Inside Israel's Secret Raid on Syria's Nuclear Reactor

(Politico) Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv - Eleven years after Israeli air force jets bombed the clandestine nuclear reactor in next-door Syria being built with the help of North Korea, Israel's military censor is finally lifting the veil of secrecy on the operation. The Sept. 6, 2007, raid was conducted near the remote desert city of Deir ez-Zur. Before today, Israel has never officially acknowledged its existence. Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo asked in an interview with us: "Where were the Americans? North Korea is a highly important target for them. And it still isn't clear whether Assad was running the nuclear project, or was it the North Koreans?" He added that he has doubts that Syria was going to keep the plutonium, or perhaps it was going to be shipped to North Korea as a supply of which the West would be unaware. Pardo's questions raise another: What else might the CIA be missing in North Korea, in Iran, or almost anywhere on Earth? The Israeli air force attacked deep in enemy territory, enjoying protection by sophisticated electronic jamming that blinded Syria's air defenses. The Syrian facility was almost identical to the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea that produced plutonium for nuclear bombs, according to Israeli intelligence officials, and it was only weeks away from beginning to produce highly radioactive materials. Deir ez-Zur was captured in 2014 by ISIS forces and held for more than three years. Just imagine if ISIS had gotten its hands on the plutonium. After the revelation in 2003 that Gaddafi's Libya was dangerously advanced in its nuclear work, Israel's military intelligence chiefs increased their efforts to look for a nuclear project in Syria. Mossad operatives broke into an apartment maintained in Vienna by Ibrahim Othman, director of Syria's Atomic Energy Commission, and found a digital device, which they copied. Photos were found showing Othman in the company of some North Korean scientists that were shot inside the structure in Deir ez-Zur, and which clearly revealed that it was a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium.

2018-03-21 00:00:00

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