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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 17:31 GMT
Saddam issues arms ban
Iraqi lawmakers at emergency session
An emergency session of parliament backed the president
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has issued a decree outlawing weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraqi parliament opened an emergency session to ratify the decree shortly before the United Nations Security Council convened to discuss Iraq's disarmament.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Individuals and companies in the private and mixed sectors are banned from importing, producing, or manufacturing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons

Decree by Saddam Hussein
The new law forbidding the production or import of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons was a key demand of Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector.

But the United States denounced Saddam Hussein's move as too little and too late.

Baghdad has rejected allegations - notably from the US and UK - that it has weapons of mass destruction in contravention of UN demands that it disarm.

Pressure

It has also insisted that it is co-operating with the inspectors sent back to Iraq by the UN after a Security Council resolution last November.

Anti-war protesters in Bosnia
Iraqi legislators praised anti-war protesters around the world

Correspondents say Saddam Hussein's new decree is a sign that he has bowed to intense international pressure to go further.

The presidential decree reads: "Individuals and companies in the private and mixed sectors are banned from importing, producing, or manufacturing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. This applies to both materials and weapons.

"Ministries concerned, each according to its prerogatives, shall implement this decree and do what is necessary to penalise whoever violates its provisions."

The Iraqi parliament approved the decree unanimously.

Its emergency session also backed a resolution accusing the US and UK 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".

If one would want to make believe and pretend that Iraq is a democracy that could pass meaningful laws, it would be 12 years late and 26,00 litres of anthrax short

Ari Fleischer,
White House spokesman

The parliamentarians also praised Saddam Hussein and wanted "to salute and greet" huge anti-war demonstrations scheduled to take place around the world on Saturday.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said he did not see "any credibility" in the Iraqi president's decree.

"If one would want to make believe and pretend that Iraq is a democracy that could pass meaningful laws, it would be 12 years late and 26,00 litres of anthrax short," he said.


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See also:

14 Feb 03 | Politics
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
14 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Politics
19 Sep 02 | Europe
14 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
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