Israel military admits bombing Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Israeli armed forces released classified images on Wednesday admitting for the first time that it had bombed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria on 6 September 2007.

Eight F-16s and F-15s had taken off from two air bases and dropped 18 tonnes of munitions over a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria’s Deir al-Zor region, about 450 km from Damascus, the capital, said the military.

The reactor, which was being built with North Korean help and funding from Iran, was months away from activation, claimed the authorities.

“The message of the attack on the nuclear reactor in 2007 is that the State of Israel will not allow the establishment of capabilities that threatens Israel’s existence,” military chief of staff Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot said in a statement. “This was our message in 2007, this remains our message today, and will continue to be our message in the near and distant future.”

The country’s intelligence minister, Israel Katz, also tweeted: “The (2007) operation and its success made clear that Israel will never allow nuclear weaponry to be in the hands of those who threaten its existence - Syria then, and Iran today.”

According to the Israeli army, its intelligence had been monitoring the nuclear project in Syria for two years and had feared it would be activated by the end of 2007.

Israel has for years been warily monitoring the situation in Syria, especially the involvement of Iran in the ongoing civil war. It has warned both countries that it would not tolerate an Iranian military presence near the Golan Heights or in areas bordering Israel.