Iraq's U.N. envoy told the Security Council on Saturday that if massive, high-altitude bombing of his country continues, the Baghdad government would be justified in using chemical weapons.

"We consider use of mass destructive weapons against Iraq would justify Iraq to use, unfortunately, mass destructive weapons," Abdul Amir al-Anbari told reporters when asked whether Iraq might use chemical arms."We don't have nuclear weapons," al-Anbari said, "but we can use other weapons - if the allied strategy of high-altitude bombing continues."

Al-Anbari also suggested that Iraq's call for Israel to leave the occupied territories might not be a fixed demand linked to any Iraqi pullout from Kuwait.

"Actually we shouldn't use the word condition, we shouldn't use the word linkage," Al-Anbari said. "Sometimes we become captive of our own misunderstanding.

"Of course some issues could be implemented instantly, others would require months of negotiation and so on," al-Anbari said.

But British Ambassador Sir David Hannay said Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait was non-negotiable.

"To treat withdrawal as a negotiation pawn for which to expect concessions is unacceptable," he said.

Al-Anbari is Iraq's highest-ranking diplomat in the United States, since Iraq recalled its ambassador to Washington and severed diplomatic ties. He made the statements after leaving a closed meeting of the Security Council.

The council later went back into closed session to consider Iraq's withdrawal offer from Friday, then adjourned and set a new meeting, also closed, for Tuesday.

During the meeting, al-Anbari hinted at but did not explicitly threaten the use of chemical weapons, several diplomats said. Iraq has previously threatened to use chemical weapons against Israel and against forces arrayed against it.