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U.S. deputy nuclear commander suspended during investigation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the American military's nuclear arsenal and its space operations, has been suspended during an investigation into issues related to gambling, a U.S. official said on Saturday.

Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina was suspended on September 3 over the probe, Strategic Command said, without offering details on the nature of the investigation being carried out by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

A spokesman for the investigative service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One U.S. official familiar with the investigation, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Giardina was being investigated for issues related to gambling but did not offer further details.

Another official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was not any sign of a compromise of classified materials and that the investigation was not looking into matters related to the mission of Strategic Command itself.

Strategic Command oversees everything from America's land-based nuclear missiles to space operations governing military satellites. It is located near Omaha, Nebraska.

The Omaha World-Herald first reported Giardina's suspension.

The investigation was initiated outside the military in June. Strategic Command was notified of that probe on July 16, and the next day the Naval Criminal Investigative Service started its investigation, which is still continuing, Strategic Command said.

The organization's commander, General Robert Kehler, has recommended that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reassign him, Strategic Command said.

Giardina was already expected to leave the post later this year, officials said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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