JERUSALEM — Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, indirectly criticizing the Reagan Administration, suggested today that Iraq tricked the West into sending warships to the Persian Gulf by attacking Iran's oil industry until the Iranians struck back at neutral shipping.
He said U.S. and European involvement could increase the danger, with unpredictable results.
"No doubt, for the Iraqis, it is a tremendous achievement to drag the others to be involved," Rabin told reporters at a Foreign Press Assn. luncheon. "It carries with it a potential escalation, and I would not dare to think in which direction it will go."
The Iraqis "realized that just by fighting they are not going to win the war," he said. "Therefore, they started to attack the main source of Iran's national revenue, oil. They hoped either to reduce the shipment of oil outside Iran or bring Iran to react against the flow of oil from the other (Arab) side of (the) gulf, which is what really happened."
Raids on Oil Terminals
Iran and Iraq went to war in September, 1980, and the "tanker war" began in earnest early in 1984.
Iraqi warplanes raided Iran's oil terminals in the northern Persian Gulf and tankers carrying Iranian oil. Iran initially struck back at neutral vessels in the southern gulf, but in the last year has attacked shipping and laid mines throughout the waterway.