Iran Nuclear NewsOil rises as Iran vows to pursue atomic work

Oil rises as Iran vows to pursue atomic work

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Reuters: Oil rose to almost $72 a barrel on Monday as Iran vowed to pursue its nuclear program, inviting possible sanctions against the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter. By Alex Lawler

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil rose to almost $72 a barrel on Monday as Iran vowed to pursue its nuclear program, inviting possible sanctions against the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter.

Iran’s supreme leader on Monday said the Islamic Republic would press on with its nuclear work. Iran had said it would respond formally by Tuesday to Western incentives to halt nuclear enrichment.

“The market is saying, my God, there are going to be sanctions and it may involve oil,” said Deborah White, oil analyst at Societe Generale.

U.S. crude was up 71 cents at $71.85 a barrel by 1454 GMT. London Brent crude rose $1.10 to $73.40.

The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran halt its nuclear work by a second deadline of August 31, raising the prospect of punitive action by the U.N.

“The Iranian situation is obviously going to cause some concern over the next few days,” said Kevin Norrish, oil analyst at Barclays Capital. “Overall, the downside appears to be over for the time being.”

The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany have offered incentives for Iran to suspend enrichment. Tehran, which insists its nuclear aims are purely civilian, shows no sign of accepting the package.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, was quoted on state television on Monday as saying Iran would pursue its nuclear plans.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has made its decision and, in the issue of nuclear energy, will continue its path powerfully …and it will receive the sweet fruits of its efforts,” he said.

U.S. crude has risen about 18 percent this year on concern the nuclear row could cut Iran’s exports of more than 2 million barrels per day and as violence in Nigeria reduced supplies.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Tehran denies it seeks to make bombs, saying it only wants to make electricity.

Oil traders are also watching the week-old truce between Israel and Hizbollah, which the U.N. said on Sunday could easily collapse again if the U.N. resolution that engendered it was violated further.

The conflict had boosted New York crude to a record $78.40 on July 14 on worries it could spread to oil producers in the Middle East, source of almost a third of world supply.

But prices fell back in response to the ceasefire and on Friday dipped below $70 for the first time since June.

Easing supply pressure, BP said on Friday that it had boosted output by 70,000 bpd at its Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska in the last several days to about 220,000 bpd, or about half of normal operating levels.

The supply loss from the biggest U.S. oilfield raised fears of an unexpectedly big drop in crude inventories. But data last week showed a decline that was in line with forecasts.

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