Destruction of a What?
There’s a fascinating article in Spiegel Online (in English) on Operation Orchard, the operation in September 2007 in Syria in which the Israeli air force destroyed what many have termed a nuclear plant, what the article calls Syria’s Al Kibar nuclear reactor, and the Syrians have characterized as a conventional military facility. Spiegel has interviewed Syrian, Israeli, and American leaders as well as confidential Syrian and Israeli sources to compile a mosaic of espionage, intrigue, assassination, and general international shenanigans.
Was it a nuclear plant, in which scientists were on the verge of completing the bomb? Were North Korean, perhaps even Iranian experts, also working in this secret Syrian facility? When and how did the Israelis learn about the project, and why did they take such a great risk to conduct their clandestine operation? Was the destruction of the Al Kibar complex meant as a final warning to the Iranians, a trial run of sorts intended to show them what the Israelis plan to do if Tehran continues with its suspected nuclear weapons program?
In recent months, SPIEGEL has spoken with key politicians and experts about the mysterious incident in the Syrian desert, including Syrian President Bashar Assad, leading Israeli intelligence expert Ronen Bergman, International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammed ElBaradei and influential American nuclear expert David Albright. SPIEGEL has also talked with individuals involved in the operation, who have only now agreed to reveal, under conditions of anonymity, what they know.
These efforts have led to an account that, while not solving the mystery in its entirety, at least delivers many pieces of the puzzle. It also offers an assessment of an operation that changed the Middle East and generated shock waves that are still being felt today.
The article has enough suggestions, claims, and innuendos to give nearly anyone food for thought at the very least.
The picture above is a satellite image of the facility that was destroyed.