Iran Says It Will Now Enrich Uranium

Grind for June 21st
“Remember you are just an extra in everybody else’s play.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Ante Up

The Headline

In 10 days, Iran will exceed JCPOA uranium stockpile limits

The Grind

Iranian officials on Monday said they would soon exceed the limits on uranium outlined in the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA).

Under the deal, which the US withdrew from last May, Iran was prohibited from keeping more than 661 pounds of uranium enriched no higher than 3.67% purity.

“We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will pass the 300kg limit,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The Background

Iran’s announcement comes amid rising tensions related to US sanctions on Iran and the May 12th attack on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

The US, Britain, and Saudi Arabia have blamed the attack on Iran. Iran says it was not involved.

Days before the attack, the Pentagon dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group to the region in response to threats from Iran.

The Takeaway

Iranian officials insist they need uranium enriched to 5% for the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in Halileh and uranium enriched to 20% for a research reactor in Tehran.

While 20% is far from the 90% needed to build a nuclear weapon, nonproliferation experts worry Tehran’s research will lead in that direction.

To enrich uranium, scientists must separate the U-238 isotope from the U-235 isotope. Uranium-235 is the only nuclide existing in nature that can sustain a fission chain reaction.

To enrich uranium to 3.67%, scientists must remove 114 U-238 atoms for every U-235 atom.

Increasing purity to 20% requires the removal of an additional 22 U-238 atoms, but jumping from 20% to 90% requires the removal of just four U-238 atoms.

“That means going from 20% to 90% is a relatively quicker process, something that worries nuclear nonproliferation experts,” notes The Associated Press.

Sold To The Highest Bidder

The Headline

French entrepreneur to purchase Sotheby’s auction house for $3.7 billion

The Grind

Sotheby’s this week announced it had accepted a merger offer from Patrick Drahi, a French-Israeli billionaire who founded telecom giant Altice.

“After more than 30 years as a public company, the time is right for Sotheby’s to return to private ownership and continue on a path of growth and success,” said a spokesperson.

Drahi’s $3.7 billion offer gives shareholders $57 per share (about $22 more than the current share price). If approved by shareholders and regulators, the merger will occur sometime later this year.

“Sotheby’s is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world,” says Drahi. “As a longtime client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family.”

The Background

Sotheby’s is a multinational auction house that handles fine art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles.

Sotheby’s was founded in London in 1744 and went public in the UK in 1977. A group of investors purchased and privatized the company in 1983.

That year, the American holding company was incorporated in Michigan.

In 1988, Sotheby’s owners took the company public and listed it on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “BID.”

Today, Sotheby’s has auction rooms in 10 cities throughout the world and is active online through its BidNow program. In February, the company reported $6.4 billion in sales for FY2018. Net income was about $109 million, down from $119 million in 2017.

Did you know… Henry Ford was Charles Lindbergh’s first passenger in the Spirit of St. Louis.