Now retired in Toronto, Khadduri is an Iraqi nuclear scientist. He is author of Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991. He now blogs at Free Iraq and has written about the Iranian nuclear program.
The New York Times is reporting: “Blackout Hits Iran Nuclear Site in What Appears to Be Israeli Sabotage” and “Blaming Israel, Iran Vows Revenge for Blackout at Nuclear Site.”
In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak and many in the U.S. cheered it on as a way of allegedly stopping Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons. Khadduri was working at the time on the Iraqi nuclear program and says the effect was exactly the opposite. The Iraqi scientists didn’t trust Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon, so they refused to work on weapons for him — until the Israelis attacked.
Khadduri states: “I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program. The Israeli attack didn’t end the nuclear weapons program, it began it.” See past IPA news release with Khadduri for more background: “Iraqi Nuclear Scientist Debunks Nuclear Myths.”
Khadduri’s account is corroborated by the late Richard Wilson, who was Mallinckrodt research professor of physics at Harvard University. Wilson visited the Osirak Iraqi reactor in 1982 after it was bombed by Israel. He told IPA in 2006: “Many claim that the bombing of the Iraqi Osirak reactor delayed Iraq’s nuclear bomb program. But the Iraqi nuclear program before 1981 was peaceful, and the Osirak reactor was not only unsuited to making bombs but was under intensive safeguards. Certainly, Saddam Hussein would clearly have liked a nuclear bomb if he could have had one, but the issue is whether there were enough procedures for that reactor in place to prevent him from doing so and all the indications are that there were enough procedures.
“The Osirak reactor was destroyed in June 1981. It was not until early in July 1981 that Saddam Hussein personally released Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar from house arrest and asked him to start and head the clandestine nuclear bomb program. The destruction of Osirak did not stop an Iraqi nuclear bomb program but probably started it.”