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The Osirak Air Raid

 These documents, obtained by Giordana Pulcini and Or Rabinowitz, represent an inside look into the Reagan Administrations reaction and response to Operation Opera - the Israeli air raid that destroyed the Iraq nuclear facility near Baghdad. The documents primarily derive from the Ronald Reagan Library, but the Israeli State Archives, Indian National Archives, and Italian Central Archives are also represented.

Popular Documents

June 11, 1981

Telegram from Washington Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Evron-the President'

The Israelis were concerned and disappointed by the administration’s initial response to the raid, which consisted of a freeze on the shipment of F-16 jets to Israel until a legal review was conducted. The Israeli ambassador to Washington conveyed this sentiment to President Reagan in a meeting on 11 June 1980 in this telegram.

June 9, 1981

Telegram from Washington Embassay to Foreign Office, Subject: administration response

Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who maintained close ties with the Israeli diplomats, told the Israeli ambassador in a phone conversation on 9 June 1981 that Israel’s action in Baghdad caused a serious complication for the U.S., reiterating that “President Reagan thinks the same”.

June 7, 1981

Attack on the Iraqi Nuclear Research Centre, 7 June 1981: Statement by the Director General

After the raid Israel initiated a PR campaign, explaining its reasoning behind the attack. Following this campaign, the second causality of the raid, in addition to Iraq’s reactor, was the credibility of the IAEA. And its officials staged their own counter campaign.

June 9, 1981

Cable, American Embassy Tel Aviv to the Secretary of State, ‘Israeli Strike on Iraqi Nuclear Facility: Background for the Decision’

While starting to construct the political strategy of response to the raid, the administration came face to face with what U.S. ambassador to Israel, Sam Lewis called in his cable to Washington a “gap” in the administration’s “institutional memory”, as assessments regarding Israel’s intention to launch a strike were not passed on from the Carter administration.

August 13, 1982

Memorandum for the President [Ronald Reagan] from Secretary Weinberger, ‘Weekly Report of Defense Activities’

Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger openly conveyed his dismay toward the Israeli leadership, expressing his support for the opposition, led by Shimon Peres.