Oil prices rise on Iran tensions

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Oil prices rose on Monday on heightened tensions over Iran, a major exporter of crude, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January, climbed 63 cents to $101.59 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for January delivery gained 82 cents to $110.76 in London midday deals.

"There are rising concerns over tension in the Middle East, especially talk of an impending oil embargo on Iran by the US and leading European nations," said Westhouse Securities analyst Peter Bassett.

A senior US official on Monday urged South Korea and other allies to expand sanctions on imports from Iran for its suspected nuclear weapons programme, calling the Islamic country "a pariah state."

Robert Einhorn, the US State Department's special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, said the allies should show a "clear and unified message."

Britain, Canada and the US slapped sanctions last month on Iran's financial, petrochemical and energy sectors following a UN agency report that strongly suggests Tehran is researching nuclear weapons.

The European Union followed suit by expanding a sanctions blacklist against Iranian firms and individuals, although Iran dismissed the UN report as baseless.

Tehran's military reportedly shot down a US Army drone inside its territory near the Afghan and Pakistani borders on Sunday.

© 2011 AFP

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