Operation Opera Perlmutter, p. 172. also known as Operation Babylon,Amos Perlmutter, Michael I. Handel, Uri Bar-Joseph. Two Minutes over Baghdad. Routledge (2nd ed.), 2008. p. 120. was a surprise Israeli air strike carried out on 7 June 1981, which destroyed an Iraqi nuclear r...
Operation Opera: an Ambiguous Success
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Journal of Strategic Security, ISSN: 1944-0464, Vol: 3, Issue: 4, Page: 49-62
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- International relations, International security, Iraq, Israel, Military affairs, Nuclear weapons and nonproliferation
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To assess the efficacy of Israel's strike on Osirak, one must determine Israel's strategic objectives and their material effects on Iraqi capabilities. The capacity of the facilities to produce fissionable material without detection remains in dispute. So, too, does the timeline—and therefore the imminence—of Iraqi acquisition of a nuclear option. The political cost-benefit equation in this case requires a fair dose of subjective judgment. How much did the Israelis delay the program? How much did Iraqi motivation increase post facto? Is military counter-proliferation a viable strategy? Was the potential Iraqi bomb worth risking a bold, unprovoked attack that inevitably drew the condemnation of the world? Did the raid, in toto, raise or lower the risk of regional proliferation in the Middle East? All of these considerations must factor into an informed opinion on the retrospective wisdom of Begin's decision.