Saddam: Anyone who attacks Iraq will fail

Anyone who attacks Iraq will die in ‘‘disgraceful failure,’’ President Saddam Hussein said in a televised speech today.

Anyone who attacks Iraq will die in ‘‘disgraceful failure,’’ President Saddam Hussein said in a televised speech today.

Speaking on the anniversary of the end of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, Saddam made no direct mention of the US and Britain’s demand that UN arms inspectors be allowed to return.

’’The forces of evil will carry their coffins on their backs to die in disgraceful failure,’’ he said.

The Baghdad government often refers to the ‘‘forces of evil’’ in relation to US and British air strikes in the no-fly zones over the north and south of the country.

Washington has warned Iraq of consequences if it does not allow the UN inspections to resume their work.

Iraqi diplomats have held three meetings with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan this year to discuss the issue and related topics.

’’The right way is that the Security Council should reply to the questions raised by Iraq and should honour its obligations under its own resolutions,’’ Saddam said.

He was referring to 19 questions given to Annan at a meeting in March, and to the council resolutions which say UN sanctions on Iraq can be lifted once it has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction and fulfilled other requirements.

Iraq has long said it has fulfilled these conditions and that the sanctions imposed since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait should be lifted.

Annan circulated the 19 questions, which deal with various Iraqi complaints, to the Security Council members, who have not replied.

Saddam was dressed in a dark grey suit and was standing in front of a white curtain and with a spread of white lilies on his desk.

Recent reports from Washington say the US government is gearing for an attack on Iraq to topple Saddam. US officials have not ruled out such a strike, but insist no decision has yet been made.

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