BAGHDAD, Iraq – With a deadline for war failing to pick up support, Iraq destroyed more Al Samoud 2 missiles Tuesday in an effort to cement divisions on the U.N. Security Council and warned that any invaders will find their deaths here.
"The tyrants of the evil American administration ... will meet their black fate at the high gates of Baghdad, where the courageous people of Iraq will teach them a lesson," the government daily Al-Jumhuriya said in an editorial Tuesday.
Hiro Ueki, a spokesman for the U.N. weapons inspectors, said Iraq was destroying more of the red-and-white missiles Tuesday, but it was unclear how many. Since March 1, Iraq has crushed about half its arsenal -- 52 of about 100 missiles.
Iraq's Information Ministry said inspectors went to the al-Taji military compound, where the missiles are being crushed with bulldozers, but didn't give details. Other inspection teams went to a Baghdad factory that makes batteries and an aviation office in northern Mosul, it said.
More sandbag-reinforced foxholes cropped up on Baghdad streets, and residents dug wells and trenches in their yards. Prices for basic goods like powdered milk, sugar and cooking oil rose sharply as Iraqis stocked up on basic supplies.
The United States and Britain delayed a Security Council vote on whether to give Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to disarm or face war when it became clear the proposal would almost certainly be rejected.
They signaled they might be willing to compromise to win support from Security Council members reluctant to rush to war. Permanent members France and Russia have threatened to vote against the current version of the resolution, arguing that accelerated disarmament by Iraq was a reason for inspections to continue.
Council members agreed to hold another open meeting on the Iraq crisis Tuesday and Wednesday at the request of the Non-Aligned Movement, which represents 115 mainly developing countries. Diplomats said a vote would likely come Thursday at the earliest.
If the resolution is defeated, the U.S. and British governments have said they would be prepared to go to war anyway, with the help of a handful of other nations.
Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, said Monday that the Americans and British were miscalculating their chances of success, and that invading forces "are not going to take Iraq easily."
"They want us to surrender to them before the war," he said. "We shall not surrender at all, and when they fight ... we will fight them -- courageously and effectively -- and they will fail. They will fail."
A delegation of Arab foreign ministers was heading to Baghdad this week on an "urgent and critical" trip in an attempt to avert war and urge Iraq to increase cooperation with the weapons inspectors.
They were bearing a message from top U.N. nuclear inspector Mohammed ElBaradei, who told the Saudi-owned newspaper Al Hayat that he was proposing to Saddam "an essential change in spirit and essence."
"If Iraq, during the coming week or the next two weeks, failed to present absolute evidence that it does not possess (banned) weapons, we will walk the path of war," he was quoted as saying. "The next two weeks will be decisive, and the ball is still in the Iraqi court."