The country prepares for war as a member of the Iraqi Parliament says the U.N. report should avert an invasion.
March 8, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq urged the U.N. Security Council on Friday to stand up to "the law of the jungle" and vote down any resolution authorizing war. The chief U.N. weapons inspectors praised what they called new cooperation from Baghdad.
U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq had their quietest day in weeks, returning to supervise the excavation of buried bombs and visiting two sites in the northern city of Mosul.
In New York, chief inspector Hans Blix said Iraq's destruction of its Al Samoud 2 missiles constitutes a "substantial measure of disarmament," but neither Iraqi officials nor weapons inspectors gave any explanation for their apparent suspension Friday of the destruction program.
Friday was the first day no missiles were destroyed since Iraq met a March 1 U.N. deadline to start eliminating the rockets, which Blix said fly farther than allowed under U.N. resolutions adopted at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Mohammed Modhaffar al-Adhami, a member of Iraq's Parliament, said the reports from the weapons inspectors should be enough to avert a war.
"I hope that the American administration will stop its sins and be wise by listening to calls for peace echoing in all parts of the Earth," he said.
But there was no indication the Bush administration was backing down from its threats of attack. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Security Council that Saddam Hussein's intent "has not changed" and said Iraq's performance on disarmament is "still a catalog of noncooperation."
Al-Adhami accused Powell of twisting the chief inspector's words.
"We see that Colin Powell explained the report the way he likes, to serve his evil aims of launching aggression against Iraq," al-Adhami said.
The newspaper Al-Thawra, mouthpiece of Hussein's ruling Baath Party, said a proposed resolution was an attempt by the United States and Britain to seek "cover" for war.
"There is no justification for a new resolution and there is no objective need for it," the newspaper said in an editorial. "That's what every nation concerned about international security, the prestige of the United Nations and the upholding of international law -- instead of the law of the jungle -- must insist on."
Al-Thawra said it was important for the council to reject the resolution even if the United States and Britain "are determined to commit their crime without going back to the council." Bush said Thursday that he is prepared to wage war without council approval.
Iraqis, meanwhile, prepared for the worst. More sandbagged fighting positions and foxholes appeared throughout Baghdad, and policemen wearing green helmets and carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles lined key intersections.
Japan shut its embassy in the Iraqi capital and ordered its diplomats to leave, citing "heightened tensions," said Yushi Suzuki, an official at the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Iraq's deputy oil minister took journalists on a tour of Baghdad's al-Doura oil refinery, saying soldiers would take up arms to protect it and that foreigners were living inside to dissuade any invaders from bombing it. The refinery was bombed in the Gulf War.
"We have plans to defend these sites with arms," Hussein al-Hadithi said.
He denied Iraq would set fire to oil installations, but predicted that in the event of a war, the price of oil could reach $70 a barrel.
Oil prices have been rising dramatically, and came within a penny of $40 a barrel last week. Analysts have said fears of war are contributing to the increase.
Several dozen self-described "human shields" were scattered around the refinery.
"We are planning to stay here in the refinery if war breaks out," said Faith Fippinger, 62, a retired schoolteacher from Sarasota. "We are staying here because we think this war is unjust."
U.N. weapons inspectors visited a former helicopter airfield called al-Aziziya, 60 miles southeast of Baghdad, where Iraq has been unearthing 157 R-400 aerial bombs filled with anthrax, aflatoxin and botulin toxin that it says it destroyed there in 1991.
Inspectors are analyzing samples from the site to verify if they match Iraqi claims.
Another team visited several sites in the northern city of Mosul, including a seed company and the maintenance department of a railway station.
An American U-2 reconnaissance plane flew high over Iraq on Friday in support of the inspections, Iraq's Foreign Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Central Command said U.S. and British aircraft patrolling the southern "no-fly zone" attacked a radar system 230 miles west of Baghdad, which Iraq uses to locate, track and target aircraft.
U.S. and British planes have been enforcing zones in northern and southern Iraq since the Gulf War, originally to protect minority Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from Iraqi government forces -- but lately also to weaken Iraqi defenses as a prelude to war.