The same day that the New York Times broke a story about what it claimed was a massive Israeli air force drill meant to simulate an attack against nuclear installations in Iran, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Colonel (res.) Aviam Sela, who is said to have been the architect behind Israel’s attack against Iraq’s nuclear reactor, Ma’ariv reported on Sunday.
According to the report, while government officials confirmed to the paper that Sela and Olmert met on Friday at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, they downplayed the importance of the meeting.
Then Lt.-Col. Ze’ev Raz (bottom right corner) and his men, including then-Capt. Ilan Ramon (upper left), just minutes after landing following the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in June 1981.
The paper reported that Sela was the brains behind “Operation Opera,” which when carried out in 1981 resulted in the destruction of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. The report claimed that Sela was considered one of the foremost authorities on in-flight refueling for warplanes, and was even tapped to become the commander of the air force, but such plans were scuttled due to his involvement in the Jonathan Pollard affair.
The report speculates that Olmert invited Sela to the meeting to hear from the colonel his thoughts about the chances that Israel would succeed in attacking Iran following the report of the large-scale IAF military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.