Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, March 10, 2003

Iraq Well-prepared for Any US-British Military Offensive: Official

Iraq said Sunday it is well prepared for an expected US-British military offensive which it believed unavoidable despite its recent disarmament efforts.


Iraq said Sunday it is well prepared for an expected US-British military offensive which it believed unavoidable despite its recent disarmament efforts.

"We are preparing ourselves for war, and at the same time we are working with the UNMOVIC and the IAEA," Mohammad Amin, chief of theIraqi National Monitoring Directorate, told a news conference here.

The Iraqi official made the remarks at a time when a US-led war is looming large, as the United States and Britain have massed about 250,000 troops in the Gulf region. The United States and Britian are pressuring Baghdad to fully disarm itself of weapons ofmass destruction or face war.

"All the Iraqi people shall fight any foreign troops that may try to launch an aggression on Iraq, which is prepared for all probabilities along with its readiness to settle all suspended problems with the UNMOVIC and the IAEA," Amin said.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been in charge of investigating the suspected Iraq's programs of developing weapons of mass destruction.

Asked if the United States or Britain are determined to wage a war regardless of Iraq's disarmament efforts, Amin said: "Yes."

Countering the US-British claims, Amin insisted Iraq has destroyed all banned weapons of mass destruction as proven by the Un inspectors, who he said Iraq "is fully cooperating with."

He said Baghdad is still working on a detailed report on the poisonous nerve gas VX and anthrax, saying it "would be an important document proving that Iraq had destroyed all their stock in 1991."

He expressed the hope that the UNMOVIC and the IAEA could draw aconclusion that Iraq is now free of weapons of mass destruction.

Amin's remarks were made two days after chief UN weapons inspectors delivered updated reports to the UN Security Council on Iraq's disarmament.

At the open session of the UN Security Council on Friday, Hans Blix, head of the UNMOVIC, praised Baghdad for its "active, or evenproactive" cooperation with UN inspectors to resolve some long-standing disarmament issues.

But the top UN inspector also conceded that the Iraqi initiatives "cannot be said to constitute immediate cooperation, nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance."

Meanwhile, Iraq continued to destroy the banned Al Samoud 2 missiles, as six more such missiles were destroyed Sunday, bringingthe total number of destroyed missiles to 46.

Iraq is reported to have a stockpile of 120 Al Samoud missiles, which Blix ordered in early March to destroy because they exceed the UN-set range of 150 km.

On the Iraqi Russian-made Volga missiles, Amin said their engines were similar to those of Al Samoud 2 and the UNMOVIC had agreed to allow Iraq to keep them intact.

At the news briefing, Amin disclosed that Blix may visit Iraq onMarch 17, a deadline set by the United States for Baghdad to prove it has fully disarmed or face war.

"Blix could visit Iraq on March 17," he said, adding "I say 'could' because it is not confirmed."

He said Iraq received a report from the UNMOVIC early Sunday, which was believed to touch upon Iraq's programs of developing biological, chemical and ballistics weapons.

"We will cooperate with the UNMOVIC to resolve these questions as quickly as possible," Amin added.

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