Did Israel Target a Syrian Nuke Site?

That's the verdict of some foreign intelligence and defense experts who reportedly have seen the reports:

Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.

The description of the target addresses one of the central mysteries surrounding the Sept. 6 attack, and suggests that Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project in a neighboring state.

The Bush administration was divided at the time about the wisdom of Israel’s strike, American officials said, and some senior policymakers still regard the attack as premature.

The attack on the reactor project has echoes of an Israeli raid more than a quarter century ago, in 1981, when Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq shortly before it was to have begun operating. That attack was officially condemned by the Reagan administration, though Israelis consider it among their military’s finest moments, and, in the weeks before the Iraq war, Bush administration officials said they believed that attack set back Iraq’s nuclear ambitions by many years.

By contrast, the facility that the Israelis struck in Syria appears to have been much further from completion, the American and foreign officials said. They said it would have been years before the Syrians could have used the reactor to produce the spent nuclear fuel that could, through a series of additional steps, be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium.
The reports also indicate that Syria was receiving assistance in building the reactor from the North Koreans, perhaps even purchasing the design for the reactor from the regime.

Ed Lasky adds:

Some officials (State Department ) will always consider an attack by Israel "premature"; I suppose they would rather talk Syria out of developing weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed.

The idea that the North Koreans are willing to sell their nuclear technology to Syria or any other state is of grave concern to the United States. That technology is just about all the NoKo's have that any other nation could want and the desperately poor nation that is once again seeing its citizens starving to death could be tempted to supply states with other, more vital nuclear secrets as well.

For Israel's part, by successfully taking out the nascent reactor, they believe they have re-established the credibility of their deterrent following the sub-par performance of the IDF in their war with Hezb'allah and that they have sent a message to Syria that they will not tolerate any kind of a nuclear program whatosever. Also, Iran could not have seen this attack as anything except a dress rehearsal for an Israeli strike on their own nuclear sites.

The threatened strike ignited a debate in Washington last summer over whether the Syrian nuclear program was far enough along that it constituted a threat to the Jewish state and whether taking out the reactor would cause more harm in the region than any good that could come from destroying Syrian nuclear capability. In the end, while Washington dithered, Israel acted.

It is significant that the only protest in the Arab world over the strike has come from Syria itself. Not even Syria's erstwhile ally Iran has bothered to register a peep of resentment. Apparently, there are a lot of countries in the region breathing a sigh of relief that Syria won't have the bomb anytime soon.

Clearly, the Syrians were embarrassed by the relative ease with which the Israelis penetrated their new  Russian made air defense system in order to carry out this extremely successful surgical strike. For that reason, and the fact that Syrians don't want to let the nuclear cat out of the bag, their response has been to deny anything of value was hit in the raid.

Questions for US policy makers will continue to be addressed as North Korea shuts down its major reactors that contribute to its bomb program and our elected leaders weigh a strike on Iran. One thing is sure; Israel will not allow the proliferation of nuclear technology to threaten its existence. And in case its enemies weren't sure before, you can bet they're convinced now.




That's the verdict of some foreign intelligence and defense experts who reportedly have seen the reports:

Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.

The description of the target addresses one of the central mysteries surrounding the Sept. 6 attack, and suggests that Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project in a neighboring state.

The Bush administration was divided at the time about the wisdom of Israel’s strike, American officials said, and some senior policymakers still regard the attack as premature.

The attack on the reactor project has echoes of an Israeli raid more than a quarter century ago, in 1981, when Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq shortly before it was to have begun operating. That attack was officially condemned by the Reagan administration, though Israelis consider it among their military’s finest moments, and, in the weeks before the Iraq war, Bush administration officials said they believed that attack set back Iraq’s nuclear ambitions by many years.

By contrast, the facility that the Israelis struck in Syria appears to have been much further from completion, the American and foreign officials said. They said it would have been years before the Syrians could have used the reactor to produce the spent nuclear fuel that could, through a series of additional steps, be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium.
The reports also indicate that Syria was receiving assistance in building the reactor from the North Koreans, perhaps even purchasing the design for the reactor from the regime.

Ed Lasky adds:

Some officials (State Department ) will always consider an attack by Israel "premature"; I suppose they would rather talk Syria out of developing weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed.

The idea that the North Koreans are willing to sell their nuclear technology to Syria or any other state is of grave concern to the United States. That technology is just about all the NoKo's have that any other nation could want and the desperately poor nation that is once again seeing its citizens starving to death could be tempted to supply states with other, more vital nuclear secrets as well.

For Israel's part, by successfully taking out the nascent reactor, they believe they have re-established the credibility of their deterrent following the sub-par performance of the IDF in their war with Hezb'allah and that they have sent a message to Syria that they will not tolerate any kind of a nuclear program whatosever. Also, Iran could not have seen this attack as anything except a dress rehearsal for an Israeli strike on their own nuclear sites.

The threatened strike ignited a debate in Washington last summer over whether the Syrian nuclear program was far enough along that it constituted a threat to the Jewish state and whether taking out the reactor would cause more harm in the region than any good that could come from destroying Syrian nuclear capability. In the end, while Washington dithered, Israel acted.

It is significant that the only protest in the Arab world over the strike has come from Syria itself. Not even Syria's erstwhile ally Iran has bothered to register a peep of resentment. Apparently, there are a lot of countries in the region breathing a sigh of relief that Syria won't have the bomb anytime soon.

Clearly, the Syrians were embarrassed by the relative ease with which the Israelis penetrated their new  Russian made air defense system in order to carry out this extremely successful surgical strike. For that reason, and the fact that Syrians don't want to let the nuclear cat out of the bag, their response has been to deny anything of value was hit in the raid.

Questions for US policy makers will continue to be addressed as North Korea shuts down its major reactors that contribute to its bomb program and our elected leaders weigh a strike on Iran. One thing is sure; Israel will not allow the proliferation of nuclear technology to threaten its existence. And in case its enemies weren't sure before, you can bet they're convinced now.