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Saddam Vows to Fight Anywhere in World If Attacked - 2003-03-16

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has vowed to fight any aggressor anywhere in the world, and declares Iraqi troops would be victorious. His remarks came in response to a warning from President Bush and the leaders of Britain and Spain that the time for diplomacy is nearly at an end.

Saddam Hussein is warning that any "aggressor" should realize that the battle will be waged, in his words, "wherever there is sky, earth and water anywhere in the world."

The Iraqi president made his comments to senior aides. They were broadcast on Iraqi television Sunday. He asked who appointed America, what he called, the "unjust judge of the world?"

The Iraqi leader's comments came as the leaders of the United States, Britain and Spain warned that Monday will be the final day of diplomacy in an effort to resolve the Iraqi crisis.

Saddam Hussein accused the United States and Britain of lying regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and said, given more time and appropriate equipment, Iraq would build the weapons it is accused of possessing and then invite weapons inspectors to come and destroy them.

He charged that, while Iraq is destroying its al-Samoud Two missiles, Israel is producing, in his words, "all kinds of weapons."

He said Iraq would be victorious in any confrontation with the United States because, he said, they are on the side of falsehood "while Iraq is on the side of righteousness."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Sunday Iraq has been preparing for war for more than a year and is ready for military confrontation, as he put it, "as if war is happening in an hour." He said, "whoever enters Iraq should not expect to leave it safe."

Iraqi officials have dismissed the idea of Saddam Hussein voluntarily leaving power. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday Iraq could avert war if its leader and his regime resigned. Senior officials with the Arab League, the Lebanese prime minister's office, the Egyptian foreign minister's office and Saudi Arabian officials have told VOA they do not expect that Saddam Hussein will voluntarily step down.