MOSCOW, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - The chief of Russia's General Staff said Monday he could neither confirm nor deny reports that Ukraine had sold 250 nuclear warheads to Iran.
"Russia's General Staff has no information about whether Ukraine has given 250 nuclear warheads to Iran or not," General Yury Baluyevsky, also deputy defense minister, said in response to an article in Novaya Gazeta newspaper Monday. "I do not comment on unsubstantiated reports."
The newspaper said that Ukraine had failed to return 250 warheads to Russia in the 1990s when the former Soviet republic declared itself a nuclear-free zone. The paper suggested the warheads could have been sold to a third country, including Iran.
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Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.