BAGHDAD, Iraq – Saddam Hussein said Wednesday that Iraq doesn't want war with the United States, but peace cannot be kept at the expense of "our independence, our dignity" and freedom.
Speaking to a visiting delegation of Russian lawmakers, including Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, the Iraqi president said that if the United States carries out its threat to attack, Iraq will "triumph over it, God willing."
"Iraq doesn't want war," Saddam said. But he added that peace "at any cost" was unacceptable. "We will not relinquish our independence, our dignity and our right to live and act freely."
Saddam spoke as President Bush again urged the United Nations to threaten force to disarm Iraq. U.N. weapons inspectors, meanwhile, visited five sites involved in the manufacture of a missile that chief inspector Hans Blix said is proscribed.
Blix is likely to order the destruction of Iraq's Al Samoud 2 missiles because experts said they exceed the maximum 93-mile range allowed under U.N. resolutions, U.N. sources and diplomats said on condition of anonymity on Wednesday. Blix is expected to send a letter to Iraq in the coming days with his decisions.
Bush, who is facing growing international opposition to a war, criticized the United Nations for not forcing a resolution adopted after the 1991 Gulf War ordering Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction.
"If the United Nations can't enforce its own resolution -- a resolution which, by the way, has been around for 12 years -- it says something about its utility as we head into the future," he said.
Huge anti-war demonstrations around the world as well as opposition by many U.S. allies have delayed U.S. and British plans to introduce a new Security Council resolution finding Iraq in violation of U.N. orders.
On Wednesday, however, Britain's U.N. ambassador said his government will probably introduce a new draft resolution within days that will contain a deadline for Baghdad to show it is actively cooperating with weapons inspections.
Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock told The Associated Press that he expected debate on the text to extend past March 1, when Blix is to issue his next report.
Meanwhile, Britain urged its citizens to leave Iraq immediately, citing the risk of "terrorist action" and of being taken hostage by the Iraqi government.
"If you are considering going to Iraq, you should be aware that British nationals were used as hostages during the 1990-91 crisis by the Iraqi regime, being held where their safety was at most risk," the advisory said Wednesday.
The Foreign Office also urged Britons in Kuwait, the main springboard for a possible invasion of Iraq, to leave unless it was absolutely necessary for them to remain. It also increased travel warnings for Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Humanitarian agencies have warned that war could bring great suffering to the Iraqi people by disrupting supplies of food, medicine and drinking water.
However, Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh told reporters that authorities have distributed six months' worth of food rations to Iraqi families so they can prepare for a long war.
U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq in November after a four-year gap under a new, tougher Security Council resolution. The inspectors are trying to verify Iraq's claims that it no longer holds banned weapons.
On Feb. 14, chief inspector Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear control agency, told the Security Council that they detected some improvement in cooperation on the part of Saddam's government. But Blix also said inspectors found that Iraq's Al Samoud 2 missile exceeded the permitted range of 94 miles and chastised Iraq for not giving a full accounting of chemical and biological weapons programs.
On Wednesday, inspectors visited the al-Fida company, which is involved in the maintenance of Al Samoud launchers, the Ibn al-Haytham company, which manufactures and assembles Al Samouds, and a factory that makes the rocket's components, U.N. spokesman Hiro Ueki said.
They also went to the al-Mamoun factory, which manufactures solid-propellent rocket motors, and a "location" where Al Samoud components are deployed, Ueki said.
Also Wednesday, U.S.-British coalition warplanes patrolling the southern "no-fly" zone attacked an Iraqi mobile air defense radar and a mobile multiple-rocket system, the U.S. military said. The targets were near Basra, approximately 250 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Two no-fly zones were declared after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Iraq's Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north from Saddam's forces.