Baghdad foresees 'uncontrollable fire' if US persists with attack


IRAQ: President Bush risks setting the region on fire if he attacks Iraq, Iraqi satellite television warned yesterday after Mr Bush said US action was "unavoidable" unless Baghdad disarms.

"An aggression [against Iraq\] would start an uncontrollable fire, and the United States, too, will pay a price because Iraq is no easy prey as the American adventurers imagine," it said in a commentary on Mr Bush's address to the UN General Assembly.

Iraq earlier yesterday warned the US that it was ready to repel any invasion with every weapon at its disposal, even kitchen knives, sticks and stones.

The Foreign Minister, Mr Naji Sabri, said Iraq still hoped to avoid any attack.

"But if we are attacked, we will choose our own means by using everything at our disposal, even sticks, kitchen knives, our hands and stones," he told Reuters in an interview.

"We shall never let those Zionists invade our country."

Saying that President Bush's speech smacked of "ignorance", the later TV commentary said the US leader's "foolish behaviour" and his "evil inclination to wage war under the banner of fighting terrorism" betrayed a sense of irresponsibility about the possible consequences of his actions.

The "adventure" Bush proposed to engage in by attacking Iraq would endanger security and stability, not just in the Middle East but in the whole world, because an armed conflict would also affect those who had "links and often strategic interests" in the region, it said.

UN arms inspectors, who began work in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, left the country in December 1998 ahead of a US-British campaign to punish Baghdad for its alleged failure to co-operate with them.

Mr Sabri said Iraq was ready to accept weapons inspections in line with UN resolutions, an apparent restatement of Iraq's position that a return of the inspectors must be part of a comprehensive solution that includes lifting of sanctions imposed for Iraq's occupation of Kuwait in 1990.

"We look to the return of inspectors within the Security Council's resolutions, and if the return is done in accordance with these resolutions and to serve the purpose of the United Nations, we have no problem with that," Mr Sabri said.

- (Reuters)