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Iraqi Nuclear Program

An Iraqi nuclear program got off the ground under Saddam Hussein during the 1970s. Well financed and well organized, its pièce de résistance consisted of a French-provided reactor (Osiraq) that was planned to be built not far from Baghdad.

However, there were repeated delays, some of them probably due to sabotage carried out by Israel’s intelligence service Mossad. In the summer of 1981, just before the reactor was finally due to go critical and produce plutonium, it was destroyed by an attack mounted by the Israeli Air Force.

Since the core containing uranium had not yet been installed, and since the raid was carried out during the Muslim weekend, there was no radioactivity and no loss of human life.

The Osirak nuclear plant destroyed after the Israeli attack
The Osirak nuclear plant destroyed after the Israeli attack

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