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He's baaaack: Fidel Castro issues dire warnings of Iran-US nuclear war

Forget the Cuba prisoner swap to Spain, Fidel Castro wanted to sound off about Iran last night, and that he did – on TV – in his most prominent public appearance in years.

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A man watches Cuba's leader Fidel Castro on a TV set, during an interview with Cubavision, on its talk show 'Round Table.' in Havana, Monday, July 12.

Franklin Reyes/AP

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It was dubbed a discussion about the Middle East, and Fidel Castro, Cuba's ailing revolutionary icon, did not veer far from the subject on his most prominent public appearance in years.

During an hour-long current affairs show that aired Monday night in Cuba, Mr. Castro avoided discussing the current events of Cuba. He even steered clear of the top issue on the minds of most: the release of 52 political prisoners that began today as seven were freed after flying to Madrid.

As with all things Castro, speculation is rife. What's behind the timing of the appearance? Was he trying to put a mark on the prisoner release deal – reached last week between Cuba, Spanish officials, and the church – which has generally been greeted positively on the world stage? Or was it the contrary: an unspoken message that Cuba is not letting down its guard? Or was it simply a coincidence, one that keeps Cubans and the world guessing as they so often have over the former president's reign?

Fidel sported a track suit, spoke in hoarse tones

Fidel Castro appeared on "The Round Table" last night in a customary track suit (this time a dark blue one, over a plaid shirt). He's sported track suits since he fell ill in 2006 and handed over the helm of the country to his younger brother, Raúl Castro. He appeared in good condition and at times spoke dramatically, even if his voice is no longer the robust one of his youth, when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and became the archenemy of the US.

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