Israel on Alert: Secret Nuclear Plant in the Crosshairs

Israel's top secret nuclear reactor in Dimona was placed on "red alert" last week, according to the British Sunday Times.

Hana Levi Julian ,

Dimona nuclear reactor satellite photo
Dimona nuclear reactor satellite photo

The missile defense system at Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor is on high alert due to concerns that Syria might target it in an attack. Israeli officials say the Dimona facility is "on the top of [Syria's] list."

According to a report published in the British Sunday Times, the Dimona nuclear reactor was placed on red alert 30 times last week.

Israel's Air Force tracks all aircraft in neighboring Arab states, said the unnamed Israeli sources quoted in the British Sunday Times, and is ready to launch a defensive strike within seconds if an unidentified or enemy aircraft attempts to approach Dimona.

Foreign media first reported the September 6th Israeli attack on Syrian soil hours after Syria filed an official complaint that Israeli aircraft had violated its air space and dropped bombs in an uninhabited area.

It was later reported that Israel had attacked a nuclear facility that showed signs of having been built by North Korean scientists, and that an unnamed U.S. official had said "Israelis obtained many detailed pictures of the facility from the ground."

A report in the New York Times in October claimed the facility was without doubt a nuclear reactor and was at least four years old. The paper published a satellite photo dated from 2003 that clearly showed a structure on the site Israel allegedly bombed that had been taken prior to the attack.

On October 2, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the Israeli Air Force attacked at least one target deep inside Syrian territory. Information regarding what was hit, exactly when and how remains classified.

Despite a flurry of foreign reports about the affair, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter insisted last week that Syrian leaders are ready to negotiate an agreement with Israel. Foreign media were the first to report that a Syrian nuclear reactor had indeed existed and that Syria eventually admitted the reactor's existence in its complaint about Israel's alleged attack – albeit later retracted. They also emphasized, as did Israeli media by then, Israel's closemouthed response to reports that the Air Force had destroyed the facility.

In a speech at the Saban Forum in Jerusalem, Dichter questioned whether Israel or the United States were as "mentally prepared" for peace as Syria.

Dichter was heavily criticized earlier in the year for suggesting that Israel give up the strategic Golan Heights in exchange for Syrian promises of peace.