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Crude oil rose to a three-month high as Iran escalated its nuclear program, raising concern that shipments from OPEC’s second-biggest producer may be cut.
Bloomberg reported that Russia and China will join European Union and U.S. officials in London next week to discuss whether to ask the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said. He met his German and French colleagues in Berlin today to coordinate action. Sanctions against Iran would occur as economic growth bolsters fuel use.
Crude oil for February delivery increased 81 cents, or 1.3%, to $64.75 a barrel at 11:33 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices touched $65.05, the highest since Oct. 4, while futures are 40% higher than a year ago.
Oil is down 8.6% from a record $70.85 a barrel on Aug. 30, the day after Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast.
The average cost of oil used by U.S. refiners surged to $35.24 a barrel in 1981 after Iran cut oil exports, according to Energy Department figures, or $75.44 in 2005 dollars.
Concern about Iran developing nuclear weapons intensified following comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he called for the eradication of Israel and denied the existence of the Nazi Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews.