Ian's Feed
Mar 1, 2012

Third time lucky for nuclear watchdog in North Korea?

VIENNA (Reuters) – North Korea’s agreement to allow inspections of its Yongbyon nuclear plant is a welcome emergence from isolation, but far from enough to reassure the world it will give up its ambitions for nuclear weapons, diplomats and experts say.

North Korea said Wednesday it would suspend nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and enrichment of uranium at its Yongbyon facility and allow back International Atomic Energy Agency personnel. The surprise turn of events also brings U.S. food aid for the impoverished state and makes possible the resumption of six-nation nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang.

Feb 29, 2012

IAEA worried about “activities” at Iran site

VIENNA (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog believes unspecified “activities” may be taking place at Iran’s Parchin military facility that make its request to visit the site more urgent, Western diplomats said on Wednesday.

It was unclear what kind of activities the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspected, or whether it thought Iran might be trying to clean the site or conceal something ahead of a possible visit. Diplomats said the agency was monitoring the site via satellite images.

Feb 27, 2012

Iran may be “struggling” with new nuclear machines

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran is still relying on old technology to expand its nuclear program, in what may be a sign it is having difficulties developing modern machines that could speed up production of potential bomb material.

A report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog last week said Iran was significantly stepping up its uranium enrichment, a finding that sent oil prices higher on fears tensions between with the West could escalate into military conflict.

Feb 25, 2012

Iran uranium “discrepancy” still unresolved – IAEA

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has yet to clarify a discrepancy in uranium quantities at a Tehran research site, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report said, after measurements by international inspectors last year failed to match the amount declared by the laboratory.

The United States has expressed concern the material may have been diverted to suspected weapons-related research activity.

Feb 25, 2012

Iran has expanded sensitive nuclear work: U.N. agency

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has sharply stepped up its controversial uranium enrichment drive, the U.N. nuclear agency said on Friday in a report that will further inflame Israeli fears the Islamic Republic is pushing ahead with atomic bomb plans.

The nuclear watchdog also gave details of its mission to Tehran this week where Iran failed to respond to allegations of research relevant to developing nuclear arms – a blow to the possible resumption of diplomatic talks that could help calm worries about a new war in the Middle East.

Feb 24, 2012

Iran wants more UN nuclear talks after Tehran stalemate

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran wants more talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, its ambassador to the body said, despite what one Western envoy called “very long and fruitless” negotiations this week on addressing growing suspicions about Tehran’s atomic activities.

The relatively upbeat comments by Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were in stark contrast to a terse statement issued by the U.N. agency on Wednesday after the two days of discussions in Tehran.

Feb 24, 2012
via Breakingviews

Europe picks up as Commission predicts recession

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Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

There is a time lag in forecasts, especially those of big institutions like the European Commission. By the time the Commission has compiled, computed, considered and finally downgraded its forecasts to recession – it happened on Thursday – the data has started to point the other way.

Feb 23, 2012

Iran seeks to boost nuclear work in bunker: diplomats

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran is believed to be carrying out preparations to expand nuclear activity deep inside a mountain, diplomats say, in a further sign of defiance in the face of intensifying Western pressure to curb its sensitive uranium enrichment drive.

Increased capacity at the Fordow underground site would probably heighten Western suspicion of Iran’s intentions, after it last month started refining uranium there to a level that cuts the time it would need for any nuclear weapons bid.

Feb 23, 2012
via Breakingviews

Gold’s bull run is tired but maybe not over

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By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Gold, it seems, can have it both ways. Its latest charge to a three-month high is ascribed both to relief at a Greek bailout and to fear it won’t work. The bubbling precious metal has become simultaneously a speculative, risk-on play and a safe haven. That duality should keep the gold bull alive for a little while yet.

Feb 23, 2012

BREAKINGVIEWS: Gold bull’s run is tired but maybe not over

By Ian Campbell

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) – Gold, it seems, can have it both ways. Its latest charge to a three-month high is ascribed both to relief at a Greek bailout and to fear it won’t work. The bubbling precious metal has become simultaneously a speculative, risk-on play and a safe haven. That duality should keep the gold bull alive for a little while yet.

The golden beast is showing signs of fatigue. A three-month high leaves it 8 percent down on its September peak. Demand for gold rose in 2011 — but by just 0.4 percent on 2010. Ultra-high prices are weighing down jewellery consumption. India, traditionally the largest consumer of gold for jewellery, imported 44 percent less gold in the fourth quarter of 2011 than a year earlier as the rupee plunged. China overtook India as the biggest gold importer, but its demand was up a meagre 3 percent year-on-year.