Britain’s energy regulator said that fuel bills for 24 million households would rise by 80 percent beginning in October, putting pressure on the next prime minister, expected to be Liz Truss, to turn immediate attention to coming up with a massive aid package to head off a catastrophic winter.

Britain’s government is not the only one working to mitigate the energy crisis in Europe. Facing dire circumstances, lawmakers and regulators across the continent are increasingly intervening in the energy markets to protect consumers.

At the same time, the European natural gas market has changed substantially over the last year as Russia crimped supplies and Europe turned to other sources. Flows from Russia to Europe have declined sharply.

imports of liquefied natural gas shipped by sea from the United States and elsewhere, and increased pipeline flows from producers including Norway and Azerbaijan. The problem is that the shifts have forced gas prices higher, as Europe vies with Asia for limited supplies of liquefied gas.

Until Friday’s announcement there was increasing optimism about the prospect for navigating the winter with less Russian gas, leading to the fall in natural gas prices in recent days. Wood Mackenzie, an energy research firm, has projected that Russian pipeline gas imports will steadily decline from supplying more than a third of European demand in recent years to around 9 percent in 2023.

Even the importance of Nord Stream has diminished. Analysts say that Gazprom has so constrained Nord Stream volumes this summer that the pipeline’s performance is no longer crucial to the overall fundamentals of the market. But news about the conduit still has a psychological impact, and some analysts expect gas prices to jump when markets open on Monday.

“A complete shutdown will obviously have implications on market sentiment given how tight the market is,” said Massimo Di Odoardo, vice president for global gas at Wood Mackenzie. Such an event, he added, would “increase the risk of further cuts via other pipelines bringing Russian gas to the E.U. via Ukraine and Turkey.”

Andrew E. Kramer contributed.

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Ukraine Steps Up Strikes in the South

Credit…Iranian Army, via Associated Press

Iran delivered to Russia the first batch of two types of military drones this month as part of a larger order totaling hundreds of the aerial war machines, according to an Iranian adviser to the government and two U.S. administration officials who were not authorized to speak on the record.

American officials said Russia could deploy the Iranian-made drones in its war against Ukraine to conduct air-to-surface attacks, carry out electronic warfare and identify targets.

Iran has officially said that it would not provide either side of the conflict with military equipment but has confirmed that a drone deal with Russia was part of a military agreement that predated the invasion of Ukraine.

Over several days in August, Russian transport aircraft loaded the drone equipment at an airfield in Iran and subsequently flew to Russia, according to the two U.S. officials.But the first shipments of Iranian-supplied drones, the American officials said, have had mechanical and technical problems.

The drone shipment, and the mechanical problems, was earlier reported by The Washington Post.

Iran’s military deal with Russia is part of a larger strategy by the Islamic Republic to pivot toward forming strategic economic partnerships with China and security partnerships with Russia.

This shift, analysts say, accelerated after President Donald J. Trump exited the nuclear deal and imposed tough sanctions on Iran. European companies, fearing secondary sanctions by the United States, then ended nearly all business transactions and investments with Iran, prompting the country to look east and north.

“From Iran’s perspective, relations with the U.S. cannot be improved, and the Europeans are not powerful enough to protect Iranian interests,” said Sina Azodi, a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council, an international affairs research institute. “But Russia and China can help Iran counter the West.”

Russia, for its part, has found a welcome new ally in Iran to help it evade the sanctions imposed by much of the world after its invasion of Ukraine. President Vladimir V. Putin traveled to Iran in July to meet with the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other senior officials.

The two types of drones being provided to Russia are the Iranian-manufactured Mohajer-6 and Shahed series. Russian operators are receiving training on the drones in Iran, according to the Iranian adviser and American officials familiar with the transfer.

The Mohajer-6 has the capability to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and the Shahed series is considered among the most capable of Iran’s military drones, according to comments made by the Iranian military to local news media.

Iran is a pioneer in drone technology, with at least four decades of design and manufacturing experience, and it has been providing combat drones to military groups and proxy militia in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.

Officials in Israel, the United States and some Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia have said they are increasingly concerned that Iran’s advancing drone technology could destabilize the region and empower militias backed by Iran.

In the shadow war between Iran and Israel, Iranian drones have been involved in attacks on ships and have targeted U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria. Israel has also attacked a secret facility in western Iran where hundreds of drones were believed to have been stored.

Iran has quietly ramped up its drone sales far beyond the region as it seeks to be a global player in the drone market. Iran has sold drones to Ethiopia, Sudan and Venezuela; in May, it inaugurated a joint drone-manufacturing factory in Tajikistan.

The United States has been warning since last month that Russia intended to receive drones from Iran. The Russian military is experiencing major supply shortages in Ukraine, in part because of sanctions and export controls, forcing Russia to rely on countries like Iran for supplies and equipment.

The terms of the Iran-Russia drone deal were not immediately clear. The adviser to the government said no money had yet been exchanged.

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, will travel to Moscow on Wednesday to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, to discuss the latest negotiations for a nuclear deal, Iran’s foreign ministry announced on Monday.

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Cloud Wars: Mideast Rivalries Rise Along a New Front

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian officials have worried for years that other nations have been depriving them of one of their vital water sources. But it was not an upstream dam that they were worrying about, or an aquifer being bled dry.

In 2018, amid a searing drought and rising temperatures, some senior officials concluded that someone was stealing their water from the clouds.

“Both Israel and another country are working to make Iranian clouds not rain,” said Brig. Gen. Gholan Reza Jalali, a senior official in the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps in a 2018 speech.

are turning up at the water’s surface.

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  • While there had been enough water to sustain the tiny country’s population in 1960, when there were fewer than 100,000 people, by 2020 the population had ballooned to nearly 10 million. And the demand for water soared, as well. United Arab Emirates residents now use roughly 147 gallons per person a day, compared with the world average of 47 gallons, according to a 2021 research paper funded by the emirates.

    Currently, that demand is being met by desalination plants. Each facility, however, costs $1 billion or more to build and requires prodigious amounts of energy to run, especially when compared with cloud seeding, said Abdulla Al Mandous, the director of the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology in the emirates and the leader of its cloud-seeding program.

    After 20 years of research and experimentation, the center runs its cloud-seeding program with near military protocols. Nine pilots rotate on standby, ready to bolt into the sky as soon as meteorologists focusing on the country’s mountainous regions spot a promising weather formation — ideally, the types of clouds that can build to heights of as much as 40,000 feet.

    They have to be ready on a moment’s notice because promising clouds are not as common in the Middle East as in many other parts of the world.

    “We are on 24-hour availability — we live within 30 to 40 minutes of the airport — and from arrival here, it takes us 25 minutes to be airborne,” said Capt. Mark Newman, a South African senior cloud-seeding pilot. In the event of multiple, potentially rain-bearing clouds, the center will send more than one aircraft.

    The United Arab Emirates uses two seeding substances: the traditional material made of silver iodide and a newly patented substance developed at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi that uses nanotechnology that researchers there say is better adapted to the hot, dry conditions in the Persian Gulf. The pilots inject the seeding materials into the base of the cloud, allowing it to be lofted tens of thousands of feet by powerful updrafts.

    And then, in theory, the seeding material, made up of hygroscopic (water attracting) molecules, bonds to the water vapor particles that make up a cloud. That combined particle is a little bigger and in turn attracts more water vapor particles until they form droplets, which eventually become heavy enough to fall as rain — with no appreciable environmental impact from the seeding materials, scientists say.

    That is in theory. But many in the scientific community doubt the efficacy of cloud seeding altogether. A major stumbling block for many atmospheric scientists is the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility, of documenting net increases in rainfall.

    “The problem is that once you seed, you can’t tell if the cloud would have rained anyway,” said Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University and an expert in evaluating climate engineering strategies.

    Another problem is that the tall cumulus clouds most common in summer in the emirates and nearby areas can be so turbulent that it is difficult to determine if the seeding has any effect, said Roy Rasmussen, a senior scientist and an expert in cloud physics at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

    Israel, a pioneer in cloud seeding, halted its program in 2021 after 50 years because it seemed to yield at best only marginal gains in precipitation. It was “not economically efficient,” said Pinhas Alpert, an emeritus professor at the University of Tel Aviv who did one of the most comprehensive studies of the program.

    Cloud seeding got its start in 1947, with General Electric scientists working under a military contract to find a way to de-ice planes in cold weather and create fog to obscure troop movements. Some of the techniques were later used in Vietnam to prolong the monsoon season, in an effort to make it harder for the North Vietnamese to supply their troops.

    While the underlying science of cloud seeding seems straightforward, in practice, there are numerous problems. Not all clouds have the potential to produce rain, and even a cloud seemingly suitable for seeding may not have enough moisture. Another challenge in hot climates is that raindrops may evaporate before they reach the ground.

    Sometimes the effect of seeding can be larger than expected, producing too much rain or snow. Or the winds can shift, carrying the clouds away from the area where the seeding was done, raising the possibility of “unintended consequences,” notes a statement from the American Meteorological Society.

    “You can modify a cloud, but you can’t tell it what to do after you modify it,” said James Fleming, an atmospheric scientist and historian of science at Colby College in Maine.

    “It might snow; it might dissipate. It might go downstream; it might cause a storm in Boston,” he said, referring to an early cloud-seeding experiment over Mount Greylock in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.

    This seems to be what happened in the emirates in the summer of 2019, when cloud seeding apparently generated such heavy rains in Dubai that water had to be pumped out of flooded residential neighborhoods and the upscale Dubai mall.

    Despite the difficulties of gathering data on the efficacy of cloud seeding, Mr. Al Mandous said the emirates’ methods were yielding at least a 5 percent increase in rain annually — and almost certainly far more. But he acknowledged the need for data covering many more years to satisfy the scientific community.

    Over last New Year’s weekend, said Mr. Al Mandous, cloud seeding coincided with a storm that produced 5.6 inches of rain in three days — more precipitation than the United Arab Emirates often gets in a year.

    In the tradition of many scientists who have tried to modify the weather, he is ever optimistic. There is the new cloud-seeding nanosubstance, and if the emirates just had more clouds to seed, he said, maybe they could make more rain for the country.

    And where would those extra clouds come from?

    “Making clouds is very difficult,” he acknowledged. “But, who knows, maybe God will send us somebody who will have the idea of how to make clouds.”

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    Saudi Arabia Construction Market Size, Trends and Forecasts Report 2022-2026: Commercial, Industrial, Infrastructure, Energy and Utilities, Institutional and Residential Market Analysis – ResearchAndMarkets.com

    DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Saudi Arabia Construction Market Size, Trends and Forecasts by Sector – Commercial, Industrial, Infrastructure, Energy and Utilities, Institutional and Residential Market Analysis, 2022-2026” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.

    The construction industry in Saudi Arabia expanded by 1.3% in real terms last year, following growth of 1.9% in 2020, a relatively positive outcome given the disruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    The industry’s output in 2021 was supported by an improvement in global economic conditions, coupled with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and recovery in oil prices. The industry is expected to register an annual average growth of 4.1% from 2023 to 2026, supported by the government’s efforts to develop transport and energy infrastructure, coupled with its focus on diversifying the economy away from oil.

    The government has set out a SAR955 billion ($254.4 billion) budget for 2022, which includes an allocation of SAR42 billion ($11.2 billion) for transport infrastructure, SAR32 billion ($8.5 billion) for the general administration sector and SAR54 billion ($4.4 billion) for the economic resources sector.

    During the Saudi budget forum that took place in mid-December 2021, the Ministry of Energy reported that it expects spending on power and renewable energy projects to reach SAR1.1 trillion ($293.3 billion) by 2030. Of the total, investment worth SAR430 billion ($114.7 billion) will be made on power transmission projects. The country also plans to spend SAR380 billion ($101.3 billion) on renewable energy and SAR142 billion ($37.9 billion) on energy distribution projects by 2030.

    Forecast-period growth in the Saudi Arabian construction industry will also be supported by the SAR200 billion ($53.3 billion) ‘National Infrastructure Fund’, which launched in late October 2021. The fund will invest in water, transport, energy, education, health, and digital infrastructure projects until 2030.

    It will contribute to the country’s plan of transforming its economy and making it less dependent on oil revenues; it will also provide innovative financing solutions, thereby enhancing the attractiveness of investment opportunities. In another recent development, in March 2022, the government announced that it will invest SAR35billion ($9.3 billion) on more than 60 water and sewerage projects, to make Saudi Arabia the largest water desalination market in the world. Upon completion of these projects, the country’s desalination capacity will nearly triple over the next six years to 7.5m2 of water per day by 2027.

    Scope

    Key Topics Covered:

    1 Executive Summary

    2 Construction Industry: At-a-Glance

    3 Context

    3.1 Economic Performance

    3.2 Political Environment and Policy

    3.3 Demographics

    3.4 COVID-19 Status

    3.5 Risk Profile

    4 Construction Outlook

    4.1 All Construction

    4.2 Commercial Construction

    4.3 Industrial Construction

    4.4 Infrastructure Construction

    4.5 Energy and Utilities Construction

    4.6 Institutional Construction

    4.7 Residential Construction

    5 Key Industry Participants

    5.1 Contractors

    5.2 Consultants

    6 Construction Market Data

    For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/708a3t

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    Biden fails to secure major security, oil commitments at Arab summit

    • Biden says U.S. will remain committed to allies
    • U.S. hoping to integrate Israel
    • Saudi crown prince pushes back on human rights issue

    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 16 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden told Arab leaders on Saturday that the United States would remain an active partner in the Middle East, but he failed to secure commitments to a regional security axis that would include Israel or an immediate oil output rise.

    “The United States is invested in building a positive future of the region, in partnership with all of you—and the United States is not going anywhere,” he said, according to a transcript of his speech.

    Biden, who began his first trip to the Middle East as president with a visit to Israel, presented his vision and strategy for America’s engagement in the Middle East at an Arab summit in Jeddah.

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    The summit communique was vague, however, and Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most important Arab ally, poured cold water on U.S. hopes the summit could help lay the groundwork for a regional security alliance – including Israel – to combat Iranian threats.

    During a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Biden raised the highly sensitive issue of human rights, drawing countercriticism from the crown prince, also known as MbS.

    “We believe there’s great value in including as many of the capabilities in this region as possible and certainly Israel has significant air and missile defence capabilities, as they need to. But we’re having these discussions bilaterally with these nations,” a senior administration official told reporters.

    A plan to connect air defence systems could be a hard sell for Arab states that have no ties with Israel and balk at being part of an alliance seen as against Iran, which has a strong regional network of proxies including Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

    Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, said he was not aware of any discussions on a Gulf-Israeli defence alliance and that the kingdom was not involved in such talks.

    He told reporters after the U.S.-Arab summit that Riyadh’s decision to open its airspace to all air carriers had nothing to do with establishing diplomatic ties with Israel and was not a precursor to further steps. read more

    Biden has focused on the summit with six Gulf states and Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, while downplaying the meeting with MbS which drew criticism in the United States over human rights concerns.

    Biden had said he would make regional power Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the global stage over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, but ultimately decided U.S. interests dictated a recalibration, not a rupture, in relations with the world’s top oil exporter.

    The crown prince told Biden that Saudi Arabia had acted to prevent a repeat of mistakes like the killing of Khashoggi and that the United States had also made mistakes, including in Iraq, a Saudi minister said.

    FIST BUMP

    Biden exchanged a fist bump with MbS on Friday but said he told him he held him responsible for Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    “The President raised the issue … And the crown prince responded that this was a painful episode for Saudi Arabia and that it was a terrible mistake,” said Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir.

    The accused were brought to trial were and being punished with prison terms, he said.

    U.S. intelligence agencies believe the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing, which he denies.

    Jubeir, talking to Reuters about Friday’s conversation, said MbS had made the case that trying to impose values on other countries by force could backfire.

    “It has not worked when the U.S. tried to impose values on Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, it backfired,” Jubeir quoted the crown prince as telling Biden. “Countries have different values and those values should be respected!”

    The exchange highlighted tensions that have weighed on relations between Washington and Riyadh, its closest Arab ally, over issues including Khashoggi, oil prices and the Yemen war.

    Biden needs the help of OPEC giant Saudi Arabia at a time of high crude prices and other problems related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Washington also wants to curb Iran’s sway in the region and China’s global influence.

    Biden came to Saudi Arabia hoping to reach a deal on oil production to help drive down gasoline prices that are driving inflation above 40-year highs and threatening his approval ratings.

    He leaves the region empty-handed but hoping the OPEC+ group, comprising Saudi Arabia, Russia and other producers, will boost production at a meeting on Aug. 3.

    “I look forward to seeing what’s coming in the coming months,” Biden said.

    FOOD SECURITY

    A second senior administration official said Biden would announce that Washington has committed $1 billion in new near- and long-term food security assistance for the Middle East and North Africa, and that Gulf states would commit $3 billion over the next two years in projects that align with U.S. partnerships in global infrastructure and investment.

    Gulf states, which have refused to side with the West against Russia over Ukraine, are seeking a concrete commitment from the United States to strategic ties that have been strained over perceived U.S. disengagement from the region.

    Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have been frustrated by U.S. conditions on arms sales and at their exclusion from indirect U.S.-Iran talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear pact they see as flawed for not tackling concerns about Iran’s missile programme and behaviour.

    Israel had encouraged Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, hoping it would lead to warmer ties between it and Riyadh as part of a wider Arab rapprochement.

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    Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan in Jeddah and John Irish in Paris Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Georgy
    Editing by Timothy Heritage and Helen Popper

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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    Biden ends trip with U.S.-Saudi relations on the mend but few other wins

    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 16 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took a step to mending their troubled relationship with a fist bump, but the U.S. leader left the kingdom on Saturday with few big successes and doubts as to whether the visit was worth it.

    Biden’s four-day trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, his first to the Middle East as president, aimed to reset ties with the Gulf Arab oil giant, demonstrate U.S. commitment to the region and counter the rising influence of Iran, Russia and China.

    But thorny optics overshadowed the Saudi leg as Biden avoided appearing to embrace a crown prince implicated by U.S. intelligence in the brutal 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a charge Saudi authorities deny.

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    Biden said he confronted Prince Mohammed, known as MbS, over the killing. MbS remained unbowed, telling Biden the United States had also made mistakes. read more

    Though Biden left the Middle East without securing an immediate pledge by Saudi Arabia to boost oil output or public support for U.S. efforts for a regional security axis that would include Israel, the trip was not a wash. read more

    Biden’s fist bump with Prince Mohammed in front of the royal palace in Jeddah will serve as the defining image of the trip, but it was months in the making. White House officials were divided over rewarding MbS with a visit and agonized over how it would look.

    In the end, they decided that keeping strategic ties with Saudi Arabia that have weathered 80 years was important for U.S. interests and would help the two sides turn the page.

    Riyadh took several important steps to pave a path for the visit, including backing a U.N.-brokered truce in the Yemen conflict, a big victory for Biden, who pulled U.S support for Saudi-led offensive operations. It also helped accelerate already approved boosts in oil production through OPEC+.

    “The summit of the nine Arab leaders is a clear accomplishment as is the backing for the truce in Yemen. But these accomplishments have come at the cost of the fist bump,” said Bruce Riedel, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution.

    Biden came to Saudi Arabia hoping to convince the OPEC heavyweight to boost oil production, but the kingdom held firm on its strategy that it must operate within the framework of the OPEC+ alliance, which includes Russia, and not act unilaterally.

    High gasoline prices have fueled a surge in inflation in the United States and globally, dragging down Biden’s poll numbers as he heads into critical congressional elections in November.

    However, White House officials are confident their diplomatic efforts will help shape the conversation when OPEC+ members hold their next meeting.

    “All eyes are on the August 3 OPEC+ meeting. If the Saudis and the UAE want to raise output, they will do it via OPEC+. But we have to keep in mind the demand picture is softening. I’m not sure these countries are convinced the market needs more crude supply,” said Ben Cahill, an energy analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    ISRAELI-SAUDI RELATIONS

    The trip saw a small warming of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel after Riyadh said it would open its airspace to all air carriers, paving the way for more overflights to and from Israel.

    There was also a U.S.-brokered deal between Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia under which a small U.S.-led international peacekeeping contingent would quit the strategic island of Tiran, control of which was ceded to Riyadh by Cairo in 2017.

    The United States and Israel hope those moves and the summit could help build momentum toward Israel’s further integration into the region, including with Saudi Arabia. read more

    But the Saudi foreign minister poured cold water over any imminent normalization with Israel, saying this was not a precursor to further steps. He said Riyadh was not part of any discussions on a Gulf-Israeli defense alliance to counter Iran.

    On Thursday, the U.S. and Israel signed a joint pledge on Thursday to deny nuclear arms to Iran, a show of unity by allies long divided over diplomacy with Tehran. The declaration was part of Biden’s efforts to rally regional allies around U.S. efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran.

    Saudi Arabia and Israel were not happy with the original nuclear deal brokered by former President Barack Obama’s administration and celebrated when Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, quit the pact.

    Now, Biden is asking for patience, assuring them that the United States is willing to use force as a last resort if talks fail and Iran continues what the West believes is a program to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies it is seeking a nuclear weapon.

    Saudi Arabia and the UAE want regional concerns over Iran’s missile program and regional proxies to be addressed.

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    Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Paul Simao

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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    Khamenei adviser says Tehran ‘capable of building nuclear bomb,’ Al Jazeera reports

    Iranian flag is pictured in front of Iran’s Foreign Ministry building in Tehran November 23, 2009. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN POLITICS)/File Photo

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    DUBAI, July 17 (Reuters) – Iran is technically capable of making a nuclear bomb but has not decided whether to build one, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Qatar’s al Jazeera TV on Sunday.

    Kamal Kharrazi spoke a day after U.S. President Joe Biden ended his four-day trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, vowing to stop Iran from “acquiring a nuclear weapon.” read more

    Kharrazi’s comments were a rare suggestion that Iran might have an interest in nuclear weapons, which it has long denied seeking.

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    “In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60% and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium … Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one,” Kharrazi said.

    Iran is already enriching to up to 60%, far above a cap of 3.67% under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Uranium enriched to 90% is suitable for a nuclear bomb.

    In 2018, former U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the nuclear pact, under which Iran curbed its uranium enrichment work, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

    In reaction to Washington’s withdrawal and its reimposition of harsh sanctions, Tehran started violating the pact’s nuclear restrictions.

    Last year, Iran’s intelligence minister said Western pressure could push Tehran to seek nuclear weapons, the development of which Khamenei banned in a fatwa, or religious decree, in the early 2000s.

    Iran says it is refining uranium only for civilian energy uses, and has said its breaches of the international deal are reversible if the United States lifts sanctions and rejoins the agreement.

    The broad outline of a revived deal was essentially agreed in March after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and Biden’s administration in Vienna.

    But talks then broke down over obstacles including Tehran’s demand that Washington should give guarantees that no U.S. president will abandon the deal, the same way Trump did.

    Biden cannot promise this because the nuclear deal is a non-binding political understanding, not a legally-binding treaty.

    “The United States has not provided guarantees on preserving the nuclear deal and this ruins the possibility of any agreement,” Kharrazi said.

    Israel, which Iran does not recognise, has threatened to attack Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to contain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

    Kharrazi said Iran would never negotiate its balistic missile programme and regional policy, as demanded by the West and its allies in the Middle East. read more

    “Any targeting of our security from neighbouring countries will be met with direct response to these countries and Israel.”

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    Writing by Parisa Hafezi
    Editing by David Goodman, Philippa Fletcher and Frank Jack Daniel

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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