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Eyewitnesses Say Planes Avoided Civilian Areas

June 11, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli air craft scored direct hits and carefully avoided civilian installations, according to eye witness accounts today to the Israeli air attack on the Iraqi nuclear facility near Baghdad.

French technicians employed at the site in Tamuz arrived here today after having been recalled by the French Government. One technician remarked that the Israeli planes “aimed with remarkable precision their bombs which fell to within one meter (1 yard) of their target.” Jacques Rimbaud, an employee of a civil engineering firm said,” It all lasted no more than 10 seconds.”

Other technicians confirmed that the huge concrete dome which covered the reactor was “simply knocked off” but could not be certain about the actual damage inflicted on the reactor.

The more than 150 French technicians and engineers employed at the site are being evacuated to France except for a small number who will deal with the reactor’s maintenance. The decision to evacuate was taken immediately after the Government’s learning of the death of 25-year-old French engineer Damien Chaussepied.

Meanwhile, the French press continued to criticize the raid but Government sources were more moderate. The Elysee Palace Secretary, General Pierre Beregovoy, reported today that “no additional comments are needed” after the statements by Premier Pierre Mauroy, Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson and President Francois Mitterrand himself.

Speaking last night in Montelimar, President Mitterrand said that any violation of international law will automatically be condemned “in spite of our friendly ties” with Israel. Cheysson also tempered last night an earlier declaration by stressing that “Israel is a friend entitled to security … and we will not change our basic attitude because of this intolerable act.”

The Mitterrand Administration seemed determined to try to stop, at least for the time being, the public discussion and condemnation of Israel. It might raise the subject again however through diplomatic channels after the Israeli elections and the formation of a new Israeli Government.

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