UNITED NATIONS – Iraq's U.N. ambassador criticized President Bush's speech to the General Assembly on Thursday, saying it lacked credibility and was motivated by revenge and political ambition.
"He chooses to deceive the world and his own people by the longest series of fabrications that have ever been told by a leader of a nation," Ambassador Mohamed al-Douri said.
It was the first Iraqi reaction to Bush's speech, in which the president warned Baghdad to comply with U.N. resolutions or face the consequences.
"We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather," Bush told the U.N. General Assembly. "We must stand up for our security and for the permanent rights and hopes of mankind."
Al-Douri responded by saying: "We don't care about the position of the United States. If they are threatening, if they would attack, certainly we will be there for defending ourselves."
Al-Douri said further Iraqi reaction would come when Iraq had its turn at addressing the assembly later in the week.
Bush's speech was delivered during the early evening Baghdad time, but offerings on the four Iraqi televisions stations included only a Syrian movie, a Mexican soap opera, sports and Kurdish programming. State radio stations kept to their regular programming.
Ordinary Iraqis following the action at the United Nations and waiting to see whether the outcome will lead to war could hear the speech on short wave radio. Satellite dishes are banned in Iraq, so the pan-Arab station al-Jazeera's live broadcast of the speech was unavailable.
In his speech, Bush demanded world leaders force Saddam Hussein to destroy his weapons of mass destruction, saying the lives of millions of people will be at risk and the United Nations "will be irrelevant" unless it confronts Iraq.
But al-Douri said the president failed to "find any evidence that Iraq possesses or develops weapons of mass destruction."
"I would have been pleased if the U.S. president would have talked about his true motives behind his speech -- revenge, oil, political ambitions and also the security of Israel, and targeting every independent state that would refuse to adhere to the American policy."
Iraq is accused of maintaining stocks of chemical and biological weapons while seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and Bush insists Saddam must be ousted because of the threat he will use the arms. Iraq says it has ended its programs for weapons of mass destruction. Talks with the United Nations on resuming arms inspections -- blocked by Baghdad for nearly four years -- have stalemated.
Baghdad says it is willing to talk to the United Nations about readmitting the inspectors, but says the talks must also deal with lifting sanctions and other aspects of the world's standoff with Iraq. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has refused this, saying Iraq must first let inspectors back in unconditionally before the other issues can be addressed.
Under U.N. resolutions, sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until inspectors verify Baghdad has ended programs to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.