- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 6 (UPI) — Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Monday said U.N. inspectors searching for Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction were carrying out "pure intelligence actions."

In a speech marking the 82nd anniversary of the Iraqi army, Saddam accused the United States of making U.N. inspection teams go beyond the declared objectives of the U.N. Security Council.

He said instead of searching for alleged weapons of mass destruction in order to expose U.S. and British "distortion and lies," the international inspectors "are interested in collecting names and making lists of Iraqi scientists, addressing employees with questions that carry hidden agendas, giving special attention to military camps, to non-banned military production, and to other matters."

He said "all or most" of the inspection operations "constitute purely intelligence work."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "These are unfortunate remarks, the work of the inspectors needs to continue."

Saddam warned that Iraq was not the "only target" of the United States whose "objective is rather to subject the Arab Gulf area to a full, complete and physical occupation through which to achieve many goals."

He said the "goals" included political interference and military intervention "

with a view to securing complete control over (the region's) resource."

Saddam warned Washington that it "will pay dearly later, on top of what it is paying at present for its reckless policies of greed and expansionism."

Saddam accused the United States of diverting attention and covering up for Israel's "heinous crimes" against the Palestinian people.

Saddam said U.S. war preparations against Iraq were meant to "cover the weaknesses of its agencies as exposed" by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington as well as "the weakness, or indeed near-collapse, of the U.S. economy."

They were also to cover for Washington's policy failure regarding the Palestinian and Afghanistan problems which only generated "anger and hatred."

Saddam said the occupation of the Gulf and the Red Sea will enable the United States "to launch aggression and cause damage in any direction it chooses, including expanding its aggression against Iraq on the basis of strategic and tactical objectives."

He however stressed that the Iraqi people were prepared for "any further confrontation expected with the enemy.

"We are fully prepared for everything and for any eventuality. Our success is in the hands of Allah, and Allah shall repel the schemes of the infidels," he said. "We will no doubt emerge triumphant, because victory always belongs to those who stand by truth in their own home while defeat certainly belongs to their enemies. "

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