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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Factfile: How Osirak was bombed
As part of a series marking 25 years since Israel bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, the BBC News website recounts how the operation was carried out:

At 1255 GMT on Sunday 7 June 1981, eight Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers take off along with two F-15 interceptors from Etzion air force base in Egypt's Sinai Desert (occupied at the time by Israel).

A number of other F-15s head elsewhere in Iraq as back-up.

The 10 planes fly about 1,000km (600 miles) through Jordanian and Saudi airspace unchallenged, hugging the desert at a height of 120m (394ft)

External fuel tanks are jettisoned over the Saudi desert.

The bombing run

Entering Iraqi airspace, the planes descend to 30m to avoid radar detection.

1. At 1735, the bombers are about 20km east of the Tammuz 1 nuclear reactor - better known as Osirak - just south of Baghdad. The reactor has still to load its first nuclear fuel.

2. The F-16 pilots ignite their afterburners and climb to a height of 2,130m for the attack run.

3. They dive towards the reactor dome at a speed of 1,100 km/h.


4. At a height of 1,067m, they release pairs of 1,000kg bombs at 5-second intervals. All 16, each fitted with a time-delay fuse, hit Osirak though two fail to explode.

5. As Iraqi anti-aircraft fire goes up, the planes climb to an altitude of 12,190m for the trip home.

Fears of Iraqi interceptors appearing on the Israeli planes' tails prove unfounded.

By dusk, all 10 planes are back at base unscathed.


They have an average of just 450kg (1,000 pounds) of fuel left - enough for about 270km in the air.

At Osirak, a French-designed reactor, the death toll is 10 Iraqi soldiers and a French civilian researcher.

The reactor lies in ruins, having never entered operation.

On 19 June, the United Nations Security Council condemns the attack in a resolution.

Israel ignores the condemnation, insisting it was acting to pre-empt a nuclear threat.

Iraq pursues a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, uncovered by United Nations inspectors after the 1991 Gulf War.

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