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Seven loopholes favoring a nuclear Iran in deal signed by the world powers
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis November 24, 2013, 4:51 PM (IDT)

The first preliminary nuclear deal the six world powers (US, Russia, China, UK, France and German) signed with Iran before dawn Sunday, Nov. 24, at the end of a four-day marathon, failed to address the most questionable aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, i.e. its clandestine military dimensions. The accord confined itself to aspects of uranium enrichment and stockpiles. UN inspections were expanded – but not applied, for instance, to Iran’s concealed nuclear sites – or even the Parchin military base where Iran is suspected of having tested nuclear-related explosions.

Israel, the Gulf States and others are therefore highly dubious of the deal’s capacity for freezing Iran’s nuclear program where it stands today, least of all roll it back, as President Barack Obama claimed.

debkafile’s intelligence and military sources list seven of the most glaring loopholes in the first-step accord:
1. Parchin: This long-suspected facility remains out of UN oversight. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry boasted after the signing that daily IAEA inspections will take place at Fordo and Natanz. However, cameras are already fixed at both those facilities without an agreement, whereas Tehran’s consistent denial of IAEA access to Parchin is not addrfessed.

2. Secret nuclear locations:  Under the heading "Possible Military Dimensions," the last IAEA report noted: "Since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related organizations, including activities related to the development of a payload for a missile.”

The watchdog has received information indicating activities "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device." This was further corroborated by new information obtained since November 2011.

Tehran’s non-cooperation for investigating these findings is not mentioned in the Geneva interim accord, nor was it addressed in the negotiations.

3. Dirty bombs: Iran doesn’t need a full-scale nuclear bomb or missile warhead for attacking Israel. For decades, Tehran has been working on perfecting hundreds of dirty bombs as part of its nuclear program, by adding plutonium or enriched uranium to conventional bombs. These weapons are easy to make and easy to use. In the hands of Hizballah or other Shiite terrorist organizations in Syria or Iraq, for instance, they could be used to strike Israel without leaving a trail to Tehran.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

This is akin to paying for your own funeral financially.

US banks warn Fed interest cut could force them to charge depositors
By Tom Braithwaite and Stephen Foley in New York and Robin Harding in Washington

Leading US banks have warned that they could start charging companies and consumers for deposits if the US Federal Reserve cuts the interest it pays on bank reserves.

Depositors already have to cope with near-zero interest rates, but paying just to leave money in the bank would be highly unusual and unwelcome for companies and households.

The warning by bank executives highlights the dangers of one strategy the Fed could use to offset an eventual “tapering” of the $85bn a month in asset purchases that have fuelled global financial markets for the last year.

Minutes of the Fed’s October meeting published last week showed it was heading towards a taper in the coming months – perhaps as soon as December – but wants to find a different way to add stimulus at the same time. “Most” officials thought a cut in the interest on bank reserves was an option worth considering.

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Iran nuclear deal sparks anger in Middle East, Israeli prime minister calls it a ‘historic mistake’
Josef Federman, Associated Press
Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister harshly condemned the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran on Sunday while Western allies in the Persian Gulf were conspicuously quiet, reflecting the jitters felt throughout the Middle East over Iran’s acceptance on the global stage.

Elsewhere, many welcomed the agreement as an important first step toward curbing Iran’s suspect nuclear program.

Israel and Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia have formed an unlikely alliance in their opposition to Sunday’s deal, joined together by shared concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran.

While most Gulf countries remained silent in the first hours after the deal was reached in Geneva, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasted little time in criticizing it, calling it a “historic mistake” and saying he was not bound by the agreement.

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FCA launches gold benchmark rigging review
Financial Conduct Authority launches preliminary review into possible rigging of gold benchmarks
By Denise Roland, and agencies
7:55PM GMT 19 Nov 2013

Britain’s financial regulator is looking into whether gold benchmarks could have been rigged.

The Financial Conduct Authority has launched a preliminary review into the issue, a person familiar with the matter has told Bloomberg.

It is not yet known which gold benchmarks are under scrutiny, but among the most important is the London gold fixing, which determines the spot price for physical gold and is set twice daily by a panel of five banks.

The review adds to the list of financial benchmarks being investigated for suspected rigging by regulators around the world in the wake of the Libor-fixing scandal, which implicated a number of banks in fixing a key interbank lending rate.

Last month the FCA confirmed it was at the "early stage" of an inquiry into potential rigging of the $5.3 trillion (£3.3 trillion) daily global trade in currencies, which is also under review the US Department of Justice and European authorities.

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Why did the gold price plunge $10 in 10 seconds?
Sudden drop in the precious metal on the day it emerges the UK regulator is investigating alleged rigging of the price raises questions about the market
By Andrew Critchlow, Business News Editor
1:35PM GMT 20 Nov 2013

Traders in London were left scratching their heads on Wednesday morning when a rapid-fire 10-second spell of selling sent gold prices quoted on a Bloomberg monitor down suddenly by about $10 (£6) to trade near $1,260 an ounce.

IG Markets commented that the fall came suddenly following a 2,000-contracts sell order hitting the market, but the incident shows how markets don’t always comply to the logic of traders reacting to big news events that are publicly disclosed and that we all know about.

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It also illustrates the challenges facing the FCA in investigating alleged rigging of heavily traded commodities or asset classes such as gold and currency, where prices can often shift on the slightest rumour or sniff of bearish sentiment.

Traders I spoke to in London this morning were themselves lost for an explanation over the gold price other than to say the drop was triggered by electronic trading, which kicks in when a price crosses a key support level as it did today.

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$1 million gold stash found in airplane toilet
The 24 gold bars were found by cleaners on an airliner in India
4:58PM GMT 20 Nov 2013

An Indian airplane cleaning crew stumbled across 24 gold bars worth over $1 million stashed in an aircraft toilet compartment.

India, which rivals China as the world’s biggest gold consumer, has witnessed a sharp rise in smuggling since import duties were hiked three times this year to dampen demand for the precious metal.

The plane, belonging to Jet Airways, was being cleaned at Kolkata airport on Tuesday after a trip from the eastern city of Patna. Indian media reported the plane had been travelling from Bangkok.

"The cleaning staff of the airport were going though their routine duties and found two bags in the toilets of the plane," director of the airport B.P. Mishra told AFP.

The 24 one-kilogram gold bars "have not been claimed by anyone. No arrest has been made," senior customs official R.S. Meena said.

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