Iraq seeks Arab aid for A-work

Iraq hopes to secure pan-Arab backing for its nuclear program, in direct reaction to Israel's June 7 bombing of Iraqi nuclear facilities, Monitor contributor Helena Cobban reports. Officials in Baghdad said this was what it seeks from an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers.

The most important components of pan-Arab backing could be some indication from the Saudis that they would fund future stages of the Iraqi program, and some undertaking from the radical Libyan regime that it would coordinate its own nuclear plant with Iraq.

Previously the Saudis had preferred to place their nuclear bets on the program being developed by fellow conservatives in Pakistan, rather than that of the Iraqi Baathists. But the Saudi monarch is to make an urgent trip to Paris June 13, in what is seen as a clear gesture of support for the iraqi program, which uses mainly French technology.

The Libyans, meanwhile, have kept their nuclear plant to themselves, and have clashed politically with the Iraqis throughout recent months.

The Iraqis now hope that such past Arab feuds may be forgotten.

The officials said that Iraq was very pleased with the level of Arab solidarity expressed after the Israeli air strike. They described Arab condemnation of the raid as "the most united Arab position to appear since President Sadat went to Jerusalem in 1977."

"But now we have to turn that into a concrete policy to confront the Israe lis," they added.

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