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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 12:17 GMT
Iraq defiant over US threat
Iraqi children mark the anniversary of the Gulf War
Saddam Hussein said Iraq had gained from its experience
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said Baghdad is ready for another full-scale attack by America but would defeat any new military campaign.

In a speech marking the 11th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War, the Iraqi leader said Iraqis were more confident now than they were in 1991.

America is on the loose, and this will be fatal

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein's address came amid mounting speculation that Iraq could be targeted in America's global war against terrorism.

On Wednesday, US President George W Bush reiterated his demand that Baghdad allow UN weapons inspectors back in or face unspecified consequences.

Speaking on Iraqi television, Saddam Hussein said Iraq had survived the Gulf War and would survive another attack.

Iraq 'stronger'

He said Iraq had benefited from the experience of fighting the US-led coalition - which went to war after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 - and frequent attacks by US and British aircraft.

UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, November, 1998
Saddam accused UN arms teams of spying for the United States

"Will the performance of one who has sat an examination and passed it be higher and better, or lower and lesser?" the Iraqi leader asked.

US and British aircraft patrolling Iraq's No-Fly Zones, set up after the Gulf War, have sporadically bombed Iraqi defence sites after coming under threat of attack in recent years.

"After the course of aggression 11 years ago, backed up by a continuous aggression till this day, our people will not be taken by surprise," Saddam Hussein said.

He said America's response to the 11 September attacks was losing her the support of the international community and had left the US "sliding towards the abyss".

Bush ultimatum

President Bush has repeatedly hinted Iraq could be attacked as part of a wider war on terrorism and to thwart any Iraqi attempts to build biological, chemical or nuclear wepaons.

President Bush
Bush has hinted Iraq might be a target

Speaking on a visit to Turkey on Wednesday, Mr Bush said: "We want to know whether he's [Saddam] developing weapons of mass destruction. He claims he's not: Let the world in to see. And if he doesn't, we'll have to deal with that at the appropriate time."

Iraq has refused to allow UN weapons teams back into the country after expelling arms monitors in December, 1998.

See also:

17 Jan 02 | Americas
Bush warns Iraq over arms
08 Nov 01 | Middle East
Powell says Iraq may be next target
18 Dec 01 | Middle East
US builds support against Iraq
10 Dec 01 | Middle East
UN chief warns against Iraq attack
22 Nov 01 | Middle East
Iraq fears US military attacks
30 Oct 01 | Middle East
Iraq condemns US 'aggression'
28 Oct 01 | Middle East
Rumsfeld: Iraq may be target
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