Baghdad defies 'US duplicity'

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The Independent Online
BAGHDAD (Agencies) - Before it backed down last night in the face of military threats to enforce UN disarmament measures, Iraq had defiantly accused the United States of allowing Israel to ignore UN resolutions.

Western double standards had provoked the crisis over United Nations efforts to search the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry for suspected weapons secrets, al- Thawra, the ruling Baath party newspaper, said.

Iraq denies that the ministry has such secrets and says an inspection would be a violation of its sovereignty. At the moment when the United States and its allies were denouncing Iraq, 'they sent (Secretary of State) Baker to humour the Zionists who have rejected hundreds of UN Security Council resolutions,' al-Thawra said. It condemned what it called this 'hideous duplicity'.

'Nobody can convince the Iraqis that the resolutions adopted by the 'American' Security Council against Iraq are those of international law,' it said.

The allies had 'just realised' that Iraq had managed to rebuild in the 18 months since the end of the Gulf War and they wanted to subject Baghdad to 'pressure and blackmail'.

The newspaper also gave prominence yesterday to a new book reviving Iraq's long-standing claim to Kuwait. It carried extracts from the book, published by Basra University, which claims that 'Kuwait is part of Iraq and a natural geographical extension to Iraqi territory'. Iraq claimed Kuwait as its 19th province when it invaded its neighbour in August 1990.

But yesterday's press commentaries were more subdued than those on Saturday when the threat of military action appeared more remote.

'The army and people of Iraq are ready to confront all plots against the sovereignty and dignity' of Iraq, the official newspaper of the Defence Ministry, al- Qadissiya, said.

The daily Babel, run by Saddam Hussein's son, Uday, accused the United States of wanting to assassinate the Iraqi leader. 'What is being plotted against Iraq targets the President himself' because 'the United States does not wish that a man who is a model for those who love their country can stay alive,' it said.

In a separate attack, Iraq's Oil Minister, Usama al-Hiti, yesterday accused Saudi Arabia of flooding the world oil market and driving down prices. He was quoted by the Iraqi news agency, Ina, as saying that Saudi Arabia was losing about dollars 3m ( pounds 1.58m) a day by producing too much oil, while the US and other Western oil consumers were benefiting.