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Two Pre-Season Storms Eyed in Atlantic, Pacific oceans, Could Cause Damages to Gas, Oil Projects in Gulf of Mexico

(Photo: NOAA/NHC)
The new NASA satellite is meant to assist weather analysts to predict typhoons and provide experts with an enhanced outlook of climate change

By Esther Tanquintic-Misa:
May 15, 2012 5:39 AM GMT

Natural gas and oil development projects near the Atlantic Ocean, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, could be facing potential damages in the coming months with the onset of the rainy season.

This early, two pre-season storms have been spotted in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by the National Hurricane Center, Bloomberg News reported.

Storms that enter the Gulf of Mexico could damage and halt both operations and production of natural gas and oil development projects in the area. Just this March, according to a one-year progress report on the Obama administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Policy, it said that the Gulf of Mexico is safely back to strong production after the much celebrated 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, otherwise known as the BP oil disaster or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Of the two pre-season storms spotted by the National Hurricane Center, the stronger one was found in the Pacific about 550 miles or 885 kilometers south-southwest of Acapulco, Mexico. In a weather bulletin, the center said it has a 50 per cent chance of becoming a tropical depression in the next day or two.

The one in the Atlantic, meanwhile, was 460 miles west-southwest of the Azores, with a 20 per cent probability of becoming a sub-tropical storm in the next two days.

The eastern Pacific and Atlantic hurricane seasons officially start on May 15 and June 1, respectively.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico flowed for three months in 2010. It is recorded as the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The spill, which stemmed from a sea-floor oil that resulted from the explosion of Deepwater Horizon, killed 11 men and injured 17 others, including massive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.

Two Pre-Season Storms Eyed in Atlantic, Pacific oceans, Could Cause Damages to Gas, Oil Projects in Gulf of Mexico – International Business Times.

WASACE Seeks Cable System Supplier for Atlantic Basin Project

 

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WASACE Cable Company announced that it has begun the procurement process to select a cable system supplier for the construction of its undersea fiber optic cable system, which will create new and unique communication routes to support the communities around the Atlantic Basin.

WASACE will develop, operate and build a new network connecting Africa to the U.S., and connecting the 2 BRICS economies in the Southern Hemisphere, Brazil and South Africa, for the first time. WASACE’s new- submarine cable network will also connect the two largest economies in America, USA and Brazil, and will provide a full diverse route to the aging transatlantic cable systems between USA and Europe.

WASACE will deploy the latest “100G” technology to connect four continents comprising “WASACE Americas” – connecting Brazil (Santos, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza) to the U.S. (Florida). WASACE Americas will also provide optional and on demand connectivity to Colombia, Panama and South Carolina; “WASACE Africa” – connecting Nigeria and South Africa to the USA. WASACE Africa also provides optional and on demand connectivity to Niger-Delta Oil and Gas region at Bonny Island and to Angola; “WASACE Europe” – connecting Florida to Virginia Beach and across the North Atlantic to San Sebastian in Spain.

WASACE has engaged the services of premier international telecommunications consultants, David Ross Group to administer the procurement process and lead the development of the project. The comprehensive Invitation to Tender has been released to four of the major undersea telecommunications cable system suppliers and WASACE expects to select the cable system suppliers for its network in July 2012. In addition, WASACE has retained two financial services companies including Aterios Capital as financial advisors to source funding for the project.

The Company’s plan is to develop the network in phases, beginning with the WASACE Americas and WASACE Africa cable systems, which are scheduled to be in service by the first quarter of 2014.

“The commencement of the selection process for the cable system supplier(s) for our network is a critical milestone in our plan to enable new, critical routes focused on enhancing connectivity for the populations in the Atlantic Basin,” Ramón Gil-Roldán y Sansón, Chairman and CEO of WASACE Cable Company stated.

“The David Ross Group is pleased to take part in the development of this unique undersea cable system which will add critical new routes to the global telecommunications network,” David Ross, President of the David Ross Group said.

“We believe this project is timely and provides a unique opportunity for freeflow of information and data between the two largest economies in the Americas (USA & Brazil), Africa’s largest economy (South Africa) and Africa’s fastest growing economy (Nigeria) as well as with the rest of the world. It ties in with our focus on infrastructure development in sub-Saharan Africa and we are proud to be associated with it,” Olabode Abikoye, CEO of Aterios Capital added.

WASACE Cable Company was formed to meet the rapidly-evolving needs of developing markets in the Southern Hemisphere.

The David Ross Group Inc. has supported undersea telecommunications projects resulting in 80,000 Km of deployed fiber optic cable and over $2 billion in investments in more than 40 different countries. Most recent projects include undersea networks in the Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Caribbean Sea, China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean.

Aterios Capital is strategically focused on infrastructure development in sub-Saharan Africa and provides advisory services to prominent organizations and financial sponsors in various infrastructure sectors such as power, telecommunication, public transportation, financial institutions, agriculture, health, education, municipal waste management and real estate.

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French Guiana: Shell to Begin Guyane Drilling in Mid 2012

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Northern Petroleum announces plans to commence drilling in mid 2012 on the Guyane permit offshore French Guiana, to follow up on the Zaedyus oil discovery in late 2011 that demonstrated the prospectivity of this licence area off South America. This is a relatively low cost investment for Northern with high upside potential.

In the Zaedyus exploration well, 72 metres of net oil pay was discovered in two turbidite sand systems in the first phase of drilling – successfully proving that the Jubilee play is mirrored across the Atlantic from West Africa.

The second phase of drilling is planned to involve the spudding of a de-lineation well on the discovery, likely to be followed by an exploration well on one of the neighbouring prospects within the area captured by 3D seismic survey. Additional 3D seismic is also planned to be acquired from midyear to further delineate leads on trend and similar to the Zaedyus discovery mapped on 2D seismic along the length of the deepwater margin.

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To undertake these operations Shell, who took over as Operator from Tullow Oil on 1 February 2012, has contracted the Stena DrillMax ICE drillship, which is expected to commence operations midyear subject to government consents.

The partner interests in offshore Guyane are: Shell 45%, Tullow 27.5%,  Total 25%,  Northpet Investments 2.5% (Northern owns a 50% equity interest in Northpet)

Derek Musgrove, Managing Director of Northern stated:

”Northern is pleased that the successful Zaedyus oil discovery is to be quickly followed by a new drilling campaign. This will not only further delineate the discovery structure, but will also move forward to drill some of the similar prospects defined by 3D seismic in order to confirm the wider significant potential of this permit area covering the entire length of the prospective continental shelf edge of Guyane, a distance of about 200 kilometres.”

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Oil leaders, GOP allies, downplay administration’s seismic plans

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House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash, leads a committee hearing. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Posted on March 28, 2012 at 11:37 am
by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The Obama administration’s announcement that it may allow seismic studies potentially paving the way for offshore drilling along the East Coast is political posturing designed to distract voters concerned about high gasoline prices, oil industry leaders and Republican lawmakers said today.

The administration’s move “continues the president’s election-year political ploy of giving speeches and talking about drilling after having spent the first three years in office blocking, delaying and driving up the cost of producing energy in America,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. “The president is focused on trying to talk his way out of what he’s done, rather than taking real steps to boost American energy production.”

At issue is Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement in Norfolk, Va., this morning that the government is assessing the environmental effects of allowing seismic surveys along the mid- and south-Atlantic that could help locate hidden pockets of oil and gas. If ultimately approved, the studies by private geological research companies also could help guide decisions about where to place renewable energy projects off the coast.

The Interior Department is issuing a draft environmental impact statement that assesses the consequences of seismic research on marine life in the area. The Obama administration had planned to release a similar document in 2010, before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

If the draft environmental assessment is finalized after public comments and hearings, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management could give companies permits to conduct the studies off the coasts of eight East Coast states.

Salazar said that if the geological research turned up promising results, that could open the door to offshore drilling in the area within five years, even though the administration currently has ruled out that kind of exploration before 2017. A government plan for selling offshore drilling leases from 2012 to 2017 does not include any auctions of Atlantic territory.

“If the information that is developed allows us to move forward in a quicker time frame, we can always come in with an amendment,” Salazar said. “We’re not prejudging that at this point in time. My view is … we need to develop information so we can make those wise decisions.”

Industry officials noted that under federal laws, it could take years for the government to revise the 2012-2017 leasing plan, even if federal officials decided to pursue Atlantic drilling.

Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute, said the administration is repackaging old news and old plans to make it appear it is making real progress to encourage more domestic energy development.

“This is political rhetoric to make it appear the administration is doing something on gas prices, but in reality it is little more than an empty gesture,” Milito said.

Randall Luthi, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, likened the administration’s announcement to giving the industry “a canoe with no oars, since there are no lease sales planned anywhere off the East Coast.”

If allowed to conduct seismic surveys, geological research firms would ultimately give the resulting information to the government and sell it to companies eager to analyze the data.

But Milito questioned whether seismic companies would pursue the work, given that some of their best customers — oil companies — wouldn’t be able to use it to plan offshore drilling for years, if at all.

“Without an Atlantic coast lease sale in their five-year plan, the administration’s wishful thinking on seismic research has no ultimate purpose,” Milito said. “The White House has banned lease sales in the Atlantic for at least the next five years, discouraging the investment and job creation, and ultimately production, which would make seismic exploration valuable.”

Still, at least six companies already have told the government they want to conduct seismic research along the East Coast.

“We have gotten significant expressions of interest from companies in contracting for these seismic surveys,” said Tommy Beaudreau, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “I am confident that, assuming the process continues on the track we anticipate, that there will be significant interest next year in conducting these surveys.”

Geological research uses seismic waves to map what lies underground or beneath the ocean floor. The shock waves — which some environmental advocates say may harm marine life — map the density of subterranean material and can gives clues about possible oil and gas.

Seismic studies also help identify geologic hazards and archaeological resources in the seabed — information useful in determining the placement of renewable energy infrastructure as well as oil and gas equipment.

The existing seismic surveys of the Atlantic coast are decades old, and in the years since, “there have been enormous technological advances,” Salazar noted.

“We do need to have seismic moving forward so we can really understand what the resource potential is,” Salazar added.

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Obama administration advances plan for seismic research along Atlantic coast

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Posted on March 28, 2012 at 12:01 am by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The Obama administration will announce Wednesday that it is advancing a plan to allow new seismic research designed to help identify hidden pockets of oil and gas in Atlantic waters along the East Coast.

The move by the Interior Department is the beginning of a long path that eventually could lead to new offshore drilling off the coast from Delaware to Florida.

Senior administration officials who spoke exclusively to the Houston Chronicle confirmed the plan on condition they not be identified ahead of the official announcement.

The plan could mean new work for Houston-based seismic firms, which likely would conduct some of the first such surveys of the region in decades.

The announcement comes as President Barack Obama tries to assuage concerns about rising oil and gasoline prices ahead of the November election, amid Republican criticism that his energy policies have sent costs higher.

The administration had signaled plans to allow Atlantic seismic research before the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill stalled approval of offshore activities.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce the plan in Norfolk, Va. at Fugro Atlantic, a company that conducts geotechnical and marine research.

Future seismic research in the Atlantic waters could help guide decisions about where to allow drilling leases and equipment that generates renewable energy, such as wind turbines.

But it would be at least five years before the government sold any leases in Atlantic waters. Interior Department plans governing those decisions through 2017 do not include lease sales  in the region.

Geological research uses seismic waves to map what lies underground or beneath the ocean floor. The shock waves — which some environmental advocates say may harm marine life — map the density of subterranean material and can gives clues about possible oil and gas.

Seismic studies also help identify geologic hazards and archaeological resources in the seabed —  information useful in determining the placement of renewable energy infrastructure as well as oil and gas equipment.

Energy companies use the data to plan where to buy leases and how to prioritize projects. But they know little about what lies below federal waters along the East Coast. Existing seismic surveys of the area are more than 25 years old and were conducted with now-outdated technology.

Oil industry officials have downplayed the significance of allowing seismic surveys along the Atlantic Coast, noting the government makes no guarantee that it will let them drill. That skepticism also could limit the market for seismic research firms.

But the administration has said that collecting the data for different regions — even if they aren’t targeted immediately for development — is key to understanding their potential. Obama asked the Interior Department to speed up its search for Atlantic resources in May 2011.

Wednesday’s action takes the form of a federally required draft statement on the environmental effects of seismic surveys in the outer continental shelf along the East Coast.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on that draft environmental impact statement during hearings along the East Coast.

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Scientists Conduct Expedition of Atlantis Massif in North Atlantic Ocean

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Scientists recently concluded an expedition aboard the research vessel JOIDES Resolution to learn more about Atlantis Massif, an undersea mountain, or seamount, that formed in a very different way than the majority of the seafloor in the oceans.

Unlike volcanic seamounts, which are made of the basalt that’s typical of most of the seafloor, Atlantis Massif includes rock types that are usually only found much deeper in the ocean crust, such as gabbro and peridotite.

The expedition, known as Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 340T, marks the first time the geophysical properties of gabbroic rocks have successfully been measured directly in place, rather than via remote techniques such as seismic surveying.

With these measurements in hand, scientists can now infer how these hard-to-reach rocks will “look” on future seismic surveys, making it easier to map out geophysical structures beneath the seafloor.

“This is exciting because it means that we may be able to use seismic survey data to infer the pattern of seawater circulation within the deeper crust,” says Donna Blackman of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., co-chief scientist for Expedition 340T.

“This would be a key step for quantifying rates and volumes of chemical, possibly biological, exchange between the oceans and the crust.”

Atlantis Massif sits on the flank of an oceanic spreading center that runs down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

As the tectonic plates separate, new crust is formed at the spreading center and a combination of stretching, faulting and the intrusion of magma from below shape the new seafloor.

Periods of reduced magma supplied from the underlying mantle result in the development of long-lived, large faults. Deep portions of the crust shift upward along these faults and may be exposed at the seafloor.

This process results in the formation of an oceanic core complex, or OCC, and is similar to the processes that formed the Basin and Range province of the Southwest United States.

“Recent discoveries from scientific ocean drilling have underlined that the process of creating new oceanic crust at seafloor spreading centers is complex,” says Jamie Allan, IODP program director at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which co-funds the program.

“This work significantly adds to our ability to infer ocean crust structure and composition, including predicting how ocean crust has ‘aged’ in an area,” says Allan, “thereby giving us new tools for understanding ocean crust creation from Earth’s mantle.”

Atlantis Massif is a classic example of an oceanic core complex.

Because it’s relatively young–formed within the last million years–it’s an ideal place, scientists say, to study how the interplay between faulting, magmatism and seawater circulation influences the evolution of an OCC within the crust.

“Vast ocean basins cover most of the Earth, yet their crust is formed in a narrow zone,” says Blackman. “We’re studying that source zone to understand how rifting and magmatism work together to form a new plate.”

The JOIDES Resolution first visited Atlantis Massif about seven years ago; the science team on that expedition measured properties in gabbro.

But they focused on a shallower section, where pervasive seawater circulation had weathered the rock and changed its physical properties.

For the current expedition, the team did not drill new holes.

Rather, they lowered instruments into a deep existing hole drilled on a previous expedition, and made measurements from inside the hole.

The new measurements, at depths between 800 and 1,400 meters (about 2,600-4,600 feet) below the seafloor, include only a few narrow zones that had been altered by seawater circulation and/or by fault slip deformation.

The rest of the measurements focused on gabbroic rocks that have remained unaltered thus far.

The properties measured in the narrow zones of altered rock differ from the background properties measured in the unaltered gabbroic rocks.

The team found small differences in temperature next to two sub-seafloor faults, which suggests a slow percolation of seawater within those zones.

There were also significant differences in the speed at which seismic waves travel through the altered vs. unaltered zones.

“The expedition was a great opportunity to ground-truth our recent seismic analysis,” says Alistair Harding, also from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a co-chief scientist for Expedition 340T.

“It also provides vital baseline data for further seismic work aimed at understanding the formation and alteration of the massif.”

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international research program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth through drilling, coring and monitoring the subseafloor.

The JOIDES Resolution is a scientific research vessel managed by the U.S. Implementing Organization of IODP (USIO). Texas A&M University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership comprise the USIO.

Two lead agencies support the IODP: the U.S. National Science Foundation and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Additional program support comes from the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling, the Australia-New Zealand IODP Consortium, India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences, the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.

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Israel’s worst frenemy

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by Michael Goodwin

Woe is me. President Obama claims he is the best friend Israel ever had in the White House, yet doesn’t get any respect. This is no Rodney Dangerfield act. He is deadly serious.

“Every single commitment I have made to the state of Israel and its security, I have kept,” he told The Atlantic magazine. “Why is it that despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they’ve had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?”

The question deserves an honest answer, though the truth is not likely to cut through the fog of presidential self-pity. A man who compares himself to Lincoln, Gandhi, King, Mandela and FDR isn’t the sort to welcome disagreement.

And that is the heart of his problem. Obama is certain he knows what’s good for Israel. Given his record and the Iranian threat, it’s an impossible sell.

He came into office thinking Israel was the obstacle to Middle East peace; three years later, his policies are producing more signs of war than peace. The Palestinians won’t negotiate for their own state because the president foolishly urged them to make a ban on Israeli settlements a precondition.

He was wrong from the git-go, and still is. But facts don’t stand a chance. As a Democrat who speaks to Obama about the Mideast told me, he has a “stubborn worldview.”

How stubborn will be revealed today and tomorrow during crucial meetings with Israeli leaders. The Iranian march to nukes will top the agenda, but Obama’s view on Iran is typical of how he sees the region and his role in it.

Stripped of nuance, the gist is that Israel and America are oppressors and Muslims are oppressed. He remains obsessed with the idea that all will be well if only we prove to Muslims that we’re not bigots.

The latest example is his apology to Afghans after our soldiers mistakenly burned the Koran. Six soldiers have been murdered in subsequent riots, yet he insists those involved in the burning face military charges.

His approach to Iran is similarly misguided. Despite its thugocracy, he refuses to accept that his policy of engagement has failed. The White House even says it sees Iran as a “rational actor,” and Obama told The Atlantic that military action against Iran could work to its advantage.

“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally [Syria] is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?” he asked.

Huh?

This is Obama at his faculty-lounge worst. Trapped by his own prejudices and misreading of history and culture, he continues to suggest that Iran is open to persuasion if he can find the right words. It’s not. It’s an evil regime that tortures its people, kills American soldiers, sponsors terrorism and wants a nuclear bomb to use against Israel and to dominate Arab countries.

A friend who recently met with top Israeli officials says the bottom line they will explain to Obama is that there are two things no Israeli government can ever do. First, it cannot allow a mortal enemy to get a weapon of mass destruction or the ability to make one. Second, it cannot entrust its survival to a third party, including the United States.

The policy that flows from those principles is obvious. Israel will attack when it feels Iran is close to getting the bomb. And Israel is more likely to reach that conclusion sooner because it doesn’t trust Obama’s resolve or time line.

For his part, Obama will have to search someplace else for respect. Israel is too busy trying to survive.

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Obama says not bluffing on Iran military option

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By Matt Spetalnick and Jeffrey Heller
WASHINGTON/OTTAWA | Fri Mar 2, 2012 8:14pm EST

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama issued his most direct threat yet of U.S. military action against Iran if it builds a nuclear weapon, but in a message to Israel’s leader ahead of White House talks he also cautioned against a pre-emptive Israeli strike.

“As president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” Obama warned Iran in a magazine interview published on Friday, three days before he will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

With the meeting expected to be dominated by stark differences over what Washington fears could be an Israeli attack on Tehran‘s nuclear sites, Netanyahu said he wanted to preserve the “freedom of action of the State of Israel in the face of threats to wipe us off the map.”

Monday’s talks are shaping up as the most consequential encounter of U.S. and Israeli leaders in years, with tensions further magnified by Republican presidential candidates slamming Obama over his Middle East policy.

Further complicating the talks is a trust deficit between the two men, who have had a rocky relationship.

There is mounting speculation that Israel, which fears that time is running out to stop Iran’s nuclear advance, could act militarily on its own in coming months unless it receives stronger reassurances from Washington.

Netanyahu is trying to convince Obama to more forcefully define the nuclear threshold that Iran must not cross, while the U.S. president wants to convince Israel to hold off on any unilateral strike and give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work.

Both leaders talked tough ahead of their meeting.

“I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic magazine.

Obama repeated the U.S. refrain that “all options are on the table” but spoke in his most direct terms yet of a possible U.S. military response if sanctions and diplomacy fail to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

“It includes a military component. And I think people understand that,” Obama said when asked about U.S. intentions on Iran, which insists it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

While acknowledging Netanyahu’s “profound responsibility” to protect the Israeli people, Obama cited “potential unintended consequences” as he made clear that it would be unwise for Israel to go ahead with any attack on Iran.

“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally, (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?”

Obama cannot afford to be too tough on Netanyahu, with Republican presidential candidates ready to pounce on any sign of a rift with close U.S. ally Israel. But Obama’s aides are also worried that a new war in the Middle East could sow chaos and bring further spikes in global oil prices.

It was unclear, however, whether Obama’s sharpened rhetoric on Iran would be enough to placate Netanyahu, who was visiting Canada on Friday before flying to Washington on Sunday.

Netanyahu on Friday ruled out the idea of international talks to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, a possibility has raised in recent weeks as sanctions have started to take a heavier toll.

“I think the international community should not fall into this trap,” he told reporters in Ottawa after talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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