Iraqi President Saddam Hussein struck a defiant note in his annual Army Day address on Sunday whenhe vowed to thwart any fresh military attacks by the United States.
"As your debased enemies failed in the past, so will any aggressor, if he lets himself be seduced into committing an evil act against your trust. He ... will be thwarted in his base aims," Saddam said in a speech carried by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA).
While admitting that the Iraqi army is standing "a glorious test," Saddam said "obstacles facing the march will be nothing but lessons that deepen faith and determination, increase resolution, and enlarge horizons for optimism and confidence in success."
Saddam praised the "proud, faithful and striving" army of Iraq, and expressed confidence that the army "will remain loyal to the interests of the people, jealous of the sovereignty and dignity of the homeland."
Saddam also blasted the "hateful" embargo imposed for Iraq's 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait.
The annual speech of the Iraqi strongman came amid widespread speculation that the U.S. may expand its war on terrorism from Afghanistan to Iraq.
U.S. President George W. Bush strongly hinted last November thatthe U.S. might target Iraq after Afghanistan by demanding Saddam toallow the United Nations arms inspectors back into the country or face the consequences.
Some U.S. officials have been clamoring for attacking Iraq for its suspected development of weapons of mass destruction in the absence of U.N. arms inspectors.
U.N. weapons inspectors have been barred from re-entering Iraq since they withdrew from the country before U.S.-British military strikes against Iraq in December 1998.
Saddam has remained adamant in the face of the latest U.S. threats and vowed to reject the resumption of international arms inspections.
In a telegram to Saddam on the eve of the Army Day, Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed vowed to defend Iraq from any possible attacks. "We are confident in our capabilities to confrontwhoever dream to harm our country," Ahmed said.