NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Saddam Hussein's spokesman has denied that Iraq tried to assassinate former Presiden Bush in Kuwait and said the allegation was aimed at justifying a U.S. attack on Iraq, the Iraqi News Agency reported today.

Sixteen people - 11 of them Iraqi nationals - and a 17th suspect still at large have been charged in Kuwait with conspiring to kill Bush. They allegedly planned to kill Bush with a bomb during his April 14-16 visit to Kuwait, in which he was treated as a hero for forming the U.S.-led coalition that ousted Iraqi forces from the emirate in 1991.

Abdul Jabbar Muhsin, Saddam's press secretary, said killing Bush with a bomb would be a waste of explosives.

He said assassinations were not the practice of Iraq, but ''were the practice of American policy decision-makers, who even assassinated their own president.''

That was a reference to President Kennedy's assassination, which some conspiracy theorists maintain was carried out by the CIA or FBI.

INA said that in his comments, published in today's al-Iraq newspaper, Muhsin wondered why Iraq would assassinate Bush. The INA dispatch was monitored in Nicosia.

Bush had ''committed suicide'' by forming the coalition forces, INA said, adding that Bush's preoccupation with Iraq and Kuwait cost Bush last November's election.

''We do not assassinate dead people,'' Muhsin said. ''Bush is already dead and does not deserve for us to waste several kilograms of explosives on him.''

Kuwait plans to put the suspects on trial.

Leaders in Congress have said the United States should retaliate if it is proven that Baghdad tried to kill Bush.