author={Dan Reiter},
  journal={The Nonproliferation Review},
  pages={355 - 371}
  • Dan Reiter
  • Published 1 July 2005
  • Political Science
  • The Nonproliferation Review
Advocates of the preventive use of force against emerging nuclear, biological, or chemical programs often look to the allegedly successful 1981 Israeli airstrike against Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osiraq. According to the conventional wisdom, this attack may have prevented Iraq from going nuclear before Operation Desert Storm in 1991. This article assesses the claim that the 1981 attack substantially delayed Iraqi acquisition of nuclear weapons, both by revisiting older debates and by… 

Revisiting Osirak: Preventive Attacks and Nuclear Proliferation Risks

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

Targeting Nuclear Programs in War and Peace: A Quantitative Empirical Analysis, 1941-2000

When do states attack or consider attacking nuclear infrastructure in nonnuclear weapons states? Despite the importance of this question, relatively little scholarly research has considered when and

Attacking the Atom: Does Bombing Nuclear Facilities Affect Proliferation?

Abstract What are the consequences of military strikes against nuclear facilities? In particular, do they ‘work’ by delaying the target states ability to build the bomb? This article addresses these

Saddam, Israel, and the Bomb: Nuclear Alarmism Justified?

Efforts to understand Saddam Hussein's strategic thought have long been hampered by the opacity and secrecy of the Baathist regime. Newly available, high-level Iraqi archival documentation

When Preventive War Threats Work for Nuclear Nonproliferation

  • M. Fuhrmann
  • Political Science
    The Washington Quarterly
  • 2018
On June 7, 1981, eight Israeli F-16 jets dropped bombs on an Iraqi nuclear reactor commonly known asOsiraq. The strike eliminated Iraq’s most critical nuclear facility before it was completed,

The Strategic Logic of Nuclear Proliferation

When do states acquire nuclear weapons? To address this question, a strategic theory of nuclear proliferation must take into account the security goals of all of the key actors: the potential

Our remaining options for preventing a nuclear Iran

Fifty years ago the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), an international agreement that seeks to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, went into effect. Under the NPT, all

Avoiding the Unnecessary War. Myths and Reality of the West-Iran Nuclear Standoff

As Iran continues to defy international requests to produce guarantees of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, an ever more concerned Israel has been evoking the prospect of a

Operation Opera: an Ambiguous Success

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

Iran as a ‘pariah’ nuclear aspirant

This article demonstrates that Iran conforms to Richard K. Betts' model of a ‘pariah’ nuclear aspirant, as its nuclear program is driven by a potent combination of security, normative and domestic



The Israeli bombing of Osiraq reconsidered: Successful counterproliferation?

According to conventional wisdom, the June 7, 1981, counterproliferation attack by Israel on Iraq's Osiraq nuclear facility at al-Tuwaitha actually accelerated Iraq's efforts to build nuclear weapons

Self-Defense in International Law: The Israeli Raid on the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor (review)

account fails to illustrate the deadly blend of arrogance,.,ignorance, and incompetence that took the lives of the 241 American Marines who died in a suicide truck-bombing while they were asleep. The

Correspondence: IAEA Safeguards

Shai Feldman’s article “The Bombing of Osiraq-Revisited” in your Fall 1982 issue (Vol. 7, No. 1) is inaccurate and misleading in its discussion of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis

A decade before being proclaimed part of the "axis of evil," North Korea raised alarms in Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo as the pace of its clandestine nuclear weapons program mounted. When confronted

Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda

Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda, by Khidhir Hamza with Jeff Stein. New York: Scribner, 2000. 337 pages. Index to 352. $26. Reviewed

Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe

A call to action on the threat of nuclear terrorism predicts that a catastrophic attack is likely to occur within the next decade if policy makers continue present tactics, and states that such an

The National Security Strategy of the United States of America

To test the genuineness and/or condition of dollar bills or other substantially identical papers, one or more thickness gauges are positioned in the path of these papers and determine the deviations,

Can the United States influence the WMD policies of Iraq and Iran?

(2000). Can the United States influence the WMD policies of Iraq and Iran? The Nonproliferation Review: Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 63-76.

Osirak and international security

Although the international non-proliferation structure was never terribly solid in the first place, it now has been seriously weakened.

Use of Force in Korea is Tricky Proposition,’

  • Christian Science Monitor , Feb
  • 2003