Israel admits attacking Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Israel tells Middle East to heed its 2007 strike on suspected Syria reactor

The Israeli military on Wednesday confirmed that it was behind an airstrike in Syria in 2007 that destroyed what it had believed to be a nuclear reactor. "The operation successfully removed an emerging existential threat to Israel and to the entire region-Syrian nuclear capabilities". The military released declassified operational footage, photographs and intelligence documents about the operation.

Black and white aerial images showed a box-like construction close to the Euphrates river in the desert, while video showed the structure exploding in a cloud of smoke following a countdown by a male voice.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also repeatedly called for the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran to be changed or eliminated.

Israel's intelligence minister, Yisrael Katz, made a direct warning to Iran in a tweet on Wednesday morning, saying the raid provided a clear message that Israel would not allow "nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence".

Israel never took official responsibility for the attack, though details of the strike were speculated in the media.

Israel said in its new disclosures that secrecy surrounding the strike was necessary due to the sensitive security situation.

"The motivation of our enemies has grown in recent years, but so too the might of the (Israel Defence Forces)", he said.

In 2011, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukia Amano, said for the first time that the target destroyed by Israeli warplanes was the covert site of a future nuclear reactor.

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Syria had denied it was building a nuclear reactor but the United Nations nuclear watchdog said the site was "very likely" to be a nuclear reactor and the North Koreans could have been helping to build it.

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

Syria, which has joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has denied this.

Israel is not a signatory to the NPT and has long refused to confirm or deny reports by foreign governments that it holds nuclear weapons.

One reason could be the upcoming memoir of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who ordered the strike.

Israel has expressed growing concern over what it sees as Iran's attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria.

According to Air force commander Major General Amikam Norkin, the strike has been vindicated by the conflict and chaos in Syria, as the reactor was in an area that was later under the control of Islamic State.


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