Iraq called on the U.N. Security Council today to impose a total arms embargo on Israel for its "clear-cut act of premeditated aggression" in destroying the Iraqi nuclear plant outside Baghdad last Sunday.
Foreign Minister Saadoun Hammadi charged that the Israeli raid was a prelude to a "full-scale war to subjugate Arab countries and impose full Zionist domination over the whole Middle East."
He said it was "especially" the responsibility of the United States to ensure that Israel gets "no military material or technical cooperation and assistance which might encourage its policy of aggression."
Israeli representative Yehuda Blum responded by defending the raid as a legitimate act of preemptive self-defense, and renewing an Israeli proposal for negotiations to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons.
The U.N. debate came as the directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna condemned Israel for its raid, recommending that the Jewish state be denied technical assistance and be considered for suspension from the agency. [Details on Page A18.]
The Security Council meeting, called by Iraq, took place in a grim atmosphere in which Israel found itself even more isolated than usual. Washington has already signaled its intention to veto any sanctions, but it has not ruled out the vote for a resolution condemning Israel.
Hammadi, the first speaker, detailed at great length the history of Israel's nuclear program and maintained that the raid on Iraq was designed to hide Israel's own possession of nuclear weapons.
He insisted that Iraq's program is limited to the peaceful applications of atomic energy.
In light of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's threat to destroy the Osirak reactor complex again if it is rebuilt, Hammadi said, the 15-nation council "cannot limit itself to mere condemnations" of the Israeli raid.
He called upon it for a reaffirmation of the right of all nations to nuclear development and a demand that all of Israel's nuclear facilities be open to international inspection and safeguards.
The Iraqi speech was regarded by diplomats as restrained, in comparison with the normal flow of Arab rhetoric, and the demands were seen as the minimum that Iraq could articulate.
Israel's real objective, Hammadi concluded, was "to undermine the new Iraq and all it stands for -- but that target is indestructible."
The Israeli representative, responding to Iraq, called the raid "an elementary act of self-preservation, both morally and legally." Blum insisted Israel was exercising "its inherent right of self-defense" against a country which "declares itself to have been in a state of war with Israel since 1948." w
Blum cited arguments by several legal scholars to back his case that Israel acted legally, then said: "Arab states, including Iraq, seek to impose on Israel duties stemming from the international law of peace while simultaneously claiming for themselves the privileges of the international law of war."
Blum recalled that Israel had tried to halt the "threat of nuclear obliteration against" it by peaceful means, but "our efforts bore no fruit."
As a result, he said, "we were obliged to remove that mortal danger," and as a result, "the Middle East has become a safer place."
The Israeli representative contended that "several states in the Middle East and beyond are sleeping more easily today in the knowledge that [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein's nuclear arms potential has been smashed."
In addition to Iraq, other Arab speakers today included the foreign minister of Tunisia and the ambassadors of Algeria, Sudan and Jordan.
This diplomatic processional is expected to continue throughout next week, since more than 40 nations have already signified their desires to voice condemnation of the Israeli action.
"We are not going to get one word of support, and we know it," an Israeli diplomat admitted. Blum, in his speech, called it a "hypocritcal parade" shedding "crocodile tears."
The only real drama will come at the end of the process, when Iraq must decide whether its advantage lies in forcing an American veto of a resolution that calls for sanctions against Israel, or in winning the American vote with a strong condemnation that has no whiff of sanctions.
The latter course would isolate Israel completely, but there are strong pressures from Arab radicals to push the Americans into a public embrace of Israel.
The moderate Arabs have suggested the submission of two resolutions -- one designed to win Washington's vote, the other to produce a veto and fulfill the Arab League call for sanctions, promulgated at their meeting in Baghdad yesterday.
The League members scheduled a caucus Saturday morning to discuss their tactics. And Tuesday, they have convened a meeting of the Islamic Conference Organization, a bloc of 40 Moslem naitons, to win a formal endorsement from that group of their sancitons demand.