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Iraq Bans Weapons of Mass Destruction

Saddam Hussein banned nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on Friday, meeting a longtime U.N. demand even as top weapons inspectors told the Security Council they have found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The presidential decree, sought by the United Nations for more than a decade, prohibited the production or importation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and of all materials used to make them.

"All ministries should implement thite and 26,000 liters of anthrax short."

The ban appeared intended to head off a war threatened by the United States and Britain. But Saddam and top lieutenants said that if attacked, Iraqis will defend their country "with a spirit of faith and holy war."

"If the aggressors still attack, the blame should fall on them before God and the people," the leaders were quoted as saying by the official Iraqi News Agency. "Iraqis will fight them as a people and as an armed force."

The leaders called contentions that Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction "an excuse to be used by aggressors in the Security Council as a cover for aggression."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri told reporters in Syria that "with this (decree), we have met all that the inspectors demanded." Sabri was en route to an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in Egypt on Sunday.

The U.N. weapons inspection chiefs said that while Iraq has not been completely cooperative they have found no evidence that Iraq has resumed production of weapons of mass destruction. But they said some banned weapons materials have not been accounted for.

"One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded," chief inspector Hans Blix said.

The United States and Britain are trying to declare Iraq in violation of U.N. disarmament orders and are seeking support from other Security Council members to authorize military action. Members Russia, France and Germany want to give the inspectors more time in the absence of firm evidence that Iraq still has banned weapons.

Iraq considered the reports by Blix and ElBaradei to be key in encouraging or deterring war.

"A historic responsibility lies on the shoulders of Blix and ElBaradei," Al-Thawra, the newspaper of Iraq's ruling Baath Party, said in a front-page editorial Friday. "We hope they are fit for this responsibility."

Moments before Blix and ElBaradei delivered their reports, Iraq's 250-seat parliament held an emergency session and unanimously adopted a resolution accusing the United States and Britain of scheming to "control Iraq and the Arab world, steal its oil and wealth and draw a new political map on an ethnic, sectarian and colonial basis."

"The claims by Bush and (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have been refuted through visits to hundreds of sites in which inspectors have not found any arms or banned material," the parliament said.

After the session, the parliament issued a statement saying that it "blesses" demonstrations and strikes "all over the Arab world, and the whole world."

"Let's struggle against the enemy, and achieve victory," the statement said.

The elimination of weapons programs was mandated in U.N. resolutions at the end of the 1991 Gulf War, in which a U.S.-led coalition drove Iraq's occupying army out of Kuwait. After that war, U.N. inspectors oversaw the destruction of most of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and dismantled the country's program to develop nuclear weapons.

After a four-year break, the inspections resumed in November to search for remaining weapons or revived programs.

On Friday, an inspection team headed to a chemical weapons installation where they have been destroying artillery shells and neutralizing mustard gas, while another conducted an aerial survey of an army chemical warfare training facility, according to a spokesman for the inspectors in Baghdad.

Farther south, U.S. fighter planes bombed a mobile surface-to-air missile system on Friday, the third strike around the southern Iraqi city of Basra this week by planes enforcing a "no fly" zone. A U.S. military statement said the missile system posed a threat to U.S. planes.

The Iraqi News Agency cited an unidentified military spokesman as saying that "enemy" planes attacked "civilian and service" installations.