Hours before the top U.N. arms inspectors give a report to the U.N. Security Council that could influence the chance or timing of any war, Saddam also reiterated that Iraq was free of any such weapons, a claim the United States rejects.
The decree is an at least symbolic gesture by the Iraqi president to meet one of the demands that chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei made when they visited Baghdad in mid-January.
“Individuals and companies in private and mixed sectors are banned from importing and producing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons,” the presidential decree read.
Saddam ordered his ministers to take all necessary measures to implement the decree and the Iraqi parliament was scheduled to meet shortly to approve the legislation.
The Iraqi News Agency (INA) earlier said Saddam had chaired a meeting of top officials to say the country had no biological, chemical or nuclear arms — but would fight anyone who attacked.
“Those meeting…wanted to assure those whom it may concern in our great people, nation and humanity that Iraq is free of the so-called weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological,” INA said.
“They are totally confident that this cover (banned weapons) is over and the aggressors can’t use it as a pretext or an excuse in front of the Security Council to make it a cover for aggression,” INA said.
“If the aggressors attack after this…the Iraqi people and armed forces will fight them in a spirit of holy struggle that would please friends and infuriates the enemy.”