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    No grounds to expect early U.S. strike against Iran - Russian diplomat

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    There are no grounds to expect a U.S. attack on Iran in the next few days, a deputy Russian foreign minister said Thursday.

    MOSCOW, April 5 (RIA Novosti) - There are no grounds to expect a U.S. attack on Iran in the next few days, a deputy Russian foreign minister said Thursday.

    The last few days have seen reports in Russian and foreign media that the U.S. has scheduled an operation, codenamed Bite, against Iran for 4:00 a.m. local time April 6. The operation to deliver air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities was to have lasted more than 12 hours.

    "Our contacts with the U.S. side give no grounds for such expectations," Alexander Losyukov said.

    The U.S. has not excluded a military option in the standoff with Iran over its refusal to abandon its uranium enrichment program. The UN Security Council passed a new resolution on Iran two weeks ago toughening economic sanctions against the country and accepting the possibility of a military solution to the crisis.

    Last week, a Russian security official said that Russian intelligence had information that U.S. Armed Forces had nearly completed preparations for a possible military operation against Iran and would be ready to strike in early April.

    The U.S. Administration sees Iran as a "rogue state" and is determined to stop the Islamic Republic, diplomatically or otherwise, from obtaining nuclear weapons. Washington now plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Central Europe allegedly to protect itself from potential missile strikes from Iran or North Korea.

    Russia, which is separated from Iran in the south by three tiny South Caucasus nations and shares a sea border with the Islamic Republic, has been actively promoting a diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue.

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