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Defense Secretary Praises Israel for Destroying Iraqi Nuclear Plant

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Defense Secretary Dick Cheney praised Israel this week for having bombed Iraq’s planned Osirak nuclear reactor a decade ago.

Cheney’s praise comes a few weeks after he criticized Israel for having sent surveillance planes into western Iraq last month to search for Scud missile launchers.

At the annual dinner Monday of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Cheney received loud applause when he thanked an Israeli defense official for the “bold action” Israel took in 1981 “with respect to the Baghdad reactor.”

The official, David Ivri, director general of Israel’s Defense Ministry, was in Washington for the annual bilateral meetings to discuss foreign aid and military cooperation.

“No country can be expected to take risks for peace unless it is confident about its security,” Cheney said, referring to this week’s Middle East peace conference in Spain.

But earlier this month in New York, Cheney said the Israeli surveillance flights over Iraq were “not helpful,” especially since they came at a “delicate moment, when so much is at stake” in the Middle East.

Cheney was speaking then at a news conference before receiving the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s annual award.

On Monday night, the defense secretary received JINSA’s Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award, named for the late Democratic senator from Washington who was a strong supporter of Israel.

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