Israel Says It Destroyed Syrian Nuclear Reactor in 2007

The Intelligence Failure: It Took Years for Israel to Discover Syria's Reactor

Despite being widely reported in global media and even directly referred to in a memoir by former US President George W Bush, Israel maintained a veil of secrecy around the strike to prevent an escalation with Syria, said Amos Yadlin, who served as Israel's chief of military intelligence during the strike.

For the first time, the Israeli government said Wednesday it was behind a 2007 bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility - a disclosure meant to send a message that it won't accept a nuclear Iran.

The move to go public with the strike, which has already been widely reported and cited to USA officials, comes amid repeated warnings by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for the United States and others to take more robust action on Syria's ally, Iran. "We would face a nuclear Syria". Reuters has been unable to immediately verify the Israeli material.

The Israeli military declassified internal "top secret" intelligence reports, in Hebrew, some of them partly redacted.

Although Israel was widely believed to have been behind the September 6, 2007, airstrike, it had never before commented publicly on it.

Syria, a signatory of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has always denied that the site was a reactor or that Damascus engaged in nuclear cooperation with North Korea.

The raid on Syria marked the second time Israel's military has destroyed the nuclear power generation capabilities of a neighbor in the region. The former prime minister explained that from that moment, in March 2007, Israel's political and military echelons began preparing the operational activities, which he described as "unprecedented".

Israel's admission is by no means the first time its military has been identified as the source of the attack.

The military command of Israel dubs the attack to be "Out of the Box" and was long known to have been conducted but was under an 11-year old gag order which forbid the Israeli media from publishing the details pertaining to the secret operation.

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The International Atomic Energy Agency deemed it, "very likely" the site, "was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared".

Israel's military sought to justify the strike on Wednesday further, noting that the Islamic State group captured the area around the facility during Syria's civil war. Damascus has not yet reacted to the Israeli statements.

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.

Israel determined that the alleged reactor was "totally disabled, and that the damage done was irreversible".

James Jeffrey, Bush's deputy national security adviser, said on Wednesday the former United States president had been "absolutely supportive" of Israel.

"Low, to me, is even 15 or 20 per cent, which is a lot". Israel has also been providing medical treatment to the extremist militants wounded in Syria.

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.

It said the reactor was being constructed with help from North Korea and had been months away from activation. "This was the message in 1981, this is the message in 2007 and this is the future message to our enemies".

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