The U.S. Navy carrier strike group and U.S. Air Force bombers deployed to the Middle East to counter Iran conducted simulated strike drills near Iran this weekend as tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high.

The U.S. began deploying numerous troops and military assets to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility last month in response to intelligence indicating that Iran was plotting attacks on U.S. interests in the region.

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Russia's conventionally-powered Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier (Associated Press)

Russia wants to build its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Russian state media reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources in the shipbuilding industry.

The carrier, a source told TASS, "will have a nuclear energy unit and displacement of about 70,000 [metric tons]," which would make it smaller than U.S. carriers but still larger than Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the steam-powered Admiral Kuznetsov, which suffered a devastating accident last fall.

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Vice President Mike Pence after a speech aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in Norfolk, Virginia, April 30, 2019. (Associated Press/Steve Helber)

Before Vice President Mike Pence arrived aboard the USS Harry S. Truman on Tuesday, US Navy sailors were instructed to "clap like we're at a strip club" by the ship's senior enlisted sailor.

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With two U.S. aircraft carriers operating in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time since 2016, it would be hard for Russia to miss the intended message.

But to hammer the point home, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman visited the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on Tuesday, according to a 6th Fleet news release.

"Each of the carriers operating in the Mediterranean at this time represent 100,000 tons of international diplomacy," Huntsman said in the news release. "Diplomatic communication and dialogue coupled with the strong defense these ships provide demonstrate to Russia that if it truly seeks better relations with the United States, it must cease its destabilizing activities around the world."

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A photo taken from a Norwegian surveillance aircraft shows Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in international waters off the coast of Northern Norway on October 17, 2016. (Reuters)

Russia is admitting it may be forced to scrap its only aircraft carrier as the troubled flagship suffered a catastrophic shipyard accident last fall.

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The U.S. Navy's new supercarrier continues to face major problems that will delay its delivery to the fleet for three months as the service bets big on this troubled ship, Navy officials revealed Tuesday.

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