Friday, May 11, 2007

Opinion (Richard M Bennett): A careful look before a US leap

Above: Aftermath of 'Operation Opera', the 1981 Israeli surprise attack on Iraq's nuclear facility at Osirak.

Despite all the military, political and moral doubts over the advisability or even the legality of a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear-research infrastructure, it is a strange twist of fate that a critically important precedent was established for just such a violent course of action 27 years ago. Significantly, this was not established by either the United States or Israel, but by Iran itself.

On September 30, 1980, two US-supplied F-4 Phantom fighters of the Iranian Islamic Air Force bombed the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak. This occurred soon after the Israeli chief of army intelligence had publicly urged the Islamic Republic to destroy Osirak to prevent any chance of Saddam Hussein obtaining nuclear weapons.

It was as a direct result of the failure of the Iranian attack that Israel initiated the planning of "Operation Opera", which would lead to the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak by 14 F-16 and F-15 fighters in the following year, on July 7, 1981.

Read the rest at Asia Times