Monday, July 2, 2012

Prior to attacking Osirak

Yitzchak Shamir died over the weekend, at the age of 96. The ISA has declassified and put online a small collection of his documents; many of his documents cannot yet be declassified.

On June 7th 1981 Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad. Word got out only the next day, and on June 9th Shamir, then Foreign Minster, sent out an English-language letter of explanation to his ambassadors. Two details stand out. First, there weren't that many embassies to which to send the letter. Israel had no relations with any Arab nations except Egypt, of course, but nor did it have any embassies in Communist countries of which there were many in those days, nor to almost any African countries; many of the so-called non-aligned countries were firmly non-aligned against Israel. Some people today bemoan or celebrate Israel's status as a "pariah state". Perhaps they should remind themselves how things looked thirty years ago and compare.

The second point to note is Shamir's implied criticism of some unnamed nations:
Israel repeatedly appealed to nations which supplied Iraq with nuclear technology and material, pointing out the grave dangers which such supplies posed to the peace in this region and to Israel in particular. We stressed, that that aid was liable to reignite the flames of conflict in the region and to put to nought the efforts to reach a peace settlement. We reiterated that everything be done to prevent Iraq from obtaining a military nuclear capability. We also urged other friendly governments to use their influence in this direction.
I assume the governments who had been supplying the technology or had been asked to wield their influence to hamper the flow of nuclear aid knew who they were.

1 comment:

  1. To round out the story - in fact, separate telegrams were also sent to the foreign ministers of Italy and France, the two countries which had helped Iraq, reminding them of Israel's efforts to persuade them to change their policy. The friendly country which had been asked to intervene was the USA.