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In editorial, Iraq denies weapons program

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq denied it has weapons of mass destruction in a Sunday editorial published in a government-run newspaper, in response to claims by the United States that Iraq continues to develop such weapons.

"Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction to develop," the editorial stated. "All the long-range missiles were destroyed in addition to all equipment and machinery."

The editorial repeated Iraq's long-held stance in the official newspaper al-Thawra, the organ of the country's ruling Ba'ath party. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Iraq continues its plans to develop weapons of mass destruction, in a statement published in the U.S. newspaper the Washington Times.

The al-Thawra editorial charged that Powell's allegations were aimed at preventing the United Nations Security Council from lifting the economic embargo imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

One of the obligations Iraq must meet for sanctions to be lifted is a clean bill of health with regards to its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons program. U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq ahead of U.S. airstrikes in 1998, and have not been allowed back into the country since then. The al-Thawra editorial said the weapons inspectors that the United States is now pushing Iraq to allow in are "teams of spies."

The editorial accused Israel of being a regional threat, saying "it is the Zionist entity (Israel) which has weapons of mass destruction in the region. And it threatens the security and stability of the region."

Al-Thawra said the United States' foreign policy was the main cause of instability in the Middle East.

"To do Iraq injustice, to appease the Zionist entity at the expense of Arabs and favor America's double standards will not bring security to anybody. Nor will it create stability."

-- CNN's Rym Brahimi contributed to this report




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