Brent crude topped $70 a barrel today for the first time in months on the unending flow of updates from the Middle East that point towards further escalation between the United States and Iran.
Oil prices soared early last Friday morning after U.S. forces in Iraq assassinated Iran’s most powerful and visible military leader, Qassem Soleimani.
The United States killed the Iranian general in an air strike early on Friday morning according to Pentagon reports. Influential Iraqi militia commander and advisor to Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was also killed in the attack according to a militia spokesman.
US President Donald Trump said he was ready to strike Iran directly if it retaliated for the assassination.
As usual, he took to Twitter to announce the threat, which said Washington has already selected “52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
Then, on Sunday, Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions if the country expelled U.S. troops as Baghdad said it would, after parliament voted in favor of the expulsion.
"The mood in the country was pushing for it," CNN quoted a source as saying following the vote. "This was not something that could have been avoided."
Meanwhile, Iran has made another step towards withdrawing from the so-called nuclear deal that halted its nuclear program. In a tweet on Sunday, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said “As 5th & final REMEDIAL step under paragraph 36 of JCPOA, there will no longer be any restriction on number of centrifuges This step is within JCPOA & all 5 steps are reversible upon EFFECTIVE implementation of reciprocal obligations Iran's full cooperation w/IAEA will continue.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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