Archive for oil trading


Posted in Covert Ops, Middle East Watch, Oil Watch with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2008 by willthomasonline

U.S. allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are helping to shield Iran’s banking system from Washington’s “financial terrorism,” the governor of Iran’s central bank, Tahmasb Mazaheri has declared.

Despite the Bush administration’s attempts to isolate Iran and cut that country’s access to the global financial system, “The pressure is not working because cultural, political and economic ties between Gulf oil producers are too strong,” MiddleEastOnline points out.

Speaking at the recent Islamic Finance Summit, Mazaheri pledged, “Neither us nor our neighbors will sacrifice our long-term interests because of the unilateral pressures.”

Teheran’s denials of having a nuclear weapons program were dramatically and independently confirmed by a U.S. Government National Intelligence Estimate leaked last December in which all U.S. intelligence agencies concurred that Iran had dropped all nuclear weapons development in 2003, and has not since resumed it.

MiddleEastOnline further points out, “Iran has long had close economic ties with Gulf states, especially in the UAE and Bahrain, Arab allies of Washington and home to the Middle East’s biggest financial centers. Even so, banks in the world’s top oil-exporting region have bowed to pressure from the United States to make doing business with the Islamic Republic more difficult.”

Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank is that country’s biggest lender. Under strong White House pressure, AUBB.BH, has “frozen” banking activity with its affiliate Future Bank inside Iran. Other UAE lenders have refrained from issuing new letters of credit to Iranian companies.

Foreign banks are also buckling, MiddleEastOnline reports: “France’s BNP Paribas and Calyon, the investment banking arm of Credit Agricole, stopped offering Letters of Credit on Iranian fuel imports because of pressure from Washington.”

“I call it kind of financial terrorism in the financial industry,” Mazaheri told reporters. “And it cannot be tolerated by the global financial system,”

Mazaheri insisted that Iran’s central bank is continuing to assist private and state-owned Iranian banks “regardless of the pressure on them.”

Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. A recent major natural gas find has also secured its place as holder of the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas.

Iran officially says it is now retaliating against U.S. economic sanctions by diversifying its more than $72 billion of cash reserves from its natural gas and oil sales away from the rapidly weakening U.S. currency.

“We have tried to avoid keeping dollars,” Mazaheri explained, adding that the motivations for Iran’s central bank to diversify its cash-for-oil reserves away from the dollar were both “political and also because of the trend of the weakening dollar.” [Middle East Online Feb 7/08]

The debt-ridden dollar remains at record lows against the euro and a basket of major currencies.

It is the contention of this veteran investigative reporter, with personal experience in the U.S. Navy and the Middle East, that the recent furor over five cuts to four vital undersea fiber-optics cables in recent days could have been carried out by USS Jimmy Carter. A five-year, $1 billion refit at the Groton, Connecticut shipyard saw this purpose-built, fiber-optic cable spy sub outfitted with high-tech upgrades, including remotely operated robot submersibles, and a special detachable chamber for splicing into the deeply submerged fiber-optic cables that carry 95% of the world’s telephone and Internet traffic – including the Persian Gulf.

Instead of attempting to intercept that data stream, the sub, working alone or in concert with divers from other submarines, could be sending a clear signal to Teheran and other Gulf countries to “think twice” before opening a long-awaited Oil Bourse on the luxury island of Kish.

Set to open for trading by February 10, 2008 after repeated postponements in the face of U.S. threats, the innovative Iran Oil Bourse – or IOB – will allow oil buyers and sellers acting for their respective governments to bypass speculators and banks acting as costly “middlemen” to trade directly in oil – online. The Internet-dependent bourse is highly vulnerable to digital disruption. And Kish lies close to Dubai, where the most serious and unprecedented breaks occurred in two new cables. [Energy Bulletin Feb 3/08]

While the possibility of U.S. interference with this vital communications network remains speculative, the non-coincidental nature of five fiber-optic cable breaks in close succession, as well as the timing of the breaks, suggests a possible link with an impending euro-based bourse that threatens to push aside a U.S. dollar totally dependent on oil being traded in that currency.

Although the sailing times and tracks of U.S. nuclear submarines are classified, it would be interesting to know whether USS Jimmy Carter is currently in port or at sea.