Israel admits Syrian ‘nuke reactor’ strike

TEL AVIV: Israel admitted for the first time on Wednesday it was responsible for a top-secret 2007 air raid against a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor. Israel has long been assumed to have carried out the raid and had been named by other countries as being behind it, but it had never formally acknowledged the strike or divulged details.
The admission along with the release of newly declassified material related to the raid comes as Israel intensifies its warnings over the presence of foreign forces in neighbouring Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also repeatedly called for a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran to be changed or eliminated. US President Donald Trump, who met Netanyahu at the White House this month, has said that the nuclear deal must be “fixed” by May 12 or the United States will walk away.
After Wednesday’s acknowledgement, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the raid should serve as a message for “everyone in the Middle East.”
Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz was more explicit, saying it showed Israel would never allow nuclear weapons to be obtained by “countries who threaten its existence.”
The declassified material includes footage of the strike and pictures of secret army intelligence communiques about the site. A statement lays out the case for why Israel carried out the strike at the desert site in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria on what it says was a nuclear reactor under construction.
Syria has denied it was building a nuclear reactor.
“On the night between September 5-6, 2007, Israeli Air Force fighter jets successfully struck and destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in development,” the Israeli statement says.
“The reactor was close to being completed. The operation successfully removed an emerging existential threat to Israel and the region.” — Reuters