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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 15, 1981

Memorandum for the President [Ronald Reagan] from Richard V. Allen, ‘Political Strategy for Responding to Israeli Attack’

National Security Advisor Richard V. Allen informed Reagan that the administration was “not required to make a legal determination on whether Israel violated U.S. law” and commented that the issue of the raid was “to be treated as a political rather than a legal question.”

June 12, 1981

Memorandum for the President [Ronald Reagan] from Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., ‘U.S. Strategy for UN Security Council Meeting on the Israeli Raid on the Iraqi Nuclear Facility’

This document outlines Haig's proposed political strategy, which was approved by Reagan on 12 June, and was constructed around the notion of red lines: Washington would harshly condemn Israel but would also “draw the line on punishment” by Israel.

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.

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.

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.