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Amid U.S. and European sanctions that are driving Russia into the arms of its Asian neighbors, President Vladimir Putin has invited the North Korean leader to Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

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The West escalated the economic war against Tehran on Wednesday, imposing a new set of restrictions intended to deter the country’s nuclear ambitions by forcing it into what amounts to a form of barter trade for oil, The New York Times reports.

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Another story has emerged to further make the headline-ready case that tensions are ratcheting up between Tehran and Washington, this time from the espionage department. On Monday, news hit the wires that an Iranian court had sentenced 28-year-old Amir Mirzaei Hekmati to death for allegedly spying for the CIA.

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Tuesday brought another round of the tug of war between Iran and the U.S., in which Iran, no doubt feeling the need to respond to pressure and sanctions intended to thwart Tehran's alleged plan to build a nuclear weapon, hit back by making it clear that an American aircraft carrier needed to stay away from the "Persian Gulf region." Updated

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The price of oil is bad now, but it could get much worse, according to OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem el-Badri, if Iran became embroiled in a military conflict with the U.S. or Israel. If a war occurs, Badri says, there's no telling how high oil prices might climb.

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