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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 05:27 GMT
'US will fabricate proof' says Iraq
An Iraqi soldier manning a mounted machine gun watches protesters passing by during an anti-US demonstration in Baghdad
Baghdad is defiant in the face of US pressure
The Iraqi official responsible for liaising with United Nations weapons inspectors says Baghdad expects Washington to fabricate evidence that the country harbours weapons of mass destruction.

General Hossam Mohammed Amin told the BBC that he expected US Secretary of State Colin Powell to present material consisting of "fabricated space photos or aerial photos" when he addresses the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

General Houssam Amin, director of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate
It is a political game

General Amin
US officials have been suggesting that Mr Powell's evidence will be dramatically damning.

This week's edition of Newsweek magazine reported that transcripts of tapes will reveal Iraqi officials plotting to hide material from the UN arms inspectors and boasting afterwards about how successful they had been.

UN resolutions passed since the 1991 Gulf War prohibit nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in Iraq. The US and the UK say that if Baghdad is found to be hiding banned weaponry they will disarm it by force if necessary.

Pledge to co-operate

General Amin dismissed Mr Powell's planned testimony to the UN Security Council as a "political game". He also hit out at media reports alleging that Iraq has portable facilities to produce biological weapons.

Hans Blix (l) and Mohamed ElBaradei
Chief inspectors: Due in Baghdad 8-9 February

He told reporters that there were two portable laboratories, but they were for inspecting foodstuffs.

But General Amin did stress that Iraq was keen to co-operate with the UN in their hunt for illegal weapons. He said Baghdad would "do our best" to make the body's two chief inspectors' next visit - on Saturday - successful.

Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei are hoping to persuade Iraq to allow U2 reconnaissance flights as part of the inspection process, and private interviews with Iraqi scientists, during their second round of Baghdad talks in three weeks.

Baghdad has also not said yet whether Mr Blix and Mr ElBaradei will be able to meet President Saddam Hussein.

Mr Amin said the schedule had not yet been discussed.

'Explosive evidence'

But Washington is reported to have hard evidence that Baghdad is not playing ball.

Newsweek quoted an intelligence official who had seen transcripts of tapes made by the highly secretive National Security Agency as saying, "hold on to your hat, we've got it".

Meanwhile, UN inspectors were refused entry to a university science faculty by Iraqi Kurdish authorities on Sunday.

Officials in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil said the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) had failed to inform the local government that they were coming.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Fiona Werge
"Diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraq crisis continue"
General Hossam Amin, Iraqi weapons directorate
"We are the side who invited these talks"

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See also:

02 Feb 03 | Americas
03 Feb 03 | Politics
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
02 Feb 03 | Politics
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Americas
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