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Saturday, 23 February, 2002, 14:45 GMT
Saddam scorns Bush 'baby talk'
US President George W Bush and Iraqi counterpart Saddam Hussein
Best of enemies: Bush and Saddam Hussein
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has dismissed US accusations that Baghdad had or was seeking weapons of mass destruction as "baby talk".

He accused the US of bullying Iraq and said his country would stand firm against aggression.

Adopting a sarcastic note, he said US threats to topple his regime were at least more "civilised" than the attacks and patrols carried out by US and British warplanes across the no-fly zones imposed after the Gulf War.

Those who believe that Iraq, its army and its leadership, can be afraid, do not see the truth

Saddam Hussein

Last month US President George W Bush accused Iraq along with Iran and North Korea of making up a dangerous "axis of evil".

His administration is reported to have decided to force a change of regime in Baghdad.

Separately, North Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement calling the US president a "typical rogue and kingpin of terrorism".

It rejected Mr Bush's offer of talks - made again during his Asian tour - and dismissed him as a "politically backward child".

Mr Bush has demanded that Saddam Hussein allow checks by UN weapons inspectors, who left Baghdad in 1998 ahead of a US-led bombing campaign.

"They [the Americans] claim to be afraid that Iraq may possess weapons of mass destruction and may give them to terrorist organisations to threaten America," the Iraqi leader said.

"This is baby talk."

The Iraqi leader said the US was seeking to make itself feel secure by denying technology to the rest of the world.

"It is a selfish method... so we do not want to enter into discussions with them on a matter that we have dealt with for more than 11 years," he said, referring to UN sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.


Saddam Hussein said any US efforts to overthrow his regime would be more civilised than an outright bombing campaign which destroyed houses and killed civilians.

"We support that they tread this path... as it is a civilised slogan and better than bombing people and destroying their property," he said at a ceremony to mark the beginning of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein retains strong support from his military

Though it appears that Mr Bush has decided to try to topple the Iraqi regime, he is keeping quiet on when and how the US might act.

Senior Iraqi officers sent telegrams to their leader, saying: "We stand ready to face up to and subdue any enemy attack.

"The invaders will not tread on Iraqi soil," the officers warned in comments published by the Al-Qadissiya newspaper.

See also:

15 Feb 02 | Americas
US 'working to topple Saddam'
13 Feb 02 | Americas
Analysis: US to get tough on Iraq
06 Feb 02 | Americas
Analysis: The 'axis of evil' debate
17 Jan 02 | Americas
Bush warns Iraq over arms
19 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iraq
04 Jan 01 | Middle East
Saddam Hussein profile
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