Ian's Feed
Feb 15, 2012

U.N. nuclear agency set for high-stakes Iran talks

VIENNA (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog sent its top brass to an Iranian embassy event in Vienna last week, but the goodwill gesture likely won’t be enough to win over Tehran to transparency about its nuclear activity at crunch talks in Tehran next week.

The attempt by the International Atomic Energy Agency to reach out, with the rare presence of IAEA chief Yukiya Amano and two deputies at an embassy reception marking the 1979 Islamic Revolution, was hailed as “positive” by state media in Tehran.

Feb 6, 2012

Iran boosts nuclear work in bunker: diplomats

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran is believed to be expanding uranium enrichment activity deep inside a mountain, diplomatic sources said Monday, a move likely to add to tension with Western powers that suspect Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons capability.

The move to increase sensitive nuclear work at the Fordow underground site near the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Qom, even if expected, underlines the Islamic state’s defiance in the face of intensifying Western pressure to curb such activity.

Feb 6, 2012

U.N. nuclear talks in Tehran: frustrated hopes

VIENNA (Reuters) – After two days of rare and intensive talks in Tehran, senior U.N. nuclear officials may have felt they were finally making headway towards getting Iran to address suspicions that it is bent on developing the ability to make atom bombs.

Then, on the evening before the third and final session of last week’s meetings in the Iranian capital, the visiting U.N. nuclear watchdog delegation was handed an envelope that dealt a blow to any hopes of substantive progress.

Feb 6, 2012
via Breakingviews

World not ending – except maybe for shipping

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By Ian Campbell

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

According to a popular, although probably erroneous, reading of an ancient Mayan calendar, the end of the world is scheduled for Dec. 21, 2012. A look at the Baltic Dry Index, which reflects commodity shipping rates, might suggest the Mayan doomsday is indeed at hand. The measure of bulk shipping costs plunged in 2008, warning of the 2009 global recession. On Feb. 3 it closed below its 2008 low.

Feb 3, 2012

Nuclear experts barred from Iran site: diplomats

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran’s apparent reluctance to let U.N. inspectors visit a military site near Tehran underlines the uphill task they face in convincing the Islamic state to address suspicions it may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons, Western diplomats say.

They say the U.N. nuclear watchdog sought access to the Parchin complex during three days of talks in the Iranian capital, so far without any sign that Iran would agree to it.

Feb 3, 2012
via Breakingviews

Euro’s bounce can’t last

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

It was supposed to be the year of the U.S. dollar. So, perhaps inevitably, the euro has opened the year well, rising from $1.27 in mid-January to $1.32 now. It has been supported by the flood of fresh European Central Bank liquidity, some encouraging reforms in Italy, the prospect of Greek debt reduction and the threat of a third round of money printing by a Federal Reserve still concerned about U.S. growth. But Europe’s fundamental economic problems remain unresolved – and are likely to drag the euro down before long.

Feb 2, 2012

Little new in IAEA-Iran talks: diplomats

VIENNA (Reuters) – U.N. nuclear experts’ talks in Iran appear to have made little concrete progress, diplomats said on Thursday, setting the stage for a crucial second round this month over Western fears Tehran may aim to build atomic weapons.

Three days of discussions in Tehran which ended on Tuesday were a rare direct dialogue in the long-running international dispute, which has deepened as the West pursues a punitive embargo on Iranian oil and Tehran threatens retaliation. There are fears the confrontation could lead to a military conflict.

Jan 28, 2012

IAEA team heads to Iran to seek nuclear answers

VIENNA, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Senior United Nations
nuclear inspectors headed to Tehran on Saturday to press Iranian
officials to address suspicions that the Islamic state is
seeking atomic weapons.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency hopes Iran,
which has indicated readiness to discuss the issue for the first
time since 2008, will end years of stonewalling on intelligence
pointing to an intention to develop nuclear arms technology.

Jan 26, 2012
via Breakingviews

UK’s problem: it’s the best in Europe

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By Ian Campbell

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

UK GDP stalled in the fourth quarter, contracting by 0.2 percent. That’s bad. But which major west European economy will perform best in 2012? It’s the UK again, the IMF predicted this week.

Jan 26, 2012

IAEA talks in Tehran to test Iran’s nuclear defiance

VIENNA (Reuters) – A rare visit by senior U.N. nuclear inspectors next week raises pressure on Iran to address suspicions it is trying to develop atomic weapons, though Western powers that are piling on sanctions expect no significant breakthrough.

How Tehran deals with the International Atomic Energy Agency may offer pointers to prospects for resolving a long-running dispute that an oil embargo and threats of war, along with talk of Iran closing in on nuclear weapons capability and the U.S. presidential election calendar, have escalated to crisis level.