The reactor was part of Iraq’s quest for a nuclear weapon. On September 8, 1975,then-Vice President Saddam Hussein declared publicly that the purchase of the French
reactors ‘‘was the first actual step in the production of an Arab atomic weapon, despite the
fact that the declared purpose for the establishment of the reactor is not the production of
The Iranian revolution accelerated Iraqi interest in acquiring an atomic
bomb. In December 1979, Hussein directly commanded his nuclear scientists to defy NPT
commitments and build a nuclear weapon.
At the same time, Israel made efforts to delay the Iraqi nuclear program. The Israelis
filed a false laser patent in the late 1970s to mislead Arab nuclear research. Their
intelligence agents triggered explosions in April 1979 at a French production plant near
Toulouse, damaging the two reactor cores destined for the Iraqi reactors. Israeli agents
may also have been behind the murders of an Egyptian nuclear engineer in Paris as well as
two Iraqi engineers, all working for the Iraqi nuclear program.