Saddam says Iraq is ready for war with US


Saddam Hussein said today Iraq was ready to face up to any US military campaign, as US President George W Bush stepped up pressure for a tough new UN resolution on disarmament.

"We are preparing ourselves as if war were to take place in one hour. We are psychologically ready," Saddam told Egyptian weekly Elosboain a rare interview, published on its www.elosboa.comwebsite.

"We are thus prepared for war," Saddam said, warning the United States that "Iraq will never be like Afghanistan".

"That is not to say that we are stronger than the United States, which has fleets and long-range missiles. But we have our faith in God, the homeland and the Iraqi people as well as the Arab people."

A war "will never be a cakewalk for US and British soldiers," the Iraqi strongman warned in the interview, held in one of his Baghdad palaces.

At a campaign rally in Atlanta, Georgia yesterday, Mr Bush stepped up pressure for a new British-supported UN resolution that would set tough new conditions for starting UN weapons inspections in Iraq.

France, Russia and China, the remaining permanent council members that have veto power, oppose the text because of "hidden triggers" for the automatic use of military force against Iraq.

"The message to this august body is to be effective," Mr Bush said, remaining tight-lipped on a deadline for any resolution.

"Be the United Nations, not the League of Nations," he said referring to the failure of the previous world body to bring about peace in the aftermath of World War I.

Earlier yesterday, France "categorically" denied a report by the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsatnewspaper that a French envoy had been shuttling to Baghdad for months in a bid to remove any pretext for US-led military action to oust Saddam.