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Official: Russia has right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea

By Andrew V. Pestano

MOSCOW, March 11 (UPI) -- A Russian non-proliferation official said Russia has the right "in principle" to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea.

"I have no idea if any nuclear weapons are deployed there now, and I am unaware of such plans, but Russia can do it," Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's non-proliferation department, said at a news conference.

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Crimea would be one of the closest nuclear bases to central Europe where Russia could deploy the weapons.

Ulyanov also accused the United States of violating provisions on the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Crimea was formally taken over from Ukraine and returned to Russia on March 18, 2014, to global reproach and disapproval. Many international organizations still consider the act illegal.

Armed troops bearing no identification on their uniforms later seized the Crimean Parliament. Russia initially denied involvement, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted Russian troops were sent to Crimea and "stood behind Crimea's self-defense force."

Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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