Osirak 25 years on

With the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme looming large the BBC recalls the pre-emptive strike 25-years ago this week by the Israeli Air Force on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.

At the time the successful attack was broadly condemned by the United Nations and the United States.

The Israelis remain convinced that they made the Middle East a safer place with the raid, which was designed to stop Iraq acquiring weapons of mass destruction. However, the Iraqis argue that its WMD programme didn’t get going until after the Osirak raid.

Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Jaffee for strategic studies in Tel Aviv believes that if Osirak had not been destroyed, Iraq could have acquired a nuclear weapon before the invasion of Kuwait.

“I am not sure that the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2003 war in Iraq, could have been launched if Saddam had got the bomb by that time.”

However, this time around with Iranian situation it’s a different world, according to Col Zeev Raz (Rtd), who led the Israeli attack.

“If it is not solved by diplomatic or economic means, an army has to go there like the Americans did in Iraq and destroy or check all those points. No airpower can solve this problem.”