Iran reports nuclear progress as sanctions loom
By Parisa Hafezi
January 1, 2012
TEHRAN (Reuters) – – Iran announced a nuclear fuel breakthrough and test-fired a new radar-evading medium-range missile in the Gulf on Sunday, moves that could further antagonize the West at a time when Tehran is trying to avert harsh new sanctions on its oil industry.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law on Saturday imposing tougher financial sanctions to penalize Iran for a nuclear research programme that the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
The move could for the first time hurt Tehran’s oil exports, and the European Union is due to consider similar steps soon.
As tensions have risen, Iran threatened last week to close the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow Gulf shipping lane through which 40 percent of world oil flows, if sanctions hit its oil exports.
At the same time, it signaled on Saturday that it was ready to resume stalled international talks on its nuclear programme.