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Part 1 The Cold War Era (1945–89), 28 Israel’s Airstrike Against Iraq’s Osiraq Nuclear Reactor—1981

Tom Ruys

From: The Use of Force in International Law: A Case-Based Approach

Edited By: Tom Ruys, Olivier Corten, Alexandra Hofer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 25 May 2024

Self-defence — Aggression — Warfare, air — International organizations — Armed attack

This contribution discusses Israel’s 1981 air strike against the nuclear reactor of Osiraq, Iraq. It sets out the facts and context of the operation, the legal arguments invoked by Israel and the reactions within the international community. It then tests the legality of the Israeli intervention against the international legal framework governing the use of force, having regard in particular to the right of self-defence, as well as to potential alternative legal bases. The final section examines if, and to what extent, the case has had an impact on the further development of the jus ad bellum, focusing in particular on its relevance for the debate on the permissibility of pre-emptive self-defence.

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