BAGHDAD, IRAQ, FEB. 4 -- A senior Iraqi official said today that his government sought elaborate "economic and security" guarantees for a proposed crude oil pipeline that would have passed close to Israel, but the official denied that Iraq had any direct contacts with Israeli officials during the negotiations.

The official, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Nizar Hamdoon, who served as Iraq's ambassador to Washington during the negotiations and participated in many of the sessions, said in an interview here that the commercial parties in the aborted pipeline project, led by the U.S.-based Bechtel Group Inc., were charged with securing guarantees that Israel would not attack the pipeline.

He said he had no knowledge of any contacts with Israeli officials or intermediaries representing the Israeli government.

"That was their problem," Hamdoon said, referring to the commercial partners in the project.

Hamdoon's account conflicted with reports from Jerusalem in which Israeli sources said that Shimon Peres, then Israel's prime minister, and Hamdoon exchanged letters concerning the pipeline while Hamdoon was serving in Washington.

Information about Israeli involvement in the proposed $1 billion pipeline deal has emerged as a result of an independent counsel's investigation.

Iraq's role is incidental to the central thrust of the probe, which seeks to determine whether Attorney General Edwin Meese III knew of an alleged suggestion to bribe officials of Israel's Labor Party, of which Foreign Minister Peres is the leader, as a means of ensuring Israel's cooperation on the project.

Meese has said that he received no "impression of illegality whatsoever" from a memo written to him by his close friend, E. Bob Wallach, which allegedly mentioned the possibility of bribes to Peres' party.

Israeli officials have strongly denied that bribes were ever mentioned or offered.

Peres denied that he was involved in negotiations over the pipeline other than having written a letter to a U.S. official saying that he had no objections to the project.

The reports of contact between Iraqi and Israeli officials, nevertheless, suggest that a network of back-channel contacts between Israel and its declared enemies in the Arab world may once again have been at work.

Last year it was disclosed that Israel was heavily involved in a U.S. plan to send arms to Iran in an effort to help gain the release of U.S. hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.

Iraq has been in a state of declared war against Israel since Israel's creation in 1948.

The Iraqi government also provides financial and military support to the Palestine Liberation Organization, and earlier in this decade harbored the breakaway Abu Nidal terrorist group.

The pipeline negotiations in 1985 came at a time when Iraq was seeking alternative ways to export its petroleum after Syria, an ally of Iran, closed a major Iraqi pipeline that passed through its territory. After intense fighting early in the gulf war, Iranian attacks forced Iraq to close its main oil-loading facilities on the gulf.

By 1985, new routes had become crucial as Baghdad grew heavily dependent on oil revenues to finance its multibillion-dollar war effort against Iran and to provide foreign currency for almost all of its domestic import needs.

The 500-mile pipeline would have linked Iraq's northern oilfields at Kirkuk to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, where the oil would have been loaded on tankers for Iraq's customers.

The deal fell apart, at least in part, over obstacles Baghdad faced in obtaining specific financial guarantees from the United States and commercial firms in the event of an Israeli attack.

Iraq already had alternate plans to expand an oil pipeline through Turkey to the Mediterranean and another through Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea, both of which are now pumping and meeting all of Iraq's export needs.

Western sources here said Iraq had made clear in both public and private statements during the negotiations in 1985 its concern that Israel might bomb the pipeline at any time if it felt its national security interests threatened.

In 1981, Israel had bombed an uncompleted Iraqi nuclear reactor that was being built with French assistance.

"The Iraqis were quite up front" about their concerns when the pipeline was under consideration, one western official said.

The report last week from unnamed Israeli sources, indicating that Hamdoon may have exchanged letters with Israeli officials, appeared to have caught the Baghdad government by surprise and has prompted strong denials.

"Iraq was involved commercially with Bechtel," Hamdoon said. "There were no contacts with other governments. . . . The security requirements needed were not put in any political context."

He said his government's negotiating strategy was to obtain guarantees through the commercial parties such that "if the pipeline project was to be attacked or there was any stoppage, then Iraq would not pay {the construction debt or interest} during the period of the stoppage."

Hamdoon stressed that the negotiations were conducted jointly with Jordanian officials and Bechtel.

Jordan is known to have had extensive contacts with Israeli leaders relating to both economic and political issues.

The former Iraqi envoy to Washington said he was aware of Bechtel's efforts to obtain a commitment from the Overseas Private Investment Corp. in Washington that would have protected Iraq's investment in the pipeline.

Those negotiations, according to reports from Washington, dealt extensively with determining whether Israel would pledge parts of its future U.S. economic aid to indemnify the pipeline partners against damage to the project or interruption in the flow of oil that might be caused by an Israeli attack.

Hamdoon reiterated that there were "no letters, no notes" between himself or other Iraqi officials and Israel during the negotiations. "When the company {Bechtel} could not meet our requirements, we moved on to the other proposals, and we were no more interested."

Western sources said Iraqi officials were embarrassed and indignant about suggestions that Israel's motivation in insuring the safety of the pipeline was to preserve Iraq's fighting capacity against Iran, which also was receiving covert shipments of Israeli and American weapons at the time of the negotiations.

Iraq and its Arab supporters have resented Israel's attitude that the seven-year-old Persian Gulf war should continue as long as possible as a means of preventing either country from turning its military might against Israel.

Other western analysts here defended Iraq's strategy in the negotiations, saying that Iraqi officials made a shrewd strategic judgment to intertwine U.S. and Israeli financial interests in the pipeline project.

"The result they wanted was that any attack would be an exercise in shooting oneself in the foot," one western official said.

"The Iraqis don't trust the Israelis, and when they didn't get the guarantees they wanted, the deal fell apart," he said.

Iraq completed expansion of its 1 million barrel per day oil pipeline through Turkey in 1984 and completed another 500,000 barrel per day "loop" onto the same system last August.

By November 1985, a project to connect Iraq's southern oilfields to a Saudi Arabian line running to the Red Sea port of Yanbu increased Iraq's export capacity by another 350,000 barrels per day.

There are plans to boost the Saudi Arabian export route to carry 1.6 million barrels of Iraqi oil per day.

Iraq also exports large quantities of crude oil along truck routes through Turkey, and thousands of oil-laden tanker trucks clog the country's northern traffic arteries every month.

Oil analysts here say that, given the nearly catastrophic loss of oil export facilities that Iraq suffered in the early stages of the gulf war, the country has rebounded strongly over the last three years and has preserved its military capacity.