Israel’s September 6th operation in Syria, shrouded in mystery and surrounded by rumors, was the destruction of a nuclear reactor that was being built, the New York Times reports Sunday.
Citing unnamed “American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports,” the Times writes, “Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project in a neighboring state” – a reference to Iran.
According to the report, Bush administration officials were divided about the strike, believing the attack was premature, as the facility would not have been operational for years.
The Times also confirmed that Israel proved to the US that North Korea assisted Syria in its nuclear program. The British press reported early on that elite Israeli reconnaissance forces, dressed as Syrian military, gathered nuclear materials as evidence, prior to the strike.
“North Korea has long provided assistance to Syria on a ballistic missile program, but any assistance toward the construction of the reactor would have been the first clear evidence of ties between the two countries on a nuclear program,” the report says. “North Korea has successfully used its five-megawatt reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex to reprocess nuclear fuel into bomb-grade material, a model that some American and Israeli officials believe Syria may have been trying to replicate.
“In apparent confirmation that Israel was right when it said that North Korea had set up nuclear facilities in Syria, a high level North Korean delegation arrived in Syria Saturday for a visit. U.S. intelligence sources said that the delegation was visiting to inspect the facility destroyed in the Israeli raid last month.”
The report quotes an unnamed Israeli official saying the attack was meant to “re-establish the credibility of our deterrent power.”
The New York Times report is not accepted in all circles. Unnamed sources in the IDF say that Israel's northern enemy was about to launch a massive missile strike on Israel's populace, and the IDF's surprise invasion struck Syrian missile capability. Senior Syrian military figures were killed in the attack, according to the source.