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Kazakhstan denies deal to sell warheads to Iran

Published Oct. 12, 2005

Kazakhstan and the commonwealth military headquarters in Moscow denied on Tuesday that Iran bought four nuclear warheads from this former Soviet republic.

A leader of an Iranian opposition group charged Monday that Tehran had paid for the warheads but that they had not yet been delivered from Kazakhstan.

Seitkazy Matayev, press secretary to Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, said there was no such deal.

Valery Matayev, a spokesman for the Commonwealth of Independent States' military command, noted Kazakhstan signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May.

In a column Monday in the Washington Post, Rowland Evans and Robert Novak said the claim by the People's Mujahedeen "matches U.S. intelligence reports received several weeks ago."

Yeltsin intervenes for grounded Gorbachev: President Boris Yeltsin intervened with Russia's highest court Tuesday, paving the way for rival Mikhail Gorbachev to bypass the tribunal's travel ban and attend a state funeral in Germany.

Chairman Valery Zorkin announced that the Constitutional Court's summons to Gorbachev, former head of the Soviet Communist Party, remained in force. But he said a strict travel ban had been lifted on "humanitarian grounds."

The move would allow Gorbachev to attend the funeral Saturday of former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt _ an architect of early East-West detente.

Yeltsin's intervention was apparently designed to cool passions in his latest dispute with longtime rival Gorbachev.

Arms factory chief to head Ukraine: The Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Leonid Kuchma, the longtime head of the world's biggest missile plant, as new prime minister.

The 54-year-old rocket designer, whose predecessor resigned Oct. 2 after being accused of stalling on economic reforms, received 316 votes in the 377-member Parliament.

Kuchma had been considered a supporter of market reforms, and was the favorite of Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, whose government of primarily former Communists had been criticized for resisting changes.

_ Information from Reuters was used in this report.