Israel confirms it destroyed Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Photos: IDF Spokespersons Unit, Syrian nuclear reactor before and after, 2018.

Israel officially confirmed it destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 following a decade-long military censor.

Israel’s military censor cleared the story for publication on Wednesday, Israel for the first time publicly confirming it destroyed the Assad regime’s nuclear reactor between the 5-6th of September 2007.

The operation was called “Operation Orchard” and began sometime in 2004 when the IDF and Mossad began collecting evidence and intelligence on the construction of a nuclear facility in the Deir al-Zor region of Syria, around 250 miles from Damascus.

Following Libya’s announcement it would end its nuclear program in 2003, the Mossad began global intelligence gathering on nuclear efforts. Evidence surfaced that North Korea was assisting Assad’s regime in creating a nuclear facility to manufacture and build a “gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor… capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.” The facility was disguised as farm and construction began sometime in 2005.

In March of 2007, the IDF reported that “Syria has set up, within its territory, a nuclear reactor for the production of plutonium, through North Korea, which according to an initial worst-case assessment is liable to be activated in approximately another year.”

On September 5, 2007, the Israel Air Force entered Syrian airspace through Turkey, using technology to “blind the enemy’s screens” to avoid detection. Four Israeli jets dropped 17 tons of explosives on the reactor destroying it. The mission lasted a total of four hours.

The IDF Spokespersons Unit confirmed Wednesday morning after over a decade of silence, “For two years, officials in the Military Intelligence Directorate had been monitoring the Syrian nuclear project. Their intelligence suggested that the facility would become active toward the end of 2007, which prompted the IDF to initiate an attack on the facility. The Israeli Air Force had very little time to prepare the attack and account for possible contingencies, such as retaliation by the Syrian forces. Once the attack plan was ready, however, it was possible to execute it within 12 hours from the moment the order was to be given.”

Specifically on the attack, the IDF confirmed that on September 5, 2007 “Shortly after midnight, the Prime Minister [Olmert], Defense Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief of the General Staff, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate and Head of the Operations Directorate assembled in the aerial war room. From there, they attentively followed all aircraft’s aerial locations and the communication systems. Two fighter jets, F-16 and F-15, left the base at 10:30 pm and flew low to stay undetected. The whole operation took four hours.”

The IDF confirmed its forces were prepared for a retaliation from Assad’s regime. There were no attacks, the IDF confirming the mission’s success as “The nuclear facility was destroyed and an escalation in the region prevented.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to the release of reports this morning, stating “The motivation of our enemies has grown in recent years, but so too the might of the IDF. Everyone in the Middle East would do well to internalize this equation.”

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, March 21, 2018, and reposted with permission.