BAGHDAD - Iraq said on Sunday it had taken all measures to face a possible
U.S. military strike to topple President Saddam Hussein.
"Our leadership has prepared everything and our people are determined to resist all attempts against our country," said the speaker of parliament, Saadoun Hammadi.
"Our people's morale is high, our financial potential is good and we are quite certain we will be able to thwart the U.S. aggression," he told reporters after parliament met to discuss preparations for a U.S. military attack.
President Bush said this month Washington would use all tools at its disposal to topple Saddam. He has branded Iraq part of an "axis of evil" supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq has repeatedly denied the U.S. charges.
Baghdad also renewed a challenge to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday to produce evidence his government claims to possess about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam said this month that the United States and its allies would not be able to topple his government and Iraq's parliament has voted to back military preparations to repel any attack.
"We shall defend our country in our territory," Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri told CNN on Saturday.
He said Washington wanted U.N. weapons inspectors to return to Iraq "for the sole purpose of updating their military and intelligence information on Iraq to be used in any attack on the Iraqi population."
Iraq would only allow the return of inspectors if it was based on what he called a U.N. agenda, not a U.S. one, he said.
Resuming weapons inspections is key to suspending U.N. sanctions, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. It could also ward off a U.S. attack on Iraq.
After three rounds of talks with Sabri, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that until Baghdad indicated it was prepared to allow inspectors back in there would be no further talks at his level.
Arms experts have been barred from Iraq since December 1998 when the United States and Britain launched a bombing campaign to punish Baghdad's alleged failure to cooperate with them.
An Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman repeated on Sunday an offer Iraq made last February to let in a team of British arms inspectors if Britain could say where any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were being produced.
"Blair is determined to avoid replying to an offer made by Iraq on February 28 to immediately receive a British mission sent by Blair himself to show how and where Iraq is attempting to produce such weapons," the Iraqi spokesman said.
"If the British prime minister wants to prove his claims, the offer still stands and we challenge him once again to produce any evidence," the spokesman added.
Blair said on Thursday that "Saddam is in breach of all the United Nations resolutions. Weapons of mass destruction is an issue but we have taken no decisions as how to deal with it."
© Reuters Limited 2002