Sy Hersh confirms: Syrian facility bombed by Israel was not nuclear
After Israel bombed a Syrian military facility last September, the United States and Israel both claimed the target had been a Syrian nuclear facility under construction.
RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna was alone at the time in reporting that the actual target was a cache of North Korean No-Dong missiles, dating back to the 1990's, which Syria was converting for use as chemical warheads.
In a follow-up report, Alexandrovna added that Vice President Dick Cheney was suspected of being behind leaks to the press of misleading claims of a nuclear basis for the incident.
A third story in Alexandrovna's series reported that the US and Israel were refusing to cooperate with an attempted investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but that the IAEA had concluded on the basis of satellite imagery that the target was unlikely to have been nuclear.
However, the US/Israeli version continued to dominate most accounts of the incident. As recently as December, the Sunday Times was still insisting that "Israel's top-secret air raid on Syria in September destroyed a bomb factory assembling warheads fuelled by North Korean plutonium."
Now veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has weighed in on the matter. Hersh appeared on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday to discuss his upcoming article, "A Strike in the Dark," which will appear in the Feb. 11 issue of the New Yorker.
Hersh writes in that article, "Whatever was under construction, with North Korean help, it apparently had little to do with agriculture -- or with nuclear reactors -- but much to do with Syria's defense posture, and its military relationship with North Korea. And that, perhaps, was enough to silence the Syrian government after the September 6th bombing."
"This is a wonderful sort of a complicated story," Hersh told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Here Israel bombs another country, basically an act of war. ... They don't say anything publicly about it. The Israeli great ally, the United States, says nothing. Syria doesn't say much about it. They complain, but they're very muted too. ... Nobody talks about it."
Hersh went on to say that even though nobody was talking publicly, "there was tremendous sotto voce stuff. In other words, the Israeli government, the American government were leaking, telling newspaper people, particularly in America, but also in Europe, all sorts of wonderful, grandiose details about what happened."
Hersh finally concluded as a result of his investigation that the claims that "when you began to look at each part... they sort of fall apart." He is not even convinced the plant was a chemical warfare facility but believes it may have been a missile plant. "Israel may indeed have some evidence that's overwhelming," Hersh stated. "But without that sort of evidence, what they've done is, they've simply bombed another country."
Hersh's best guess as to the motivation of the bombing is that it was partly Israeli politics and partly "a message for the Iranians that we're coming."
Stories by Larisa Alexandrovna about the Israeli raid on Syria:
Israeli air strike did not hit nuclear facility, intelligence officials say, 9/24/07
US intelligence does not show Syrian nuclear weapons program, officials say, 10/18/07
US, Israel refuse to cooperate with inquest into Syria strike, 11/14/07
This video is from CNN's Late Edition, broadcast February 3, 2008.