News Release

Myth: Israel’s Strike on Iraqi Reactor Hindered Iraqi Nukes


Today, the Bush administration releases a major national security strategy document which reaffirms the U.S. policy of so-called “preemption” and depicts Iran and its nuclear program as major threats.

Many advocates of striking at Iran’s nuclear facilities cite Israel’s 1981 bombing of an Iraqi nuclear facility.

The following specialists are available for interviews:

Mallinckrodt research professor of physics at Harvard University, Wilson visited the Osirak Iraqi reactor in 1982 after it was bombed by Israel. He said today: “Many claim that the bombing of the Iraqi Osirak reactor delayed Iraq’s nuclear bomb program. But the Iraqi nuclear program before 1981 was peaceful, and the Osirak reactor was not only unsuited to making bombs but was under intensive safeguards. Certainly, Saddam Hussein would clearly have liked a nuclear bomb if he could have had one, but the issue is whether there were enough procedures for that reactor in place to prevent him from doing so and all the indications are that there were enough procedures.

“The Osirak reactor was destroyed in June 1981. It was not until early in July 1981 that Saddam Hussein personally released Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar from house arrest and asked him to start and head the clandestine nuclear bomb program. The destruction of Osirak did not stop an Iraqi nuclear bomb program but probably started it. Worse still, the Israelis were so pleased with themselves that it appears that neither they nor the CIA looked for and understood the real direction of the Iraqi nuclear bomb program.

“In the international discussions with Iran, this must be borne in mind. Bombing a peaceful program, rather than controlling it, is very dangerous. But, alas, this is not the lesson that many people, who have not studied the technical evidence, have gained.”
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Khadduri is author of the book Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions. He worked on the Iraq nuclear weapons program beginning in 1981 and left Iraq in the late 1990s. He said today: “I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program.” Before the invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167