Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in an air raid just weeks before it went online in 2007, said a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks and published on Friday in an Israeli daily.
“On September 6, 2007, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor built by Syria secretly, apparently with North Korea’s help,” then US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice wrote in the cable published in Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
“Our intelligence experts are convinced that the attack targeted by the Israelis is in fact an atomic reactor of the same type built by North Korea in Yongbyon,” she wrote in the message dated April 2008.
“We have good reason to believe that the reactor was not built for peaceful purposes,” she said, adding the attack came only weeks before the reactor was to become operational.
Rice also noted the secrecy surrounding the construction of the nuclear facility, with the Syrian authorities refusing to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency or any media to inspect the site.
Syria has always denied that the structure targeted by Israeli warplanes was a nuclear reactor, although it has admitted it was a “military site under construction.”
Israel has for its part never denied that its air force attacked a target in Syria, without ever officially claiming responsibility for the action.
Former US president George W Bush recounted in his memoirs that he resisted Israeli pressure to bomb the site.
In 2008, current US President Barack Obama said when he was a Democratic hopeful for the White House that Israel was right to bomb the suspected nuclear facility in Syria.