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. Iran incapable of nuclear weapon: Russian military chief
MOSCOW, April 15 (AFP) Apr 15, 2006
Iran is incapable of producing a nuclear weapon now or in the distant future, Russia's highest-ranking military officer said Saturday, Russian news agencies reported.

"I can confidently say that what Iran is doing today does not allow it the possibility, either in the near or distant future, to make a nuclear weapon," chief of staff General Yury Baluyevsky was quoted as saying by Interfax and ITAR-TASS.

Baluyevsky characterised Iran's military capability as being aimed only "at preventing military action" against the country, ITAR-TASS reported.

However, he did not rule out that materials used in the Islamic republic's controversial civilian nuclear programme "could be used also in the creation of a nuclear weapon."

Russia is Iran's main supplier of civilian nuclear technology and also an important source of conventional weapons.

The United States and European Union say they suspect Iran is secretly trying to build a nuclear weapon under cover of a civilian power project, something Tehran denies.

Tension increased last Tuesday when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that the Islamic republic had successfully enriched uranium for use as nuclear fuel, sparking international condemnations.

Moscow insists the country has a right to nuclear power and has pushed hard for a diplomatic solution to the international standoff.

Deputy foreign ministers from Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany plan talks on the Iranian issue in Moscow next Tuesday.

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