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Israel Backers in Congress Support ‘cuban Analogy’ in Supporting Reactor Raid

June 11, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Congressional supporters of Israel are stressing the “Cuban analogy” in arguing that Israel did not violate United States law in using American-made weapons to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor Sunday.

This argument maintained that Israel’s action was no different than what the U.S. threatened to do in 1962 when Cuba was installing Soviet made missiles with nuclear warheads. But when this analogy was offered to the State Department spokesman Dean Fischer today he replied, “I don’t want to make any comparisons.”

Meanwhile Fischer maintained that “no decision of any kind has been made” on whether the U.S. will take any action against Israel to follow up its condemnation of Sunday’s raid. He said this included whether to hold up delivery of the four F-16’s scheduled to be sent to Israel Friday.

Israel used eight F-16s escorted by six F-15s to bomb the nuclear plant. It was at first reported here that Israel had used the older Phantom F-4s for the mission.

President Reagan has held two meetings of the National Security Council on the Israeli bombing, one last night and the other this morning. Secretary of State Alexander Haig was scheduled to leave for Asia tonight and it is possible, according to Fischer, that a decision on U.S. action may not be made until he returns.


In fact, Fischer said, the only decision that has been made is to send to Congress a report on whether Israel violated U.S. law in using American-made equipment on the raid. He said the report will go to Congress late today or tomorrow.

The Arms Export Control Act, according to Fischer, “requires the President to report promptly to the Congress on the receipt of information that a substantial violation of the agreement under which the defense articles have been sold to a foreign government may have occurred.” This is all the law requires, Fischer said.

The “Cuban analogy” has been stressed by Senate Minority Whip Alan Cranston (D. Calif.) who declared yesterday that the Israeli action was “inevitable” and said that he had long warned of the danger of the Iraqi reactor.

In an article in the New York Times today, Cranston, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Israel felt a danger that was “similar” to that faced by the Kennedy administration when “a hostile unstable country near our border–Cuba — was developing, with Soviet aid, a nuclear strike capability.”

An even stronger statement was made on the house floor today by Rep. Tom Lantos (D. Calif.)

who said, “Israel did exactly what we would do in our part of the world” if an unfriendly neighboring country posed a nuclear threat to the U.S.

Lantos, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted that all Americans supported President Kennedy when he planned a preemptive strike to take out the missiles with nuclear warheads in Cuba. He said that there would be support for Reagan if he threatened to take similar action if he faced the same threat from Cuba today. Lantos added that Israel provided a “vital lesson” for all democratic countries and should be “applauded” for its actions instead of being criticized by many in Washington.

Support for Israel also came today from Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D. Ohio), who said that Israel had hard choices but “what Israel did may have been the most responsible action of all.” He said that Israel had to confront the prospect of an Iraqi nuclear bomb. No other country was willing to do more than make protests. “Had Israel waited till the plant was operational,” Metzenbaum noted,” she would have had two alternatives — either to sit back helplessly while Iraq built the bomb or to attack the facility and risk inflicting untold deaths and suffering by the radioactive contamination of Iraq’s most heavily populated areas.”


Rep. Jonathan Bingham (D. N.Y.) said there would not have been the need for a preemptive strike by Israel “had the world community acted responsibly earlier to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, usable technology and materials. Instead the United States and its allies have made half hearted efforts at nuclear restraint, put far too much faith in international safeguards, and totally ignored the military implications of these actions. Israel could not afford to ignore them ….”

Bingham, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for a non-proliferation policy with “teeth” to prevent the export of nuclear material that can be used in making weapons and which would improve the methods of guarding against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. At the State Department today, Fischer said that the Reagan Administration has been reviewing the U.S. policy on non-proliferation as part of its review of all of its foreign policy.

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