Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin gestures as he replies to international condemnation of Israel's air strike against Iraq's nuclear reactor at a news conference in Jerusalem, June 9, 1981.
"Revisiting Osirak: Preventive Attacks and Nuclear Proliferation Risks"
Journal Article, International Security, volume 36, issue 1, pages 101-132
Author: Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, 2008–2010
Thirty years after the Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor in June 1981 the consequences for Iraq’s nuclear weapons program remain hotly debated. A new history of this program, based on several new Iraqi sources, yields a net assessment of the impact of the Israeli attack that differs from prevailing accounts. The attack had mixed effects: it triggered a covert nuclear weapons program that did not previously exist, while necessitating a more difficult and timeconsuming technical route to developing nuclear weapons. Notwithstanding gross inefficiencies in the ensuing program, a decade later Iraq stood on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability. This case suggests that preventive attacks can increase the long-term proliferation risk posed by the targeted state.
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