Tenth Anniversary of a Secret Airstrike: Israel Kept Nukes Away from Dictator and ISIS

It was 10 years ago that Israel, without announcing it or even acknowledging it officially since, destroyed a nuclear reactor that was under construction in a remote part of northeastern Syria.  The CIA would, months later, confirm that North Koreans were helping Syria build a facility to produce plutonium that could be used in nuclear bombs.

Syria's Reactor, Before and After the Israeli Airstrike of September 2007

Syria’s Reactor, Before and After the Israeli Airstrike of September 2007

If you think about the geography: The site that was flattened was half-way between Raqqa and Deir es-Zur, two towns that have formed the core of ISIS power in Syria.  If the nuclear project had been built, had gone hot, and perhaps even produced massively lethal weapons, the terrorists of ISIS probably would have captured them.

Even if that hadn’t occurred, the dictator Bashar al-Assad would have nuclear weapons by now.  Who knows what he would have done with them?  He did, after all, use chemical weapons against his own people.

The international community is often critical of Israel for its occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. Indeed, some of Israel’s harsh measures against Palestinian civilians and violations of human rights may deserve to be deplored. But at the same time, Israel deserves the credit and the gratitude of the civilized world for preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of brutal dictators and terrorists.

What if Israel’s leaders in 2007 hadn’t had the courage to order the airstrike?

So, thank you to Israel for eliminating that threat.  Thanks, also, to Israel for destroying Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in Baghdad in June 1981 – at the time, the longest-range bombing raid ever by Israel’s air force.  That prevented Iraq from becoming a nuclear power.

Two footnotes: Iraq’s retaliation against Israel didn’t become visible until 1991.  During the first Gulf War, after the United States invaded Iraq to force Saddam to get out of Kuwait, he launched Scud missiles at Israel.  His more complex goal was to draw the Israelis into that war, because then President George H.W. Bush’s Arab allies might quit the U.S.-led coalition.  The invisible Iraqi retaliation was Saddam’s continuing support for anti-Israel terrorist groups.

The other footnote has to do with Israel’s continuing refusal to acknowledge that it did the world a favor by flattening Syria’s reactor.  Almost everything in Israel is politicized, so there is a strong suspicion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to see Ehud Olmert (since imprisoned for corruption) and his national security team from 2007 – including the late Mossad chief Meir Dagan and a senior Labor Party man Amir Peretz – hailed as heroes.  By preventing publication of confirmed details, which could be attributed to air force, intelligence, and government officials in Israel, the military censor’s office makes it appear as though it is helping Netanyahu preserve his shrouded, misty version of events.

September 4, 2017

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