THE 1980 IRANIAN AIRSTRIKE ON IRAQ’S NUCLEAR PLANT
The unknown Iranian attack overshadowed by the later Israeli one
When sabotaging something there is always the risk of unintended consequences. There might be more harm caused which will hurt your cause badly in the propaganda sphere. This is why the failed US cruise missile attacks on Syria in 2017 and 2018, based upon Facebook and Social Media “intelligence” and nothing else, faked intelligence, were nothing but nonsense without any known deterrence or success. Why, because the cruise missiles were either shot down or jammed with at least two captured intact by the Russians who by now analyzed them most thoroughly. Only where the targets were not defended did the missiles get through and destroyed a “chemical plant.” But pictures and videos show civilians standing around the ruins. Therefore, whatever was inside could not be poisonous or they would be lying around dead as the gasses escaped. And if it was a poison factory, as claimed by the idiots in Washington, then why attack something that can cause hurt to civilians (against the laws of war). As such, when conducting sabotage the consequences are always looked at and studied or should be. No more so than when attacking an unfinished or non-operational nuclear plant. The consequences of attacking an operating nuclear plant will be devastating in the extreme sense of the word. Think Chernobyl multiplied by a factor of a hundred and a nuclear winter surrounding the area. Thus such plants must be destroyed before they are operational.
It is probably totally unknown to the West that Iran attacked the Iraqi Osirak reactor-based at Tuwaitha, a city ten miles southeast of Baghdad before the Israelis did. They flew in with two F-4 Phantoms IIs on 30 September 1980. This was after the Iranian Revolution and a week into the Iraq vs Iran War. They dropped their high explosive bombs on the control room, research/centrifuge facilities, as well as the adjacent buildings with devastating accuracy.
The raid was done with the full support of Yehoshua Saguy, Director of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate. At the same time, two other Iranian Phantom IIs attacked Baghdad’s main power plant as a diversion. For the next two days, the city had no electricity. In those days, the Jews and Iranians, despite the spiteful rhetoric, considered each other to be unofficial allies. When the famous Israeli air raid took place with their newly acquired F-16s in 1981, Iran offered the IAF aircraft landing rights at an Iranian airfield in Tabriz in the case of an emergency. This is denied officially but it happened. It is also so that the Iranians did not bomb the Iraqi reactor directly because they feared that it may have been fuelled already, which it was not. But they did not know that and so they showed constraint.
There were genuine fears of Saddam Hussein getting hold of a nuclear bomb and dropping it on Israel and/or Iran, the arch-enemy created by the West who nudged Hussein into attacking Iran. Eight years of war followed combined with million-plus casualties and chemical warfare by the Iraqis, note, not the Iranians. Because of Hussein, Israel and Iran saw a common enemy in Iraq. As late as 1987, Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin stated that “Iran is our best friend and we don't intend to change our position.” That is undoubtedly the reason why the Iranian airframes were kept flying with secret Israeli assistance and spare parts that came via the US of A. How do we know, well, a few defected and the airframes were inspected and the parts discovered.
Much has changed since then, apparently.
The Iranian raid was called Operation Scorch Sword. Also of interest, the four Iranian F-4E Phantom jets refueled mid-air near the Iran-Iraq border which shows more skill than what they were credited with by the West. Certainly, they had problems just after the Revolution, many of the pilots were executed in the purges that followed. It must be kept in mind that the Iranian Air Force was a mini USAF before and for some years after their revolution. We know that they sunk several of the Iraqi Navy vessels on 29 November 1980 using the AGM-65 Maverick missile. They had good pilots and aircrew, no doubt. In fact, most of the F-14 Tomcat victories were not by the US Navy but by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force over Iraqi jets. One of the fighter pilots, Jalil Zandi, is credited with shooting down 11 Iraqi fighter jets. His victories included four MiG-23s, two Su-22s, two MiG-21s, and three Mirage F1s and is confirmed by US Intel reports. This makes him the highest-scoring pilot in the history of the airframe. So much so for the Top Gun heroes that falsified their scores to look better (see Code Name Jen where this shenanigan is exposed). The Iranian planning was sound and done the old-fashioned way since they had no access to American spy satellites, unlike the Israeli Air Force on their raid (denied by the US, probably lying like always). The target, the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor was defended airspace. There was one SA-6 missile battery, three French-made Roland missile batteries, as well as no less than forty anti-aircraft artillery positions (23 mm and 57 mm radar-guided guns). The Iranians could not jam the Roland system with their onboard ECM systems, only the SA-6, and had to dodge whatever was coming up to meet them. They could not jam the Roland because it was a “friendly Western system.” Ironically, the Brits faced the same problem during the Falkland War, they faced not Soviet missile systems but French (Exocet). In the end, it was a great raid by both Air Forces, the Iranian and Israeli ones. But, was it worth the effort?
Probably not depending on who you believe.
Iraq and France, the manufacturer, always claimed that the reactor was never intended to generate enriched plutonium to make the bomb. In this they are fully supported by Richard Wilson, a professor of physics at Harvard University. He actually saw the damaged reactor after the Israeli raid and stated in 2003, “… to collect enough plutonium (for a nuclear device) using Osirak would've taken decades, not years.” Two years later Wilson said, “The Osirak reactor that was bombed by Israel in June of 1981 was explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit.” Again, this time in 2012, the learned professor insisted, “The Iraqis couldn't have been developing a nuclear weapon at Osirak. I challenge any scientist in the world to show me how they could have done so.”
Many tried to challenge this view but not one thus far could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Iraqis were after a nuclear weapon. It was a myth and probably part of Hussein’s boasting as much as he boasted that he had masses of chemical weapons when he had none and the UN’s weapon inspectors confirmed it. Nevertheless, the US Coalition still invaded in 2003, ignoring all reports to the contrary. As we know today, Donald J Trump canceled the US part of the Iranian Nuclear Deal (JPOA) in 2017. This was done on the advice of the fired and disgraceful John Bolton, the then NSA. And also whilst all available reports said that Iran was not breaking their part at all but abiding to the letter of the agreement.
I wonder, who is the Rogue State here that will not learn from history? Of course, with Egypt, Iran and Iraq removed as a threat and Syria left in ruins, the Jewish State is safeguarded against conventional attack for the time being. You have to remember, there are a lot more Arabs than Jews in that part of the world. They have every reason to feel threatened and beleaguered. They will never compromise security and ought not. Should Israel be overrun there will be no survivors, they are that hated. So I believe this was and stays the master plan behind the Washington rhetoric on Iran, to protect the Jewish State. Alone, Israel cannot defeat Iran, its own generals admit so in public. They have no chance whatsoever. But it remains peculiar to me that in their utter arrogance, the White House and Congress, cannot even see that the entire world is understanding the “Defend Israel at All Costs” plot and dislike it. A better way would be to live in peace as far as possible. To encourage peace.
Mostly taken for Code Name July 27, a book on sabotage.
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