Is Iran's nuclear program aimed at making weapons?

A picture shows phase 15 and 16 of South Pars gas field development in the southern Iranian port town of Asaluyeh.

Adriene Hill: The price of oil has stabalized some. That's after a recent run-up. Trying to figure out why exaclty prices jump around is always a little tricky, but one obvious factor councerns about Iran and its nuclear plans.

From Washington, Scott Tong reports.


Scott Tong: Iran yesterday showed off a new reactor, and what it described as homemade uranium that's 20 percent pure. That's more than needed for electricity. It approaches weapons-grade.

And an unstable Persian Gulf spooks the price of oil up, says Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Anthony Cordesman: If anyone raises world oil prices, everyone in the United States pays that price. And we're doing it today, simply because of an announcement of a nuclear reactor.

Iran's been a top-shelf worry for policymakers ever since a November report from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Cordesman: This basically laid out the fact that Iran now has every element of technology needed to make a fission weapon. It doesn't mean it has a weapon.

Or even actively building one.

Still, the U.S. and EU have fast-tracked sanctions, and Europeans are phasing in an Iran oil boycott, which Iran countered yesterday, suggesting it would stop selling right now. It backtracked, but oil still went up.

In Washington, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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