Shared September 4, 2014
Operation Opera (Hebrew: אופרה), also known as Operation Babylon, was a surprise Israeli air strike carried out on 7 June 1981, that destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. This operation was after Iran's Operation Scorch Sword that damaged this nuclear facility months before.
In 1976, Iraq purchased an "Osiris"-class nuclear reactor from France. While Iraq and France maintained that the reactor, named Osirak by the French, was intended for peaceful scientific research, the Israelis viewed the reactor with suspicion, and said that it was designed to make nuclear weapons. On 7 June 1981, a flight of Israeli Air Force F-16A fighter aircraft, with an escort of F-15As, bombed and heavily damaged the Osirak reactor. Israel claimed it acted in self-defense, and that the reactor had "less than a month to go" before "it might have become critical." Ten Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian were killed. The attack took place about three weeks before the elections for the Knesset.
The attack was strongly criticized around the world and Israel was rebuked by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly in two separate resolutions. The destruction of Osirak has been cited as an example of a preventive strike in contemporary scholarship on international law.
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