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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Hands Weapons Report to United Nations

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The Iraqi government, denying it has prohibited weapons, handed over to the United Nations on Saturday its long-awaited declaration on chemical, biological and nuclear programs. At the same moment, President Saddam Hussein issued an apology to the Kuwaiti people for invading their country in 1990.

A top adviser to Hussein said Sunday that the United States should "come up with it" if it has any evidence that Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction, said Lieutenant General Amer Al-Saadi. "Why play a game?"

The dramatic, fast-paced events Saturday in Baghdad were clearly designed as a bid by the Iraqi leadership to extricate the nation from the war and sanctions that have ostracized it from most of the world for more than a decade.

Iraqi government vehicles drove to the UN compound on Baghdad's outskirts bearing a half-dozen boxes and bags holding the arms documents totaling more than 12,000 pages.

One set of the documents goes to the UN nuclear agency in Vienna, one to the UN inspection agency in New York, and one -- in a black tote bag with a red seal -- to the UN Security Council.

The filing of the thousands of pages of technical detail, which a UN resolution had demanded by this weekend, now shifts the Iraq crisis into a new stage, as Washington and Baghdad move step by step toward a crossroads between war and peace.

As the documents were being transferred, the Iraqi information minister appeared on national television to read the historic letter from Hussein to the people of Kuwait, more than 12 years after his army invaded their country, at the start of a seven-month occupation that ended only when a huge U.S.-led coalition drove the Iraqis out in 1991.

"We apologize to God about any act that has angered him in the past and that was held against us, and we apologize to you [the Kuwaitis] on the same basis," wrote Hussein, president for 23 years.

But he also assailed Kuwait's leaders, saying they were working "with foreigners" to attack Iraq, and he referred to Kuwait, where thousands of U.S. troops have been based since the 1991 war, as being under American occupation.

In Kuwait, Information Minister Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah rejected Hussein's apology as unworthy of a response and accused the Iraqi leader of inciting terror attacks.

"The speech contained words to which we would rather not stoop and respond," Al Sabah said. Mohammed al-Jassem, editor of the Kuwait daily Al-Watan, said the speech "cannot be considered an apology by any means."

Hussein's comments carefully avoided use of the word "invasion" in describing what he did to Kuwait and cast blame on the Kuwaiti leadership and the United States, which again is threatening war if Iraq does not abandon its alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Earlier in the day, Lieutenant General Hossam Mohammed Amin, who oversaw preparation of the arms declaration, said it "will answer all the questions which have been addressed during the last months and years."

Amin also said it would name companies and countries that helped Iraq develop weapons of mass destruction in the past, information that could help in prosecutions under other nations' export-control laws.

For all the expectation surrounding it, the document was an anti-climax, since it was known that Baghdad would declare it has no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Bush administration officials reject that, saying they are sure Iraq still harbors such armaments. If it does not disarm, they say, they will seek Security Council sanction for military action against Iraq. Failing that, they say, Washington would initiate such an attack on its own.

Through months of threats against Iraq, U.S. officials have not presented conclusive evidence of such weapons, including in a CIA report released just two months ago. A White House spokesman said Thursday, however, that "solid evidence" would be turned over to UN inspectors, without saying what it was or when it would be conveyed.

UN chief inspector Hans Blix urged Washington to share any evidence. "We would like to have as much information from any member state as evidence that [Iraq] may have weapons of mass destruction," he said.

A Security Council resolution adopted Nov. 8 required Iraq to file by Dec. 8 an "accurate, full, and complete declaration" of all such weapons programs. It was also required to report "all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programs," even if not weapon-related.

"Iraq's timely submission of its declaration, parallel to its continued cooperation with the international weapons inspectors, confirms its commitment to act in compliance with" the latest Security Council resolution on Iraqi arms, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday in a statement issued in Moscow.