In the latest warning to Iran that it means business, Israel has released a video of an airstrike it conducted on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. Until this week, Israel refused to officially acknowledge the operation for over a decade.
For the first time ever, 10 years later, the IAF reveals to the world a key operation to de-escalate conflict in the region. Could keep a secret like this?— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) March 21, 2018
Read more: https://t.co/UStChpKLdm
"During the night of September 5th and 6th, 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a nuclear facility in its last stages of construction in the Deir ez-Zor region in Syria, 280 miles north-east of Damascus," reads a statement from the IDF. "Four F-16 jets eliminated a nuclear threat not only to Israel, but to the entire region."
The IDF released previously classified footage, images and intelligence documents from the operation - revealing how Israel monitored the site before the attack, suggesting that it could become operational within months.
One report, dated 30 March 2007, said: “Syria has set up, within its territory, a nuclear reactor for the production of plutonium, through North Korea, which according to an (initial) worst-case assessment is liable to be activated in approximately another year.”
The military said that following the four-hour operation, the reactor “had been totally disabled”, and the damage done “was irreversible”. -The Guardian
Israel said that the decision to strike the alleged nuclear facility was based on information from the Military Intelligence Directorate, which had been monitoring the site for two years.
The black and white aerial images from the Syrian desert show a box-shaped structure close to the Euphrates river. The video shows the structure's demise.
Syria, a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty since 1968, has consistently denied that it has pursued a nuclear weapons program - and said that the Dier ez-Zor facility was non-operational and contained no nuclear material.
Media reports at the time posited that it was an undeclared reactor being built by North Korea - however following its bombing, the nuclear watchdog IAEA concluded that the complex resembled a reactor building, and pointed the finger at the Syrian government for a lack of transparency.
On Wednesday morning, Israel's intelligence minister, Yisrael Katz, directly warned Iran that the reactor raid in Syria provided a clear message that "Israel will never allow nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence."
The courageous decision of the Israeli government almost 11 years ago to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria and the successful operation following it sends a clear message:— ישראל כץ Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) March 21, 2018
Israel will never allow nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence.
The defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, stopped short of suggesting the possibility of a similar strike on Iranian facilities, but made clear the 2007 attack proved Israel was willing and able to act militarily. -The Guardian
“The motivation of our enemies has grown in recent years, but so too the might of the (Israel Defence Forces),” he said. “Everyone in the Middle East would do well to internalize this equation.”
Israel sought to further justify the strike, noting that ISIS had captured the region with the reactor in it during Syria's civil war.
“The security implications of a nuclear reactor falling into the hands of Isis or other extremist groups during the war in Syria are vast,” said the IDF.
As a reminder, in September 2016 in the aftermath of Obama's Iran Deal, Russia started construction of a new, $10 billion nuclear power plant in Iran. Iran already runs one Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr, its first. Russia signed a deal with Iran in 2014 to build up to eight more reactors in the country. Or maybe not, as Israel has made it clear it will never allow this to happen.