Oil holds near multi-year highs on Iran supply concerns

Iran said it may resume uranium enrichment in a higher rate in weeks if it finds nuclear deal will not work anymore after the USA pullout from the deal. The reaction from some in Europe was bitter.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia may fast-track development of their own nuclear weapons if the Iran deal collapses as a result of the US withdrawal, former European Union and US Agency for International Development (USAID) consultant Paolo von Schirach told Sputnik.

The Iranian revolution regarded the U.S. as its primary enemy resulting in, among other things, the extended hostage crisis that led to the breaking of relationship between the two.

In his speech announcing the USA withdrawal from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Trump called Iran the "world's leading state sponsor of terror", citing its support for "terrorist" proxies and militias such as Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as its activities in Yemen.

"It's the same witches brew of bullish stuff: Iran, Venezuela, the lack of alacrity by Saudi Arabia to bring more oil onto the market", said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in NY. Iran's regional ambitions and its missile program were two of the other major sticking points in dealing with Iran.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Trump agreed in a phone call that talks were needed to discuss how United States sanctions on Iran would affect foreign companies operating in the country.

Washington has given European firms doing business in Iran up to six months to wind up investments or risk U.S. sanctions and they are also forbidden from signing any new contracts with Iran.

Energy industry insiders say Trump's tough stance on Iran will probably keep oil and gasoline prices higher than they would otherwise be.

Only hours before large explosions were being reported in Syria on Tuesday night, as Israel braced for retaliatory action, Arens said: "Action we take against Iranian targets in Syria could trigger war". Another could be an independent financing mechanism allowing European companies to avoid US banks. Anticipation of Trump's announcement was one reason, but traders also were watching for potential supply disruptions, such as reports that ConocoPhillips is trying to seize assets owned by Venezuela's state-owned oil company to satisfy an earlier arbitration award.

Persia was on the old Silk Road, and Iran is at the heart of President Xi Jinping's plans for a new one.

Brent, the worldwide benchmark crude, was up 3 percent Wednesday, on Trump's sanctions announcement and as new weekly government data showed US oil inventories dropping amid extremely strong demand for gasoline from American drivers. That might seem insignificant in a global supply of about 98 million barrels a day.

He said he anxious about Benjamin Netanyahu's "bellicosity, acting contrary to so much professional opinion and advice", in reference to senior Israeli military figures who have argued for keeping the deal on the basis that it is working.

However, Le Maire acknowledged he has "no illusions" that he'll get what he asked for.

Israel has said it will do what it takes to fend off Iran's military entrenchment.

Washington has given companies between 90 and 180 days to phase out existing contracts with Iran and banned them from signing any new ones, under threat of sanctions. Firms would not be allowed to strike new deals with Iran.

The previous USA administration under Barack Obama tried to change the script by attempting to soften the hostility with Iran.

"Israel for many years now has been preparing for many scenarios vis-a-vis Iran".

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries remains committed to a two-year pledge to cut output by 1.8 million bpd jointly with key rivals including Russian Federation.

Exports of German goods to Iran rose by around 400 million euros to 3 billion euros.

Vanessa Coleman

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