January 1, 2012
TEHRAN — Iran announced a nuclear fuel breakthrough and test-fired a new radar-evading medium-range missile in the Persian Gulf on Sunday, moves that could further antagonize the West at a time when Tehran is trying to avert harsh new sanctions on its oil industry.
On Saturday, President Obama signed a law imposing tougher financial sanctions to penalize Iran for a nuclear research program that the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
The move could for the first time hurt Tehran’s oil exports; the European Union is due to consider similar steps soon.
As tensions have risen, Iran threatened last week to close the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow gulf shipping lane through which 40 percent of world oil flows, if sanctions hit its oil exports.