UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says Iraq's destruction of its banned al-Samoud missiles is a "positive development".
Mr. Annan, speaking Tuesday at the United Nations in New York, said it is up to the UN Security Council to decide if Iraq's destruction of the missiles will avoid war. The top UN weapons inspectors are set to report to the Security Council on Friday.
Earlier Tuesday, China said it welcomes Iraq's destruction of the banned missiles, and urged continued UN-based efforts to avoid war.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told reporters in Beijing that Baghdad should continue to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors, and said China hopes the Iraq crisis can be resolved peacefully.
Iraq said Tuesday it was destroying more banned al-Samoud Two missiles, as ordered by the United Nations. Baghdad has already completed the destruction of 16 of the missiles since Saturday.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein -- in a defiant message -- proclaimed that the Iraqi people will emerge victorious in the face of aggression.
In a statement read on television to mark the Islamic New Year, the Iraqi leader said that, armed with faith, Iraqis would conquer what he called "tyrants" -- a clear reference to the United States and its threat to disarm Iraq by force, if necessary.
In Washington Monday, the Bush administration made clear its intention to remove Iraq's leader from power if the United States launches military action to disarm Baghdad.
A White House spokesman also dismissed as "deceptions" recent steps -- including the destruction of missiles -- taken by Iraq to show cooperation with the inspections process.