Hersh: Israel pressed me to agree Syrian site was nuclear
Muriel Kane
Published: Friday February 8, 2008

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A new article by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh offers a detailed examination of the claims that Israel bombed a nuclear facility under construction in Syria last September and finds that none of the evidence stands up to scrutiny.

According to Hersh, "A former senior U.S. intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, said, 'We don't have any proof of a reactor ó no signals intelligence, no human intelligence, no satellite intelligence.'" However, Hersh found that the Israelis were continuing to stand adamantly by their claims:

"When I went to Israel in late December, the government was still maintaining secrecy about the raid, but some current and former officials and military officers were willing to speak without attribution. Most were adamant that Israelís intelligence had been accurate. 'Donít you write that there was nothing there!' a senior Israeli official, who is in a position to know the details of the raid on Syria, said, shaking a finger at me. 'The thing in Syria was real.'"

Just one Israeli official expressed doubts, but also brushed them away:

"Retired Brigadier General Shlomo Brom, who served as deputy national-security adviser under Prime Minister Ehud Barak, told me that Israel wouldnít have acted if it hadnít been convinced that there was a threat. 'It may have been a perception of a conviction, but there was something there,' Brom said. 'It was the beginning of a nuclear project.' However, by the date of our talk, Brom told me, 'The question of whether it was there or not is not that relevant anymore.'"

One Syrian official suggested to Hersh that the Israelis may have picked up the presence of North Korean laborers at the site and drawn their own conclusions. "'The Israelis may have their own spies and watched the laborers being driven to the area,' the senior officer said. 'The Koreans were not there at night, but slept in their quarters and were driven to the site in the morning. The building was in an isolated area, and the Israelis may have concluded that even if there was a slight chance' ó of it being a nuclear facility ó 'we'll take that risk.'"

RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna reported last fall that current and former intelligence privately agreed the Syrian facility was not nuclear in nature. Hersh's article is the first major mainstream confirmation of that reporting.