Enforcing the Begin Doctrine : How Israel Stopped Iraq and Syria from Getting the Bomb
Israel will not allow any of its Middle Eastern foes to produce nuclear weapons. This bold statement captures the essence of what has become known as the Begin Doctrine. Named after the prime minister who first enunciated it, this doctrine has been enforced in a most emphatic way on two occasions. In 1981, the Israel Air Force (IAF) reduced Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor to a pile of rubble. In 2007, it did the same to Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor. Furthermore, the Jewish state has waged an unceasing campaign of sabotage against Iran's burgeoning nuclear weapons research program throughout the first two decades of the twenty-first century, and may yet decide to attack Iranian nuclear installations in the same manner as those struck in Iraq and Syria. The story of Operation Opera, the raid on Osirak, has been told before, but not for quite some time. The story of Operation Orchard, the raid on al-Kibar, has received almost no attention. With the Iranian nuclear threat against Israel looming in the background, then, it seems an appropriate moment to revisit these operations in order to examine how the Begin Doctrine has been acted upon in the past. Doing so can provide some clues as to how it might be acted upon in the future. To this end, the present book is divided into five chapters. An introductory chapter briefly reviews the history of attacks on nuclear weapons research programs around the world, demonstrating that the Israeli raids against Osirak and al-Kibar are far from unique events. The next chapter probes the birth, expansion, and rationale behind the Israeli nuclear arsenal, because the Jewish state's commitment to retain its nuclear monopoly in the Middle East cannot be understood without some sense of its attitude toward the bomb. The following two chapters, the core of the book, describe and analyze the diplomatic and military dimensions of Operations Opera and Orchard, respectively. Finally, a concluding chapter offers some educated guesses about a potential Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear weapons research program, using Operations Opera and Orchard as a tentative guide to how such an attack might unfold.