- BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq
warned the United States on Thursday it was ready to repel any invasion
with every weapon at its disposal, even kitchen knives, sticks and stones.
- Speaking only hours before President Bush was due to
address the U.N. General Assembly on Iraq, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji
Sabri said Iraq still hoped to avoid any attack.
- "But if we are attacked, we will choose our own
means by using everything at our disposal, even sticks, kitchen knives,
our hands and stones," he told Reuters in an interview before leaving
for New York to attend the General Assembly meeting.
- "We shall never let those Zionists invade our country,"
- Washington accuses Iraq of being part of an "axis
of evil" seeking weapons of mass destruction, and Bush's speech comes
amid mounting speculation that the United States is preparing to attack
Baghdad to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
- Bush will deliver a toughly worded challenge to the United
Nations in his speech, saying it must force Iraq to disarm or risk irrelevance.
- Implicit in Bush's message will be that the United States
stands ready to act on its own, but aides involved in preparing his speech
said Bush would not be delivering an ultimatum, essentially giving the
United Nations a last chance to act.
- U.N. arms experts, who began work in Iraq after the 1991
Gulf War over Kuwait, left Iraq in December 1998 ahead of a U.S.-British
campaign to punish Baghdad for its alleged failure to cooperate with them.
- Sabri said Iraq was ready to accept weapons inspections
in line with U.N. resolutions, restating Iraq's position that the inspectors'
return must be part of a comprehensive solution that includes lifting of
sanctions imposed for Iraq's occupation of Kuwait in 1990.
- The United Nations insists weapons inspectors return
unconditionally and be allowed full access to Iraqi facilities.
- "We look to the return of inspectors within the
(U.N.) Security Council's resolutions, and if the return is done in accordance
with these resolutions and to serve the purpose of the United Nations,
we have no problem with that," Sabri said.
- Under the U.N. resolutions, the crippling 12-year-old
sanctions on Iraq will be lifted once Baghdad destroys its weapons of mass
- Iraq has said for years that such weapons have been destroyed
and has branded U.S. and British claims that it is rebuilding its banned
weapons programs as "lies."
- "The return of inspectors is part of one resolution
and there are other resolutions...and we want all these resolutions implemented
not only one part," Sabri said.
- Sabri said Washington was manipulating the issue of weapons
inspections as a pretext for launching military action and extending its
influence in the Middle East that would ultimately give it control of the
- "The matter has nothing to do with weapons of mass
destruction. The aim is to control this region and to weaken all Arab countries
and make Israel number one (as) the ruling and dominating force in this
- "The United States wants to control oil of the region,
controlling Iraqi oil, Saudi oil and Gulf oil so as to be the first power
to decide economic growth rate," he said.
- Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world
behind Saudi Arabia.
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