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The clock is ticking closer to the midnight hour regarding a strike in Iran. Israel might do it alone, but will likely have the backing of the US.

Is a war imminent, or are these moves just meant to scare Iran?  Here are 5 signs that have piled up very recently.

  1. SWIFT Cuts Iran Off: The international institution responsible for around 80% of the world’s financial transactions  announced  that it will cut off Iranian financial institutions from its system from Saturday. This unprecedented move is a big blow to Iran, and follows up on EU sanctions.
  2. Majority in Israeli cabinet for strike: Israeli newspaper Maariv (Hebrew link, quote in English)  by Ben Caspit saying that 8 out of 14 Israeli cabinet members now support a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The cabinet can give Prime Minister Netanyahu the green light for a strike, at the time he sees fit.
  3. Netanyahu preparing Israeli public: The Israeli Prime Minister continues the tough rhetoric against Iran also after coming back from his long visit in the US. Analysts see this as a preparation of the Israeli public for a war.
  4. Using Oil Reserves: There was a report, later denied, that the US and the UK decided on releasing oil from the emergency reserves in order to lower prices. This could be another preparation.
  5. “Last Chance” Warning: According to Russian sources, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  asked  the Russians to send a message to Iran that the upcoming talks 6 nation talks with Iran are the last chance before military action.

Needless to say, oil prices certainly play a role in the considerations of all sides. Iran is the world’s 5th largest producer of oil, and sits on the Straights of Hormuz, where 40% of the world’s shipments pass through.

All these moves could mount to a preparation for a US backed Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. It could also just add to pressure against Iran, trying to force it to comply without really engaging in military action.

There are many other interests that push leaders to higher rhetoric, such as internal politics. Here are

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