In September of 2007, Israeli warplanes carried out a major attack against a site in the Syrian desert. A few months later, US officials commented, claiming the site to be an in-construction Syrian nuclear reactor, which the Bush Administration accused North Korea of being behind.
On Wednesday, Israel ended a decade-long silence on the attack with a report, confirming it was in keeping with Israel’s policy of destroying foreign nuclear facilities in the region. This was presented in the context of threatening to attack Iran.
It’s not clear what the impact of this admission will be, as everyone knew Israel carried out the attack long ago. That attack, according to former IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei, was in violation of international law. It also made it really hard to prove Syria had a secret, illegal reactor, since Israel blew it up and didn’t tell anybody until it was already a smoldering hole in the ground.
Nowadays, Israel attacks Syria so often that such a strike hardly matters anymore from the perspective of their bilateral relations. It is, however, fueling new allegations of secret Syrian nuclear facilities elsewhere in the country, with the same lack of evidence surrounding the 2007 site.
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