France to Renew Work on Nuclear Reactor in Iraq

France has decided to renew work on the nuclear reactor it is helping Iraq build in the vicinity of Baghdad. The usually well informed French weekly, Le Point, reports in its forthcoming issue that French technicians are due to leave for Baghdad and resume work on the site.

Work was interrupted and the French technicians withdrawn after the reactor, known as Osirak, was bombed by two unidentified Phantom planes during the early days of Iraq’s war with Iran. The reactor’s concrete dome was slightly damaged by the planes rockets and the French personnel were evacuated overland to Amman, Jordan, and flown to France from there.

Iraq has several times since asked for the resumption of the construction work on the reactor which theoretically should have become operative later this year. France and Iraq have claimed that both Osirak and a smaller reactor also under construction will be used “strictly for scientific” purposes. But Israel and a number of Western scientists have charged that it could easily switch to the production of nuclear arms.

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