Iraq Friday dismissed allegations that U.S. aid helped Baghdad build its armed forces and military industry prior to its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Al-Thwara, the ruling Baath Party newspaper, said in an editorial: "Recently, reports have surfaced in the American media that the U.S. administration represented in the criminal (President George) Bush is behind the scientific and technological progress in Iraq."There is not a grain of truth in all that has been reported on the (U.S.) aid to Iraq. It is an empty and silly claim."

It was the first reaction by an official Iraqi newspaper to investigation under way in Washington to unravel complex ties binding U.S. administration to Iraq before the gulf crisis.

Bush's opponents say his administration pursued misguided aid policies that helped arm Iraq prior to its August, 1990 invasion of Kuwait.