecutive weeks of gains.  The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday reported an 812,000-barrel fall, according to sources. The EIA data also showed that gasoline inventories were down 1.7 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles edged lower by 600,000 barrels last week. The S&P Global Platts survey had shown expectations for supply increases of 1 million barrels each for gasoline and distillates. Broader financial market action continues to color energy market sentiment. Tuesday’s oil-price gains came after a tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump suggested progress in trade talks with China, lifting benchmark stock indexes and easing concerns over energy demand.

Iraq’s Contingency Plan If US-Iran Standoff Blocks Its Oil Exports

Iraq

Iraq is looking to draft contingency plans in case the heightened tension in the Middle East results in some kind of blockade of Iraq’s oil exports through the Persian Gulf—a key lane for almost all of the exports of OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP on Monday. “There is no replacement for the southern port and our other alternatives are limited. It’s a source of anxiety for the global oil market,” Jihad told AFP on Monday. Tensions in the Gulf and in the Middle East have dramatically risen since Thursday, when two oil tankers were apparently attacked in the Gulf of Oman, just outside the Strait of Hormuz which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the open seas. The daily flows of oil through the Strait of Hormuz account for around 30 percent of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids.  Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted early on Thursday that “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” referring to the attacks, while the United States directly blamed Iran for the attacks.

The Persian Gulf and then the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has repeatedly threatened to block, are the key export routes of more than 3 million bpd of Iraqi crude oil from its southern ports lying on the Persian Gulf. According to officials who spoke to Reuters last month, Iraq’s exports from the Gulf ports averaged 3.454 million bpd in May.

Cutting off Iraq’s crude oil exports would be disastrous for the country, which relies very much on oil revenues for its budget income, so the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are the lifelines of Iraqi state revenues, industry analyst Ruba Husari told AFP. If Iran tried and closed the Strait of Hormuz, “it’s not going to be closed for long,” U.S. President Donald Trump told Fox & Friends in an interview on Friday, in which he also directly blamed Iran for Thursday’s attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman. “We’re going to guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the straits,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. Iran said on Monday that the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, “said his country is strong enough to act in broad daylight if it intends to stop the flow of oil exports from the Persian Gulf, rejecting accusations about Iran’s involvement in the recent sabotage attacks on 2 oil tankers in the Sea of Oman.” “He added that the Iranian Armed Forces are at present monitoring the enemies’ moves wisely, precisely and round the clock and will give a crushing and open response to any enemy move and in a very broad region,” Iran’s Fars news agency reports.

Trump stages his greatest show yet

Donald and Melania Trump, Mike and Karen Pence
The president’s elaborate reelection rally in Florida featured thousands of adoring supporters.

ORLANDO, Fla. — It was everything Donald Trump wanted, and so much more. The optics-obsessed president was greeted by thousands of adoring supporters when he arrived here on Tuesday to kick off his bid for a second term. In lieu of a red carpet, a sea of red, white and camouflage hats provided the backdrop for his first official campaign rally of the 2020 cycle.As soon as Trump took the stage in his signature red tie, the crowd seemed pleased to have waited. They greeted him with “USA” chants as he recalled the “movement” he started four years ago. “It turned out to be more than just a great political campaign. It turned out to be a great political movement because of you,” the president said, echoing the same nationalist message that became a staple of his first presidential run. “It’s a movement made up of people … who believe that a nation must care for its own citizens first.” Fans camped out since dusk on Monday to secure a spot inside the 20,000-seat Amway Center. They began chanting familiar slogans as anticipation built for the evening’s main act and familiar characters took the stage. Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., riled up the crowd with a series of attacks against Joe Biden, a telling sign that his father views the former vice president as his likeliest opponent. Vice President Mike Pence promised the crowd that four more years “means more jobs, more judges … and at least four more years to drain the swamp.” Trump picked up where his vice president left off as he took the mic, ticking through the items he can accomplish if granted another term and highlighting what he’s done so far. He talked about passing a criminal justice bill and healthcare reforms for veterans, doubling the child tax credit for American families and confronting the opioid crisis. “Together we’re breaking the most sacred rule of Washington politics: We are keeping our promises to the American people,” he said. But the president couldn’t help but focus on the trials of his first White House bid, too — time he might have otherwise spent targeting his current Democratic opponents. Trump’s re-election launch — with an all-day tailgate party beforehand and a festival-like feel — borrowed a key ingredient from the unorthodox announcement speech he delivered four years ago: Nothing about it was normal, but it was a captivating show. “The days of stealing American jobs and American companies, American ideas and wealth —those days are over,” Trump boldly declared. He argued that the economy was booming thanks to his administration’s deregulatory agenda and the GOP-led tax cuts; that undocumented immigration was finally being confronted thanks to his forceful approach and negotiations with Mexico; and that America was respected again by its allies and adversaries because of his no-nonsense attitude toward foreign leaders. “We’ve made America great again, but how do you give up the number one theme, logo, statement in politics? There’s a new one that really works, and that’s called ‘Keep America Great,’” Trump said, encouraging his supporters to embrace the new slogan. The president repeated his “no collusion” refrain Tuesday night, claiming that the Mueller report on Russian election interference was a “win” for him, even as House Democrats tighten their grip on multiple congressional investigations into his actions before and after becoming president. On Tuesday night, he assured his supporters that he had already fulfilled many of those promises and could do even more if they delivered him four more years. He gave them a show they’ll talk about for weeks and one that he will try to replicate again and again over the next 17 months — a ride that many expect to be every bit as unpredictable as 2016, but the same in so many other ways. “We are one movement, one people, one family and one glorious nation under God. And together we will make America wealthy again, we will make America strong again, we will make America safe again and we will make America great again,” Trump said, exiting the stage to the same Rolling Stones tune that has closed so many of his rallies since 2016.

China Warns of Unpredictable Consequences Amid US Troop Deployment to Middle East

US Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan previously announced that the Pentagon had greenlighted the deployment of an additional 1,000 troops, citing “defensive purposes”. China has warned against opening Mideast ‘Pandora’s box’ after the United States authorised the dispatching of additional military personnel to the Middle East “to address air, naval, and ground-based threats” in the region, according to AFP. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated following a press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem that Beijing is urging Tehran to keep its commitments under the nuclear deal, and has warned against scrapping the pact ‘so easily’. Wang noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed on multiple occasions that the Islamic Republic has remained committed to its obligations under the nuclear treaty. “The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed 15 times that Iran fulfills its obligations under the JCPOA. In the existing situation we hope that Iran will very thoroughly contemplate its decision and will not reject the deal so easily”, Wang said at a press conference held after his talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. Wang Yi added that China remains firmly committed to protect the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, including through cooperation with other signatories for the sake of Arak nuclear reactor modernisation. “China’s commitment to protect the JCPOA remains unchanged. As a specific measure, China will closely cooperate with all the sides in order to reach progress in modernising the Arak nuclear reactor”, Wang said at a press conference held after his talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. His comment came one day after the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced that the country would in late June exceed the enriched uranium stockpile limit outlined in the JCPOA, while it could also exceed the heavy water stockpile limit and the level of uranium enrichment specified in the deal. Iran first announced that it would start suspending some of its voluntary commitments under the JCPOA within 60 days on 8 May – exactly one year after the US unilaterally pulled out from the deal and decided to reinstate all sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, was signed in 2015 by Iran and the P5+1 nations — Russia, the US, China, France, the UK plus Germany — after years of tense negotiations. The multilateral accord sought to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for the gradual lifting of economic sanctions on Tehran.

Trump would consider military force vs Iran to prevent nuclear weapon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump would consider using military force to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon but left open the question if it involved protecting oil supplies, he told Time magazine in an interview published on Tuesday. Striking a different tone than some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military response, Trump told Time the impact of the recent attacks on Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman had been “very minor” so far. Asked whether he would consider military action against Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons or ensure the free flow of oil through the gulf, the president said, “I would certainly go over nuclear weapons, and I would keep the other a question mark.” The United States has blamed Iran for the tanker attacks, citing as evidence a series of images showing an Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of the Japanese oil tanker attacked on June 13. Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Monday the United States was deploying about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for defensive purposes, citing concerns about the threat from Iran. Tensions have been stoking between Washington and Tehran since the Trump administration decided last year to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic republic. Concerns about a possible confrontation between the two countries have been growing since last week’s tanker attacks. Iran said on Monday it would soon breach internationally agreed curbs on its stock of low-enriched uranium in 10 days, despite calls for it to abide by the limits. Trump said he agreed with U.S. intelligence assessments that Iran was behind the tanker attacks, but he said Tehran had been less hostile toward the United States since he became president. “If you look at the rhetoric now compared to the days when they were signing that agreement (the 2015 Iran nuclear deal), where it was always ‘death to America, death to America, we will destroy America, we will kill America,’ I’m not hearing that too much anymore,” Trump told Time. “And I don’t expect to.”

OPEC+ proposes mid-July meeting to settle dispute over dates

TEHRAN, LONDON and CAIRO (Bloomberg) — OPEC proposed mid-July meetings with its allies in Vienna to discuss extending production cuts, after talks between Russia and Iran made some progress toward resolving a standoff over the date. The oil producers group, which pumps more than half the world’s crude, has been bickering for a month about the timing of ministerial talks. Their failure to agree a date just weeks before their production cuts expire gives turbulent markets little reassurance as crude prices extend their slump. After discussions with his Russian counterpart on Monday, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said he was willing to hold a meeting on July 10 to 12, a week later than most other members had wanted. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries formally proposed those dates to members on Tuesday and said it would await their responses, according to a delegate from the group. While this marked a small victory for Zanganeh, Iran had to drop its previous insistence that OPEC should gather next week. “I don’t have a problem with July 10 to 12,” Zanganeh told reporters in Tehran on Monday. “I cannot meet 3rd or 4th of July. It’s not that I’m opposed to it, I can’t meet then.” Five delegates from the group, who asked not to be named while discussing internal deliberations, said on Monday that they weren’t certain that Iran’s proposal would be accepted by other members. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said he is ready to consider holding the meeting on July 10 to 12, but hasn’t yet discussed the dates with his Saudi counterpart Khalid Al-Falih, according to reports from Interfax and RIA Novosti. The original request to shift the date of the meeting from June to July came from Russia, which despite being an outsider has exerted a strong influence over the group since joining forces almost three years ago. Differences over the timing began as a mere scheduling clash, but escalated rapidly into a diplomatic spat that pitted long-standing regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran against each other. The dispute played out amid a broader geopolitical confrontation as the Saudis — and the U.S.– accused Iran of complicity in attacks on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on June 13. Iran, which is under U.S. sanctions, denied culpability. Algeria, like Iran, initially opposed pushing the meeting to July, saying the new date would conflict with a planned election in the North African country. The Algerians later canceled their July 4 vote, leaving Iran as the sole holdout against the rescheduled meeting. Zanganeh, when asked about Russian minister Novak‘s response to his proposal for July 10-12, said: “He’s not the decision maker, the decision maker is OPEC and OPEC must reach a consensus.” Novak left the meeting in Tehran without speaking to reporters. For all the uncertainty over the meeting date, OPEC and its allies appear to be heading for an extension of their production cuts amid doubts about the strength of global demand as the economy shows signs of slowing. Saudi minister Al-Falih said earlier this month that he was “sure” the curbs will continue beyond June. “There will not be room for the cartel to increase output for the rest of 2019 in our view,” Rystad Energy’s Chief Oil Market Analyst Bjornar Tonhaugen said in a note on Tuesday. “As non-OPEC+ adds more supply than global demand is increasing by, OPEC+ will still be pressured to manage production in order to balance the global market.”

Trump calls attacks on oil tankers ‘very minor,’ but says he’d go to war with Iran over nuclear weapons

Trump calls attacks on oil tankers 'very minor,' but says he'd go to war with Iran over nuclear weapons
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President Trump called an oil tanker attack the U.S. has blamed on Iran “very minor” but said in an interview with Time Magazine he would be willing to go to war to prevent the nation from acquiring nuclear weapons. Trump was noncommittal on whether protecting international oil supplies would be a justification for war, telling the magazine “I would certainly go over nuclear weapons, and I would keep the other a question mark.” Trump told the magazine the Gulf of Oman, where the attack occurred, is less strategically important to the U.S. than it has been in years past, adding it was more relevant to Chinese and Japanese interests. “Other places get such vast amounts of oil there,” Trump told the magazine. “We get very little. We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy.” Trump added that while he agreed with assessments blaming Iran for the attack, he believed Iran’s government has been less hostile toward the U.S. since his inauguration. “If you look at the rhetoric now compared to the days when they were signing [the 2015 nuclear deal], where it was always ‘death to America, death to America, we will destroy America, we will kill America,’ I’m not hearing that too much anymore,” he said. The comments come after several days of the Pentagon and State Department indicating all options are on the table in response to the Thursday attack, for which Iran has denied responsibility. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that the U.S. is looking at “a full range of options,” including a potential military response, and is scheduled to visit U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, on Tuesday. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, meanwhile, announced Monday evening the Defense Department has authorized the deployment of about 1,000 additional troops to the region for “defensive purposes.” “The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” he said in a statement. The U.K. and Saudi Arabia have said they agree with the U.S. assessment, but Germany’s foreign minister has said the U.S. must present further evidence. The owner of one of the two ships involved in the attack has also contradicted the U.S. account. In recent months, Iran has announced it will scale back some of its commitments under the 2015 deal, with Trump withdrew the U.S. from more than a year ago.

US preparing “assault” against Iran

An American guided missile cruiser fires a tomahawk missile during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq [Credit: US Navy]
The Pentagon announced on Monday that the US is sending 1,000 additional troops and other military resources to the Middle East amid belligerent threats against Iran by the Trump administration. The troop movement follows the previous deployment of the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier and its battle group to the Persian Gulf, along with a bomber strike group led by nuclear capable B-52s. An article from the Israeli website Maariv Online, republished in the Jerusalem Post, reported that the Trump administration is actively preparing a “tactical assault” on Iran. The report, based on diplomatic sources at the UN in New York, stated that “since Friday, the White House has been holding incessant discussions involving senior military commanders, Pentagon representatives and advisers to President Donald Trump.” According to Maariv Online, the unnamed officials said that “the military action under consideration would be an aerial bombardment of an Iranian facility linked to its nuclear program.” A Western diplomat commented: “The bombing will be massive but will be limited to one target.” Announcing the troop deployment, acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan stated: “The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behaviour by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region.” He then absurdly added: “The United States does not seek conflict with Iran.” In reality, the current explosive situation in the Persian Gulf is entirely of Washington’s manufacture. In breach of UN resolutions, the Trump administration unilaterally abrogated the 2015 deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany to limit its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. The US subsequently re-imposed and strengthened its crippling sanctions on Iran aimed at cutting off all oil exports and collapsing the Iranian economy. It also threatened to take punitive economic measures against companies breaching its unilateral sanctions. Washington’s actions amount to an economic blockade of Iran and an act of war. With US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the lead, the Trump administration is exploiting attacks on two tankers in the Persian Gulf last Thursday as the pretext for threatening to strike Iran. On Sunday, Pompeo declared that the US was “considering a full range of options,” including “a military response.” The UN sources quoted in the Jerusalem Post article claimed that Trump himself had not been enthusiastic, but had lost his patience and given the green light to Pompeo, who has been pushing for action. Pompeo is due to travel today to US Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters in Florida. He will meet with two top military leaders—CENTCOM commander General Kenneth McKenzie and General Richard Clarke, head of the Special Operations Command—to “discuss regional security concerns and operations.” CNN noted that the visit was “unusual” as Pompeo was not accompanied by acting US Defence Secretary Shanahan, who was remaining in Washington to “continue to develop options.” The US has also seized on Iranian statements on Monday warning that its low-level enrichment of uranium will exceed the limit set under the 2015 agreement within 10 days to further wind up tensions. Speaking to the media on Monday, US National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis branded Iran’s actions as “nuclear blackmail” and insisted it must be met with “increasing international pressure.”

EU Cautious About Gulf Tensions; Frets About Iran Nuclear Deal

E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the Munich Security Conference in 2016. (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images)

Berlin (CNSNews.com) – The European Union remained tight-lipped Monday on the tense situation in the Persian Gulf region, but called for de-escalation as it continues efforts to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran. On Monday, the Iranian regime announced that it will in the coming days exceed the 300 kilogram limit of low-enriched uranium (LEU), set by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement. Not only would the limit be exceeded, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told Iranian television, but the pace of production beyond that point would be increased “drastically.” It’s the latest scaling back of Tehran’s commitments under the JCPOA, whose future has been in the balance since President Trump withdrew unilaterally in May last year. Iran previously warned the E.U. that it would increase uranium enrichment, should the E.U. fail to find a way to salvage the deal in light of restored U.S. sanctions. The move comes amid new tensions in the region, following armed incidents including attacks on tankers which the U.S. and Britain are blaming on Iran. After a meeting of E.U. foreign ministers in Brussels, E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters, “Our focus is to keep the agreement in place and keep the implementation of it.”

War with Iran would become ‘Trump’s war’

President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran. Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil travels. It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump’s reelection. It would widen the “forever war,” which Trump said he would end, to a nation of 80 million people, three times as large as Iraq. It would become the defining issue of his presidency, as the Iraq War became the defining issue of George W. Bush’s presidency. And if war comes now, it would be known as “Trump’s War.”

For it was Trump who pulled us out of the Iran nuclear deal, though, according to U.N. inspectors and the other signatories – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China – Tehran was complying with its terms. Trump’s repudiation of the treaty was followed by his reimposition of sanctions and a policy of maximum pressure. This was followed by the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist” organization. Then came the threats of U.S. secondary sanctions on nations, some of them friends and allies, that continued to buy oil from Iran. U.S. policy has been to squeeze Iran’s economy until the regime buckles to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands, including an end to Tehran’s support of its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Sunday, Pompeo said Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman and that Tehran instigated an attack that injured four U.S. soldiers in Kabul, though the Taliban claimed responsibility. “This unprovoked attack on commercial shipping warrants retaliatory military strikes,” said Sen. Tom Cotton on Sunday.

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Iran reveals it will break uranium stockpile limits dramatically ramping up tensions with Trump

 President Rouhani said his country would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium

IRAN announced today it intends to smash the strict uranium stockpile limits set under the nuclear deal it struck with the world’s leading powers. The hardline country’s shock statement is another blow to a pact already crumbling since the US’s high-profile withdrawal. President Rouhani said his country would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium “Today the countdown to pass the 300 kilograms reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days time we will pass this limit,” said Iran’s atomic energy organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi. “This is based on the Articles 26 and 36 of the (nuclear deal), and will be reversed once other parties live up to their commitments.” Kamalvandi acknowledged the country has already QUADRUPLED its production of low-enriched uranium. The news is bound to ramp up tensions between Iran and the West already at breaking point following the shock bomb attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Many international observers believe the attack was an act of “revenge” by Iran after the White House imposed crippling economic sanctions after Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal. Just last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his country would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the 2015 deal. Enriched uranium is essential for developing nuclear weapons and power stations. As part of the agreement Iran also agreed to only enrich their uranium up to 3.67 per cent over the next 15 years. In addition they were barred from building any more heavy-water faculties – a type of nuclear reactor which uses heavy water (deuterium oxide) as a coolant to maintain temperatures in the reactor.Also under the agreement the International Atomic Energy Agency was granted regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities to ensure Iran maintains the deal. The deal said that if Iran abides by it the nation would receive relief from the US, European Union, and the United Nations Security Council on all nuclear-related economic sanctions. The agreement was reached on July 14 2015 and the world powers signed it in Vienna. Iran, China, France, Russia, UK, USA, Germany and the EU all signed up to the deal.. Under the agreement, Iran pledged to reduce its nuclear capacities and allow inspectors inside the country to monitor its activities in return for relief from international sanctions. The deal set a limit on the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges, and restricted its right to enrich uranium to no higher than 3.67 per cent -well below weapons-grade levels of around 90 per On Sunday Mike Pompeo revealed America is now “considering a full range of options” including using its mighty military amid the rising tensions. The US Secretary of State spoke out after he accused the hardline state of launching the tanker attacks.

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“The United States is considering a full range of options. We have briefed the President a couple of times, we’ll continue to keep him updated,” he said. “We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence which is our mission set,” Pompeo said in an interview on CBS’s Face The Nation. When questioned if a military response was one of the options, Pompeo responded: “Of course.”

Abu Dhabi and Saudi oil-security infrastructure is itself a target

Saudi Arabia announced that two pumping stations serving the pipeline system between its eastern oil province and its export terminal at Yanbu, on the western coast, had suffered a drone attack and had to be put out of service temporarily. The targets of these two attacks are particularly relevant to global oil market security as they are, in themselves, oil-export security infrastructure built by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to reduce their reliance on tanker shipping in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz.  Fujairah is an oil export terminal and bunkering centre for tanker traffic in and out of the Persian Gulf region. In the 2000s, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company built a pipeline linking its crude oil production and treatment facilities near the Persian Gulf across the country to its eastern port of Fujairah, on the Gulf of Oman. Along with sizeable investments in oil storage and export infrastructure, this pipeline significantly reduced the UAE’s dependence on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz for its oil exports, opening an export route directly onto the Indian Ocean. It also allowed for the emergence of Fujairah as a successful bunkering services provider, competing with Singapore for Asia-bound tanker traffic. Therefore, the attack on Fujairah shows that the UAE’s investment in bypassing the Strait of Hormuz is not immune to security risks. The same is true of the reported drone attack on two pumping stations that are part of the east-to-west pipeline system across Saudi Arabia, which was claimed by Yemeni Houthi forces. This pipeline system – sometimes called Petroline – has been built and upgraded in stages, since the 1990s, to service oil refineries and an export terminal on the Red Sea port of Yanbu. Similar to the Abu Dhabi-to-Fujairah one, the Petroline pipeline reduces Saudi Arabia’s dependence on shipping via the Gulf and Hormuz for its oil exports. The attack of Tuesday 14 April does not nullify the security logic for this infrastructure, but shows that the insurance bought by Saudi Arabia against shipping disruptions in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz is itself subject to security risks.