Tel Aviv (Aug. 26)
A preliminary assessment by the Tel Aviv University’s Institute for Strategic Studies of the Israeli raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor last June says the bombing may have won Israel three or four years breathing space, but the nuclear threat can only be removed by achieving peace.
Written by the Institute’s Dr. Shai Feldman, it discounts as unreasonable Premier Menachem Begin’s “ambitious doctrine — under no circumstances would we allow the enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our nation,” but adds that the precious time gained by the reactor’s destruction provides strategic justification for the raid.
The study points out that Iraq’s nuclear buildup would have provided it with a primitive nuclear capability by 1985 and a deliverable force by the end of the decade.
It says: “Although the Israeli government’s doctrine of indefinitely preventing or preempting Arab/Islamic nuclear programs is not feasible, the timing of Iraq’s nuclear program was particularly dangerous for Israel, and the time gained could provide an opportunity for altering or mitigating some of the more dangerous aspects.”
According to Feldman, “If nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is inevitable, it is preferable that it occur after some of the central issues dividing Israel and the Arabs have been settled.” In the time gained, some Arab leaders may develop a greater awareness of the dangers and ramifications of the nuclear age and cease pursuing highly aggressive policies, he suggests.