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Struggle for Iraq
Introduction
Click on the events below to read about Iraq's history
Saddam's rise:
1957-79
Iran-Iraq war:
1980-88
Gulf War:
1990 - 1991
Containment:
1991-2002
Second war:
2003-06
Young activist
Hardline deputy
War breaks out
Israeli bombing
Chemical warfare
Western support
Truce and debt
Kuwait invasion
Desert Storm
Scud missiles
Civilian casualties
Ground war
Iraqi ceasefire
Uprisings
After the war
No-fly zones
Oil-for-Food
Desert Fox
Inspectors barred
US-led invasion
Saddam captured
Iraq in turmoil
Trial of Saddam
ISRAELI BOMBING, JUNE 1981

As fighting between Iran and Iraq raged, Israel bombed a nuclear reactor being built near Baghdad. Despite the anti-Zionism of Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamist regime, Israel backed Iran in the war.

In the 1970s, Iraq had tried to persuade France to sell it a nuclear reactor similar to the one used in the French weapons programme.

France had refused, but agreed to sell and to help build the 40 megawatt Osirak research reactor at the Tuwaitha nuclear centre near Baghdad.

Israel said that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons.

Fearing Iraq might eventually target Israel, then Prime Minister Menachem Begin sent several F-16s to bomb the Osirak reactor, reducing it to rubble in seconds.

The Israeli military says the raid "put the nuclear genie of Baghdad back into his bottle".

But the bombing was widely condemned at the time, even by Israel's traditional ally the US, which backed a UN resolution censuring Israel.

Iraq's Tuwaitha nuclear complex
Tuwaitha was a key nuclear centre

Map showing location of Osirak nuclear reactor

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