Latest update: April 18th, 2012
Iran’s Oil Ministry announced on Sunday that Iran has halted oil shipments to Britain and France, in apparent retaliation against the European Union’s imposition of sanctions on Iran’s crude oil exports.
The move is considered to be largely symbolic, as Iranian oil accounted for only 3% of France’s crude imports and Britain was not even importing Iranian oil anymore. Other EU nations, like Italy, Greece, and Spain are more dependent on Iranian oil, and thus more vulnerable.
According to recent statistics, the 27-nation EU bloc accounts for approximately 18% of Iran’s crude exports.
In related news, Iran continues its defiant march to nuclear power, as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials said Iran is poised to augment its uranium enrichment program at the Fordo underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom.
IAEA inspectors explained that the move is significant because it will allow Iran to install thousands of new centrifuges, speeding up the production of enriched uranium, a main component in weaponizing nuclear power. IAEA are scheduled to arrive in Iran for another inspection on Monday.
Meanwhile, US and British officials on Sunday again warned Israel against striking Iran’s nuclear program. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said in an interview on CNN that a preemptive attack “is not prudent,” and would only set back Iran’s nuclear program a few years.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague echoed Dempsey’s assessment, saying that a military strike would not be “a wise thing,” adding that economic sanctions had to be given “a real chance.”
US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon was also in Jerusalem on Sunday meeting with key Israeli officials.
The increased diplomatic chatter reflects growing international concern that an Israeli strike is imminent, especially after last week’s terror campaign that Israel has accused Iran of masterminding. And as time drags on and the sanctions regime enters its sixth year, calls for patience become less and less credible.
Finally, Ynet has reported that the IDF is planning to deploy an Iron Dome battery in the Tel Aviv area. This would mark the first time the Iron Dome is deployed in Central Israel, and is intended for a drill simulating a missile attack.
Tel Aviv is under greater scrutiny, as Hizbollah and Iran continually taunt the Jewish state with threats that they will rain missiles on Tel Aviv.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said: “The Iron Dome is in the process of being made operational as part of which the battery is being placed in various locations from time to time.”
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