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Wednesday 7 March 2012

Deja friggin' vu.

YESTERDAY the Prime Minister warned that a Middle East madman was developing weapons capable of destroying London.

Intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads, pointed at the Queen? Britain is honour-bound to bristle.

He said that war remained an option, but economic sanctions have "further to run". The head of MI6 is walking around looking more serious than usual and Israel's getting antsy.

Do you know, I could swear we've been here before? It rings a bit of a bell.

Not least because the main underlying factor in the current ruckus between Iran and the rest of the world is the same sticky black stuff the want of which saw off Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi.

Oil is the basis of 90 per cent of Iran's economy, not least because its crude is of a particularly high quality. Britain doesn't buy a lot of it but about 20 per cent of the total comes to the European Union, mainly to Turkey, Spain and Greece. And they don't have much money to spend.

Another 20 per cent goes to China which although it is on friendly terms with Iran, what with being well out of missile range, has been quibbling over the price of late.

To make matters worse various bods - Obama, Netanyahu and the statesmanlike figure of PM Dishface, running to catch up - have started muttering about nuclear ambitions and announced an oil embargo.

In response Mr Dinnerjacket has said he won't let anyone who's not his friend have any of his oil anyway, an empty bit of playground posturing when you realise that without the West's cash his country's economy would split down the middle and the opposition movement he's been cracking down on would be back on the streets with even more public support.

So Iran is painting itself into an angry corner while Saudi Arabia public-spiritedly offers to sell us more oil to make up for it, very reasonable price of course, slight inflation but there's a lot of demand you know, and everyone except China is arranging themselves in a stern line.

And for all the EU's talk of sanctions and up-with-this-we-shall-not-put, the embargo means merely that from July we will stop buying 430,800 barrels of Iranian oil a day. By the time July rolls around, however, we'll have coughed up for 68.5million barrels of that same Persian crude in order 'to reduce the impact on weaker European economies'.

So we've got the threats of WMDs. We've got the Middle East being jumpier than normal, and an undemocratic leader with dodgy facial hair. We've got political double-speak and a thirst for oil provided by people we'd like to be friendlier to us. And we've got sanctions that won't bite until July.

Call me pessimistic, but after six months of having its main financial artery stamped on I reckon Iran will be sending Scuds at everything that moves, and a few Western leaders unpopular because of their austerity measures are going to decide they need a war.

I've pencilled it in my diary for January.

Who needs change?