Published: Thu, March 22, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Israel Says It Destroyed Syrian Nuclear Reactor in 2007

Israel Says It Destroyed Syrian Nuclear Reactor in 2007

"The courageous decision of the Israeli government nearly 11 years ago to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria and the successful operation following it sends a clear message: Israel will never allow nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence", he said on Twitter. "The operation successfully removed an emerging existential threat to Israel and to the entire region - Syrian nuclear capabilities".

Wednesday's announcement marks the second time that Israel has acknowledged destroying the nuclear reactor of an enemy country.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said on Wednesday that Israel will do whatever is necessary to protect itself from regional threats and beyond just hours after it was revealed that Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor back in 2007.

A military statement summarising the operation lays out the case for why Israel carried out the strike at the desert site in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria on what it says was a nuclear reactor under construction.

Israeli media are also discussing the possibility that today's disclosure is related to the upcoming publication of memoirs by both former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his bitter rival and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

In early 2006, intelligence first provided solid evidence that Assad was building a reactor.

Israel said the reactor was being constructed with the help of North Korea and was only months away from being activated.

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The UN atomic watchdog declared in 2011 that the Syrian site was "very likely" to have been a nuclear reactor, adding that information provided to it suggested that it was being built with North Korean assistance.

Syria has on numerous occasions slammed the Western countries for supplying Israel with nuclear materials in a blatant violation of the NPT and even helping it to keep its nuclear activities secret. That was the message in 2007.

Speculating about the timing of the release, Aaron David Miller, a Washington, DC-based Middle East expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said, "I think the Israelis not only are trying to demonstrate deterrence but to make it unmistakably clear that they would strike again".

According to Air force commander Major General Amikam Norkin, the strike has been vindicated by the conflict and chaos in Syria, as the reactor was in an area that was later under the control of Islamic State.

The mission to destroy the reactor started at 10.30pm on 5 September and ended with the return of the warplanes at 2.30am the next day, the Israeli military said.

The strike came about a year after Israel's inconclusive war against Hezbollah, in which the Lebanese group battled Israel's army to a stalemate.

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