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U.S. deputy nuclear commander fired over gambling probe

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

Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, who had already been suspended from his post on September 3, was notified on Wednesday that he was formally relieved. He will also drop in rank from a three-star to two-star admiral because of the loss of his command, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Reuters previously reported his suspension from the post.

Giardina is believed to have used at least $1,500 in fake gambling chips while playing poker as a casino in Iowa, the Omaha World-Herald newspaper has reported, quoting a local prosecutor.

Officials have said Giardina is not being investigated for compromising any classified materials. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is also not looking into matters related to the mission of Strategic Command itself, officials said.

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

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

(Reporting by Phil Stewart. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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