From Osirak to Iran scientists: Other nuclear-related attacks linked to Israel

Aside from destruction of Syrian and Iraqi reactors, covert assassinations and computer viruses have also been attributed to the Jewish state

An F-16I fighter jet of the Israeli Air Force's 253rd Squadron prepares to take off during an operation to bomb a Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzor on September 5, 2007. (Israel Defense Forces)
An F-16I fighter jet of the Israeli Air Force's 253rd Squadron prepares to take off during an operation to bomb a Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzor on September 5, 2007. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel, which Wednesday admitted responsibility for a top-secret 2007 air raid against a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor, has been accused of other attacks in the Middle East involving atomic targets:

Osirak raid

On June 7, 1981, Israeli fighters bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, or Tammuz for Iraqis, located west of Baghdad. A French technician was killed in the raid.

The Israeli planes operated 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) from their base near Eilat on the Red Sea.

According to Israeli media, the planes were able to go unnoticed by flying at low altitude above the Saudi and Iraqi deserts.

Tammuz was believed to be key to an Iraqi nuclear bomb program. The first Israeli bomb dropped weighed 900 kilograms (almost 2,000 pounds).

The Osirak reactor prior to the 1981 Israeli bombing (photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Israeli attack drew widespread international condemnation, including by the US and in the UN Security Council.

In 2007, Israeli television broadcast for the first time images shot by Israeli aviation during the raid.

The prime minister at the time of the raid, Menachem Begin, said Osirak was on the point of becoming operational, which would have enabled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to produce atomic bombs.

Iranian scientists targeted

In January 2010, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at Tehran University, was killed when a booby-trapped motorcycle exploded outside his home in the capital.

The respected professor taught at Tehran University but also worked for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Several leaders and official media in Iran quickly blamed the attack on Israeli and US intelligence services.

Tehran had earlier the same year accused the US and Israel of kidnapping nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri who disappeared in May 2009. He resurface a year later in the US — where he was apparently living of his own choice, and then returned to Iran in 2010 where he was executed in 2016 for spying for the US.

Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist attends a news briefing while holding his son Amir Hossein as he arrives at the Imam Khomeini airport just outside Tehran, Iran, after returning from the United States on July 15, 2010. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

In November 2010, two scientists with key roles in the Iranian nuclear program were targeted in Tehran by two bomb attacks that Iran blamed on Israel and the US. One of the scientists, Majid Shahriari, was killed.

A year later, on November 12, an explosion in a munitions depot of the Revolutionary Guard in a Tehran suburb killed at least 36 people including General Hassan Moghadam, in charge of weapons programs for the elite unit.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the US and Israel had led the operation against the Iranian nuclear program.


In 2010, a powerful computer virus called Stuxnet attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities in a bid to set back the country’s atomic program.

Stuxnet affected the functioning of Iranian nuclear sites, infecting several thousands of computers and blocking centrifuges used for the enrichment of uranium.

Tehran accused Israel and the US of being at the origin of the computer viruses Stuxnet and Flame.

In Syria, Israel has sought to avoid direct involvement in the civil war that broke out in 2011, but it acknowledges carrying out dozens of airstrikes there to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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