Former President George W. Bush confirms in his memoir that the target of a 2007 Israeli airstrike was a Syrian nuclear reactor and suggests...
JERUSALEM — Former President George W. Bush confirms in his memoir that the target of a 2007 Israeli airstrike was a Syrian nuclear reactor and suggests he quietly approved — a revelation with special relevance at a time when Israel is calling for a “military option” against Iran’s nuclear program.
Bush said the raid showed the Jewish state would go it alone and revealed that Israel first asked the U.S. to bomb the site.
The Sept. 6, 2007, airstrike in Syria remains one of Israel’s deepest secrets of recent times. Syria announced at the time that its airspace had been invaded but gave no details. Israel has never commented on the operation.
But in “Decision Points,” published this week, Bush provides the strongest confirmation yet of reports that citing experts and unidentified U.S. intelligence officials that Israel hit a nuclear reactor being built with North Korean assistance.
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Bush writes that in spring 2007 U.S. officials strongly suspected that Syria, a bitter enemy of Israel, had been caught “red-handed trying to develop a nuclear-weapons capability with North Korean help.” This was based on photos obtained by a foreign-intelligence partner of a suspicious building in eastern Syria.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked the president “to bomb the compound,” Bush writes.
In 1981, Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor being built in Iraq, and Israeli leaders have warned that “all options are on the table” with Iran. Through a spokesman, Olmert declined to comment on Tuesday, as did the Israeli military and Syrian officials. Syria denies it has any nuclear ambitions and claims the site was an unused military installation.
Israel, like much of the West, believes that Iran is developing nuclear weapons — a claim that Iran disputes.
Diplomats said the U.N. Security Council was preparing Tuesday to release a long-delayed report alleging that North Korea may have transferred ballistic missile and nuclear technology to Syria, Iran and Myanmar, according to diplomats.
The 75-page report, whose release has been blocked for six months by China, an ally of North Korea, reinforces U.S. claims that North Korea has emerged as a key supplier of banned-weapons materials.