Iraq's ambassador here said yesterday that his nation has lost patience with Iran's refusal to accept the cease-fire resolution passed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council in July and will shortly resume its attacks on Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf.

"We are going to hit more ships in Iranian territorial waters, which is a war zone, until Iran accepts the whole Security Council resolution," the ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, said.

"Whether we hit this week or next week is a question of tactics. Our strategy is to continue to hit their ships until they accept the Security Council resolution," he added in an interview. "We may do that tomorrow, we may do that in the next few days."

Iran has repeatedly threatened to retaliate against any renewed Iraqi hostilities in the "tanker war" by resuming its attacks on Kuwaiti-bound ships, including the 11 oil carriers Kuwait has placed under the American flag. The United States, which has assembled more than 30 warships in the gulf area, has pledged to protect the reflagged Kuwaiti tankers.

U.S. officials said they took the Iraqi warning seriously but suggested Iraq might be making the threats mainly as a tactic to step up pressure on Iran to accept a cease-fire in the 7-year-old war.

"We take it seriously. We don't think it's just bluff. But there is a lot of {diplomatic} maneuvering going on," said one official. "I think Iraq is trying to keep the pressure on Iran."

The United States has been counseling restraint by Iraq, which has accepted the U.N. cease-fire resolution, to avoid further complicating Washington diplomatic efforts on a second U.N. Security Council resolution. That proposal would impose an arms embargo on Iran if it refused to accept the cease-fire resolution.

The Iraqi threat to resume tanker attacks could also be a ploy to pressure the superpowers to move on the proposed resolution, according to some U.S. officials. Washington has stated that it favors an arms embargo but Moscow has said it is "premature" to consider imposing such a measure on Iran.

Hamdoon dismissed Iranian threats of retaliation against U.S.-escorted Kuwaiti tankers if and when Iraq resumes its attacks on Iranian ships. "We don't think that the Iranian rhetoric will be met by action," he said.

"I really don't think the Iranians will go for a clash with other parties, not just the United States but even when it comes to smaller Arab countries in the gulf," he said, "because they know this would add a new burden on them."

Hamdoon, 43, who has served as Iraq's ambassador here since Baghdad resumed diplomatic relations with Washington in November 1984, leaves Sept. 6 to become Iraq's deputy foreign minister in charge of bilateral relations. His tenure here included a year as head of the Iraqi interest section before the resumption of diplomatic ties.

In the interview, Hamdoon said his government had lost patience with Iran's refusal to accept the U.N. cease-fire resolution and charged Tehran had merely exploited the lull in the "tanker war" to increase its oil exports.

"There is a very simple reason behind our feeling of impatience: the fact Iran is now exporting oil to its maximum capacity. All that means money and money means weapons," he said. "For that reason, Iraq cannot, for whatever regional reasons, keep this game going with Iran getting more money and therefore financing its war machine."

Iran is reported to be exporting about 2 million barrels a day, up about 500,000 barrels from a year ago and about 200,000 to 400,000 barrels more than last spring.

Iraq initiated the "tanker war" in the spring of 1984 in a bid to reduce, if not cut off altogether, Iran's oil exports. Since then, it has been responsible for the majority of the more than 300 attacks on ships in the gulf.

Hamdoon conceded that past Iraqi attacks on Iranian tankers had not succeded in crippling its enemy's oil exports. But he defended the practice, saying that, "whatever the efficiency was -- 10 percent or 80 percent -- we think it's worth it. It will put a squeeze on them {the Iranians} . . . . It's a total war and every factor has a role to play in the outcome."

In reflecting on his nearly four-year stay here, Hamdoon said he had seen no particular "high points or low points" in U.S.-Iraqi relations during that period. "I believe that our relations have grown steadily, sometimes slowly but really very surely," he said.

On the impact of revelations about secret U.S. arms shipments to Iran, the ambassador said he had been "stunned" by them at first. But subsequently, the American reaction to the Iran-contra affair had "helped us a lot" to get the Iraqi viewpoint on the war across in Washington, he said.

"In the sense, it was a matter of taking advantage of the situation," he said.

He said Iraq has "hope" of obtaining arms from the United States but that it had not asked for any formally and "nobody has offered" any.

Hamdoon also said a trade agreement signed here Wednesday between Iraq and the United States should provide a better basis for improved economic relations and more opportunities for Americans to do business in Iraq.