Iran Daily, Jan 2: Tehran Steps Up Campaign Against Saudi Arabia Over Oil Price

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LATEST: Are US & Iran Closer to A Nuclear Agreement? Not Quite.

Iran has stepped up its campaign against Saudi Arabia over the sharp fall in global oil prices since June, with its Deputy Foreign Minister using Reuters for the latest attack.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (pictured) told the Western agency in an exclusive interview:

There are several reasons for the drop of the price of oil but Saudi Arabia can take a step to have a productive role in this situation….If Saudi does not help prevent the decrease in oil price…this is a serious mistake that will have a negative result on all countries in the region.

Iranian officials, including President Rouhani, have accused Riyadh of involvement in a “foreign plot” over the oil price, which has dropped from about $120/barrel in June to less than $55/barrel now. OPEC made no move in late November to cut production, and the Saudis reiterated last week that they will not intervene in the market.

Tehran’s interview with Reuters is a sign of the seriousness with which it views the situation: the news agency was expelled from Iran in 2012 and its bureau chief briefly detained after an article on female “ninjas” which offended the regime.

Amir Abdollahian also used the interview to repeat Iran’s denunciation of US intervention in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State. He insisted:

The reality is that the United States is not acting to eliminate Daesh [the Islamic State]. They are not even interested in weakening Daesh, they are only interested in managing it….

On the ground, where the U.S. should take serious action, there are no serious actions taking place. The US is not doing anything,

On Syria, the Deputy Foreign Minister insisted that President Assad could not be removed but must be involved in any political transition to end the 45-month conflict.


Are US & Iran Closer to A Nuclear Agreement? Not Quite.

The Associated Press excitedly declares that the US and Iran are closer to an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program, citing two unnamed diplomats.

According to the diplomats, the two sides have tentatively agreed on a formula for the shipment of Iranian nuclear material to Russia. More widely, they say Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) have drawn up a catalog of areas of potential accord and of approaches to remaining disputes.

However, the article is sketchy beyond its surface declarations. It does not specify the amount of enriched uranium that Iran will send to Russia for conversion to fuel plates and rods, merely putting the caveat from the diplomats that Tehran and the 5+1 are “still arguing about how much of an enriched uranium stockpile to leave Iran”.

The US has always demanded that the vast majority of the fuel stock be sent outside the Islamic Republic, an issue that prevented its agreement to a May 2010 offer from Tehran.

Nor does the report cover the “main conflict…over uranium enrichment”. The diplomats say that the US is demanding a limit of 4,500 centrifuges — a reduction of more than 50% in Iran’s current operating level — while Iran will not go below 8,000.

However, there is silence on the equally important issue of the level of the centrifuges. Iran wants to introduce models beyond its current 40-year-old IR-1s. It installed IR-2ms in January 2013, although it has not made them operational, and it is testing IR-4 and IR-5 models.

The US and its European allies have given no indication that they will accept any centrifuges beyond the IR-1s.

With the advanced models, Iran is seeking a vast increase in enrichment capacity — the Supreme Leader has spoken of an increase of 19 times in output. The US has refused to countenance any expansion of capacity.

Unemployment Rises to 10.5% — Almost 22% of Young Iranians Out of Work

The Census Bureau reports an increase in unemployment to 10.5% in fall 2014, with 2.52 million Iranians out of work.

The unemployment rate was 9.5% in fall 2013 and 8.5% in fall 2012.

The jobless rate is especially high among those aged 15-29, with 21.8% — a rise of 1.4% from the summer — unable to find employment.

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