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Political fallout from Israeli strike on Baghdad reactor spreads around the globe; Moscow uses raid as stick to beat US

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There's no mystery, Moscow says, in Israel's bomb attack on an Iraqi nuclear facility: The Americans did it; or, more precisely, they must bear ultimate responsibility as israel's superpower ally no matter how vehemently they condemn the attack for the record.

The Israeli air strike is the latest element in a Soviet- American battle for influence in the Middle East.

The bombing strike, provoking universal Arab condemnation, was seen by diplomats here as likely to hurt US stock in the region, at least in the short run. This, most assuredly, won't upset the Kremlin.

But the initial assessment of Moscow diplomats was that the controversy around the attack would not substantially boost Soviet influence in the region -- the Kremlin's gains would probably be limited to some easy propaganda points. In this area, the Soviets are dealing from strength. Even the most moderate of Arabs do not hide their resentment of what they often term Washington's "blind backing for Israel."

Israeli military moves tend to reinforce this resentment, hardly on encouraging prospect for a US administration seeking curbs against Soviet influence in the Arab world.

Within hours of Israel's June 8 announcement of the Baghdad air strike, the official Soviet news agency began highlighting foreign reports that US-made aircraft were involved in the attack. By late June 9, the agency directly implicated Washington in what it termed "undisguised and arrogant aggression against the sovereign state of Iraq."

The attack, Moscow said, "was taken not without Washington's sanction. . . . It is obvious that this latest act of international piracy has been backed by the present American administration," the news agency said.

A later dispatch quoted a US report as saying the attacking Israeli planes had flown over Saudi Arabia, and said it was "hard to believe" US radar planes based there had not detected the Israelis.


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