Israel Acknowledges Bombing Syrian Nuclear Reactor in 2007

Pauline Gross
March 22, 2018

Until Wednesday, Israel had neither confirmed nor denied that it bombed the Al-Kibar nuclear reactor in the Deir el-Zor area of Syria in an overnight operation conducted on September 5, 2007.

Israel acknowledged for the first time Wednesday, March 21, that its air force destroyed a almost completed Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.

It said the reactor was "an emerging existential threat to Israel and the entire region". That was the message in 2007.

Breaking more than a decade of silence, the Israeli military announced Wednesday that it had carried out an airstrike in northeastern Syria back in 2007, destroying the Syrian government's nuclear reactor.

The reactor, believed to have been built with North Korean designs and materials, was created to produce weapons-grade plutonium for Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad to develop a nuclear arsenal on Israel's border.

Israel has for years been warily monitoring the situation in Syria, especially the involvement of Iran in the ongoing civil war.

Israel has recently intensified its warnings over the growing military presence of Iran in Syria.

Israel's involvement has been one of its most closely held secrets, and it was not immediately clear why Israel made a decision to go public now.

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An Israeli F-16 fighter jet takes off from the Hatzerim base in near the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva, on December 29, 2016. "And that is the message to our enemies for the future", said IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. The whole operation took four hours, the IDF said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog for the United Nations, concluded in 2011 that the site was "very likely" a reactor being built with North Korean help. Although they agreed that Syria had likely built a nuclear reactor, USA officials were hesitant to carry out an airstrike as they were not convinced that the al-Kubar facility was capable of producing nuclear weapons.

Beyond that, Netanyahu has warned that Israel will "never let Iran develop nuclear weapons".

"The global community must know that Israel will always protect the security of its citizens and take all necessary steps in the face of threats in our region", said Danon.

Yisrael Katz, Israeli Minister of Transportation who also serves as the Minister of Intelligence, congratulated former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his decision to operate.

"Prime Minister Olmert's execution of the strike made up for the confidence I had lost in the Israelis during the Lebanon war", Bush wrote, adding that the Israeli leader rejected a suggestion to go public with the operation.

That strike established Israel's policy, known as the Begin Doctrine and named after then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, that Israel would carry out preemptive strikes against the development of weapons of mass destruction it considered a threat.

Other reports by GizPress

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