Update: as we hit print, we see headlines that the UK will cooperate with the US on bilateral agreement to release oil stocks. Crude down big on the news, which is merely an advance move ahead of almost inevitable war with Iran, simply to make the spike more palatable.
The push to get Iran to do something terminally irrational (now that USS Enterprise in its final tour of duty is almost on location just off the side of CVN-70 Lincoln and CVN-72 Vinson in the Arabian Sea, where the US will shortly have not one, not two, but three aircraft carriers) is now in its final stretch. As AP reported earlier, Iran has been now entirely cut off from the global financial system, as that anchor of international financial transactions, SWIFT, has just taken Iran off the grid. This leaves Iran with just three options for international trade: making gold into a fully convertible currency, barter, or exchanging Rials for Renminbi and other local currencies.
From the AP:
The SWIFT global financial transaction service said Thursday that it was cutting ties with Iranian banks that are subject to European Union sanctions aimed at discouraging the country from developing nuclear weapons.
The action effectively enforces EU sanction because the world's financial transactions are impossible without using SWIFT, and it will go a long way toward isolating Iran financially.
The company's name stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It is a banking hub crucial to oil, financial transactions and other trades.
In a statement, SWIFT said the EU decision "prohibits companies such as SWIFT to continue to provide specialized financial messaging services to EU-sanctioned banks."
"Disconnecting banks is an extraordinary and unprecedented step for SWIFT," Lazaro Campos, chief executive of SWIFT, said. "It is a direct result of international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran."
In other words: Iran, please do your worst. And just to make it easier, the US has now stacked an entire armada of easy targets in close vicinity, which not even a naive fool can mistake anymore for prewar preparations.
Here is what the naval picture in the Arabian Sea looked like most recently, where courtesy of Stratfor we can see that not only is CVN-65 full steam ahead to its final date with history somewhere off the shores of Iran, but that LHD8 Makin Island crossed the Straits of Hormuz recently. Just because.
Virtually the entire non-parked naval fleet will be in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf in the next 4-6 days, where 3 aircraft carriers and one big-deck amphibious warfare ship are just waiting for the order.