Prime Minister Menachem Begin has made a number of public statements about Israel's raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor last week. While the alleged necessity of making the attack remains a subject of controversy, at least six of Begin's specific claims have turned out erroneous or misleading or have been disputed by French or U.S. officials.
That Iraq has refused to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the reactor. In fact, Iraq refused to permit inspections immediately after the outbreak of the Iraqi-Iranian war, but the agency's inspectors have been there since, most recently in January, and another inspection was scheduled for this month.
That a Baghdad newspaper, Al Thawra, quoted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein last October as saying Iran had nothing to fear from the nuclear reactor because it was intended for use against Israel. The prime minister's office and the Foreign Ministry, responding to reporters' inquiries, have admitted the quote never existed.
That the Israeli planes destroyed a secret underground chanber 40 meters, or about 131 feet, below the reactor, which Begin said was built to avoid detection by the agency's inspectors. Later, Begin said he erred and that the chamber was only 4 meters, just over 13 feet, underground. French nuclear experts have said no such chamber exists for making bombs.
That U.S. intelligence officials informed Israel that Iraq was preparing to build a nuclear bomb soon. Israel's chief of military intelligence confirmed today that no such information was conveyed to Israel by the United States.
That the Iraqi reactor would become critical, or "hot" in early July or early September at the latest, meaning that Israel could not postpone bombing it for fear of scattering radioactivity. French nuclear experts say it would not have become critical until the end of the year.
That U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger "emphatically demanded" cutting off economic and military aid to Israel because of the bombing. Weinberger denied making such a recommendation. Other Reagan administration officials said a cutoff of aid was one contingency among five listed in an options memorandum sent to the National Security Council by the Pentagon.