Iraqi warplanes twice bombed an unfinished nuclear power plant...


MANAMA, Bahrain -- Iraqi warplanes twice bombed an unfinished nuclear power plant on Iran's Persian Gulf coast Tuesday, killing 10 workers, including a West German engineer, and wounding seven others, Iran reported.

The Iraqi jets swept over the waters of the gulf and attacked the West German-built facility in Bushehr on Iran's northern Persian Gulf coast at 11:45 a.m., Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. They struck again at 5 p.m., it said.


Construction on the two-reactor facility ceased with the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in September 1980 and it was producing no power at the time of the attack. Iran said the plant was damaged in the attack but no escape of radiation was reported.

Iran condemned the attack as a blatant violation of international law.

Iraqi military officials described the target of the attack as a petrochemical complex and said warplanes fired several missiles into the facility, setting it on fire, the Iraqi News Agency reported.


Late Tuesday Iraqi officials confirmed a second strike on the plant. President Saddam Hussein sent a message of congratulations to the air force commanders for the successful strike.

IRNA reported 10 civilian employees were killed and seven wounded, two critically. Among the dead was a West German, identified by IRNA as Jurgen Friedrichs, an engineer from the West German construction company T.U.V.

Iran said the attack on the plant in Bushehr was at least the third carried out by Iraq on the facility. IRNA said Iraqi planes last attacked the plant on March 24, 1985, and hit it previously on April 13, 1984.

Iran has asked the West German construction firm that was building the facility to resume work on it, but the company, Kraftwerk Union, has said it will resume work only when the war ends.

Iraq said its warplanes hit other Iranian facilities Tuesday about 2:30 p.m., attacking Hawk anti-aircraft batteries protecting Iran's main offshore oil-loading terminal at Kharg Island.

Iran made no report of the attack, but said an Iraqi warplane was shot down over the gulf.

Iran warned of air raids on 'military and economic centers throughout Iraq' with the exception of four holy cities and called on Iraqis living near the targets to flee, IRNA said.


Iraqi military officials, meanwhile, said in Baghdad that Iraqi forces repulsed one of the first major offensives launched in the war in several months. It was not clear where the offensive took place alng the battlefront.

The Iraqi High Military command estimated three Iranian infantry battalions attacked Iraqi positions, but said they were beaten back and suffered heavy losses, state Baghdad radio reported.

'Large numbers of enemy corpses are still littering the valleys in the area,' the command said. 'The bulk of the Iranian force were killed.'

There was no word on the offensive from Tehran.

Iran was expected to launch a winter offensive in southern Iraq soon in a bid to capture Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. An Iranian offensive against Basra this year failed and left tens of thousands killed and wounded.

At sea, the Bridgeton -- the re-flagged Kuwaiti tanker that struck an Iranian-sown mine in the Persian Gulf July 24 -- left the region on the tail of the 18th convoy of U.S.-escorted tankers.

The American-escorted convoy steamed safely through the Strait of Hormuz at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, said Maj. John Meyer, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in Manama.

Besides the Bridgeton, the convoy included the tankers Surf City, Chesapeake City, the U.S.-owned and -operated SS Glacier Bay and the military-chartered oiler Matthiesen. Escorting the vessels were the USS Thatch and USS Carr, both guided missile frigates.


The United States has placed 11 Kuwaiti tankers under U.S. registry and American naval protection in the gulf in a bid to shield the vessels and the flow of oil from the cross fire of the 7-year-old Iran-Iraq war.

The Bridgeton steamed through the Strait of Hormuz under heavy U.S. escort, according to reporters who viewed the convoy from a helicopter. It had been anchored off the United Arab Emirates, where it underwent repairs at a dry dock.

Two navy vessels circled the Bridgeton during its journey and a U.S. mine sweeper searched for mines off the bow of the 401,000-ton supertanker, the reporters said.

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