Iraq vows to work with inspectors
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq says it will continue working with U.N. inspectors and do "whatever possible" to prove it does not have weapons of mass destruction.
"We will do whatever possible, in our hands, in our capabilities, to help them to reach the ultimate truth about the absence of weapons of mass destruction," Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said.
Aziz made his comments in Rome, Italy, where he met earlier on Friday with Pope John Paul II. (Full story)
"Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction," Aziz told reporters shortly after chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix gave a mixed report on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council. (Full story)
He added that Iraq did not need outside help to defend itself in the event of a U.S.-led war.
"We have enough brave men and women among the 25 million Iraqis to defend our own country. ... We are an experienced nation and we can protect our country against any aggression," he said.
Aziz also said Iraq does not have the capability to launch an attack against other countries. Asked whether Iraq would attack Israel, Aziz said: "We don't have the means to attack any country beyond our territory."
Iraq's U.N. ambassador denied U.S. allegations that Baghdad was poised to sabotage its own oil fields and said the allegations were part of a U.S. "symphony of propaganda."
Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri said the charge, leaked to U.S. media by intelligence sources, was simply the latest attempt by Washington to demonize Iraq amid the gathering threat of a U.S.-led war to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Aldouri also insisted Iraq was wholeheartedly cooperating with U.N. inspectors and had no illicit weapons of mass destruction, despite Washington's repeated statements that it did.
"We would like to stress that Iraq has chosen the path of peace. We want to reach solutions that satisfy the international community," Aldouri told the Security Council after Blix and IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei delivered their latest progress report on Iraqi disarmament.
In Baghdad, two leading members of the Iraqi parliament said the reports by Blix and ElBaradei showed that Iraq was in full compliance with the inspectors and indicated they "need more time to fulfill their task."
"The two reports show that Iraq has complied with the Resolution 1441 and Iraq hasn't got any weapons of mass destruction," said Mohammed Al-Adhami, an Iraqi parliament member.
"At the same time, it shows that (U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell's claims in front of the Security Council are baseless," Al-Adhami said.
Salem al-Kubaisi, head of the parliament's Arab and Foreign Relations Committee, said the reports proved "the credibility of Iraq's stance and refutes American allegations that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."
"Iraq is determined to continue full cooperation with inspection teams and make available for them all necessary requirements," Reuters quoted al-Kubaisi as saying.
Kubaisi urged the U.N. Security Council to "reject and stop American threats of aggression against Iraq."
Earlier on Friday, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein issued a decree banning the importation and production of weapons of mass destruction. (Full story)
The decree bans individuals and companies from importing or producing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons but makes no mention of government or state-run entities. The Iraqi government insists it possesses no such weapons.
"Iraq's new law banning production and importation of weapons of mass destruction means that Iraq has fulfilled all its commitment toward the U.N. resolution," Kubaisi said.
"Any aggression on Iraq means the collapse of the United Nations and the Security Council because if war happens it means they cannot provide security and peace for one of their members," Kubaisi added.
He said U.S. and British allegations that Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were "lies aimed at misleading public opinion in order to find an excuse for their aggression."
Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohamed al-Douri, was invited to sit at Security Council roundtable and was responding to Blix and ElBaradei's reports following comments by representatives of the council's 15 members.