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First and foremost, the unarguable military fact is that Osirak and Syria constitute no precedent whatsoever where Iran is concerned.
Osirak was a surprise attack against a single, inadequately protected facility – the Iraqi missile defense team was actually having dinner, machines switched off, when Israel struck — and Saddam was incapable of rebuilding or of retaliating with particular viciousness. Where Syria was concerned, surprise was the order of the day too, and here Israel took pains not to publicly claim responsibility in order – successfully – to avoid embarrassing the Syrians into a perceived need to retaliate.
With the Iranian program, the picture is entirely different. Iran has constructed its nuclear facilities with Osirak serving as the case study in what not to do – built them, therefore, with minimal vulnerability to attack. Israeli officials have intimated with deliberate vagueness that Israel can do what is necessary to protect itself, but any military option would be immeasurably more complex than the challenge that was posed by Osirak. It is hard to see how there could be any surprise in a strike that has been trumpeted in the headlines for months. And Iran can both rebuild and — via Hamas, Hezbollah, terrorism and missile attack — it can hit back.
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