On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad. It was known as Operation Opera (also called Operation Babylon in some circles). It put an end to Saddam Hussein's hopes of developing his own nuclear weapons.
38 years later, the pilots who undertook that mission have been reminiscing about it.
Thirty-eight years after Operation Opera — the Israeli air attack that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak — surviving pilots gathered to mark the event, noting “one of the greatest ironies in history”: that the attack was enabled by the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
When Israel discovered in 1977 that Iraq was building a plutonium reactor that could be used to make nuclear weapons, the fighter jets at its disposal — F-4 Phantoms and Skyhawks — were not capable of flying the over 1,000 miles into enemy territory and returning safely, recalled retired Maj. Gen. David Ivry, the IAF commander at the time, in a TV interview at the recent gathering.
But in 1979, Israel had a stroke of good fortune.
The Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a staunch US ally, leading the US to cancel a massive deal to supply Iran with 75 top-of-the-line F-16 fighter jets.
The Americans then offered them to Israel.
“I immediately said yes,” recalled Ivri in the interview with Channel 12, broadcast on Sunday night. “Without asking anybody. When someone offers you the best fighter jets, first of all you say yes, then you see…,” he said.
“The fact that the jets came to us because of the Iranian revolution is one of the greatest ironies in history,” said Col. (Ret.) Ze’ev Raz, who led the June 7, 1981, raid, and who also participated in the get-together marking 38 years since the strike.
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Yadlin hailed “the decision by Begin, and the doctrine that was established with this operation and later named after him: that if there is an Arab leader who calls for the destruction of Israel, Israel will not allow them to have nuclear weapons.”
Israel again employed the Begin Doctrine on September 6, 2007, in a mission known as Operation Orchard, when Israeli jets destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria. Israel has also repeatedly warned that it could attack Iran to prevent that country gaining nuclear weapons.
“That doctrine was founded in this [Osirak] operation, and it has not yet ended,” said Yadlin.
There's more at the link.
I fear Iran may have lost sight of the so-called Begin doctrine. It's been threatening Israel for many years, and trying to develop nuclear weapons. It recently increased its production of enriched uranium. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Israeli attack aircraft are now on a high state of alert, ready to strike at Iranian nuclear targets at even the slightest suspicion that a nuclear weapon is close to fruition.