Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

‘iraq’s Open Call’ for Nuclear Weapons ‘confirms’ Israel’s Fears

June 25, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Rabbi William Berkowitz, president of the Jewish National Fund, said today that “Iraq’s open call” for Arab nuclear weapons “confirms Israel’s fears that the Baghdad regime was building an atomic bomb for use against the Jewish state and further justifies Israel’s action in destroying the reactor at Osirak.”

Rabbi Berkowitz, speaking to JNF leaders at a reception honoring Paul Kedar, Israel’s Consul-General in New York, who is returning home, cited an address by President Saddam Hussein of Iraq broadcast by Baghdad radio yesterday.

In it, Saddam Hussein asked “all peace-loving nations in the world” to help Arabs acquire atomic arms to balance what he described as Israel’s nuclear capability. The Iraqi president added, “No power can stop Iraq from acquiring technological and scientific know how to serve its national objectives.”

Commenting, Rabbi Berkowitz said: “Iraq has made no secret of those ‘national objectives.’ They are nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state, with which Iraq has been at war since 1948 and whose very legitimacy Iraq refuses to acknowledge.”

The JNF leader quoted from a speech by Saddam Hussein last August threatening to boycott any state that continued to keep its embassy in Jerusalem and adding: “A better decision would be to destroy Tel Aviv with bombs. But we have to use the weapons available until it is actually possible to respond to the enemy with bombs. The other Arab brothers can help us in this respect.”

Rabbi Berkowitz told the JNF leaders: “Saddam Hussein has made no secret of his determination to acquire nuclear weapons for the purpose of attacking Israel. When he announced that Tel Aviv was the eventual target of Iraqi bombs, he was already acquiring the nuclear technology and materials necessary to produce atomic bombs, a process made possible by the impotence of the so-called inspection procedures called for by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.”

“Israel was justified in removing this awesome threat to its existence. Now Saddam Hussein uses the Israeli raid as justification for his production of nuclear weaponry, giving the lie to his earlier claims that Iraq has not engaged in such development,” Rabbi Berkowitz said.

Recommended from JTA