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PRESSURE VALVE Oil Prices Spike to Nine-Month High Aamir Qureshi / AFP-Getty Images

Oil Prices Spike to Nine-Month High

Diplomatic brinksmanship is putting a strain on oil prices, which topped $105 a barrel Monday as Iran continues to fight Western countries over its nuclear ambitions. The Middle Eastern country stopped shipments of crude oil to Britain and France on Sunday in what is likely a response to plans by the European Union to impose further economic and trade sanctions. Iran’s oil minister warned of a possible cutoff earlier this month. The action is likely to have little impact on the two affected nations, however—France imports a mere 3 percent of its oil from Iran, and Britain stopped buying oil from the country six months ago.

February 20, 2012 10:58 AM