Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited ISRAELâ€™S ATTACK ON OSIRAQ: A MODEL FOR FUTURE PREVENTIVE STRIKES? Peter S. Ford Major, United States Air Force B.S., United States Air Force Academy, 1990 Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS IN SECURITY STUDIES (DEFENSE DECISION-MAKING AND PLANNING) from the NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL September 2004 Author: Peter S. Ford Approved by: Peter R. Lavoy Thesis Advisor James J. Wirtz Second Reader James J. Wirtz Chairman, Department of National Security Affairs http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/ford.pdf ABSTRACT Twenty-three years ago, Israeli fighter pilots destroyed the Osiraq nuclear reactor and made a profound statement about global nuclear proliferation. In light of the recent preventive regime change in Iraq, a review of this strike reveals timely lessons for future counterproliferation actions. Using old, new, and primary source evidence, this thesis examines Osiraq for lessons from a preventive attack on a non-conventional target. Before attacking Osiraq, Israeli policymakers attempted diplomatic coercion to delay Iraqâ€™s nuclear development. Concurrent with diplomatic actions, Israeli planners developed a state of the art military plan to destroy Osiraq. Finally, Israeli leaders weathered the international storm after the strike. The thesis examines Israeli decisionmaking for each of these phases. The thesis draws two conclusions. First, preventive strikes are valuable primarily for two purposes: buying time and gaining international attention. Second, the strike provided a one-time benefit for Israel. Subsequent strikes will be less effective due to dispersed/hardened nuclear targets and limited intelligence.