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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oil Hits $70 Over Fears U.S. Plans to Attack Iran

LONDON -- U.S. crude oil prices hit $70 on Monday, the highest level for nearly eight months, as Iran's pursuit of its nuclear program heightened fears that the United States might take military action against the oil-producing nation.

The session peak was the highest since Hurricane Katrina battered oil infrastructure on the U.S. Gulf Coast and drove U.S. crude to a record of $70.85 on Aug. 30 last year.

London's Brent crude on Monday rose 54 cents to $71.11 after touching a new record-high of $71.40.

"The drama over Iran's face-off with the West, the rise of insurgency in Nigeria and gasoline supply concerns in the U.S. ahead of the driving season are keeping a high floor under oil," said Victor Shum at consultancy Purvin&Gertz in Singapore.

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Monday that Iran would continue to enrich uranium following its announcement last week it had enriched uranium for use in power stations. "The Islamic Republic of Iran does not intend to stop," he told reporters in Kuwait.

The West suspects the nation is trying to build an atomic bomb, and talk of a U.S. attack has topped the international news agenda since a report in the New Yorker magazine this month said Washington was considering using tactical nuclear weapons to knock out Iran's subterranean nuclear sites. Fear of possible disruption of supplies from Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, have helped to drive the price of U.S. crude 20 percent higher since mid-February.

Another concern is the shut-in of more than 500,000 barrels per day in Nigeria following militant unrest.