Iraq was the only Arab participant in the 1948 war that did not sign an armistice agreement with Israel and for decades it was the vanguard of the Arab coalition against Israel. In 1981, Israel became convinced Iraq was approaching the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. A nuclear weapon in the hands of Iraq under Saddam Hussein was perceived by Israel as a threat to its existence. To preempt the building of a weapon that would undoubtedly be directed against them, the Israelis launched a surprise attack on June 7 destroying the Osirak nuclear reactor, and for some years, Iraq’s embryonic nuclear capability. The initial world reaction was widespread condemnation of Israel and it was only in the context of the Gulf War in 1990-1 that the major western powers changed their public stance on Israel’s 1981 destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor (1).

(1) Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, A Study of Crisis, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997:293.



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26 Apr 2015 / 7 Iyar 5775 0