Syrian 'Nukes': Proliferation or Disinformation?

October 04, 2007 01:44 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Amid the conjecture regarding the recent Israeli air strike on Syria, conflicting unofficial reports warn of nuclear proliferation or a repeat of the intelligence failures made in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

30-Second Summary

Oct. 2—The Israeli military confirmed for the first time that its air force attacked a Syrian target almost a month earlier, on Sept. 6.

Israel has still not given a motive for the raid, an omission that has inspired a number of theories.

One of the first explanations to gain credence was that the planes struck an arms cache intended for the militant Islamic organization Hezbollah, in Lebanon.

It has also been suggested that the incursion was a test of Syria’s air defenses or a dry run for an attack on Iran.

On Sept. 18, a former editor of The Jerusalem Post, writing in The Wall Street Journal, judged that the idea that the target was nuclear technology from North Korea was the likeliest scenario offered so far.

Five days later the Times of London added more speculative details to that scenario, alleging that Israeli commandos went into Syria to collect evidence of a nuclear weapons facility before the Sept. 6 raid.

Other commentators have been more reluctant to endorse the idea that North Korea has been supplying Syria with nuclear technology.

BBC world affairs correspondent Nick Childs surmises that certain parties in the United States and Israel are using the allegation to “peddle their own political agendas—for example, to unnerve Syria or Iran.”

Analysts at the BBC, The New York Times, and have drawn comparisons between the current claims about Syrian WMDs and the spread of faulty intelligence on Iraq before the U.S.–led invasion.

Whatever prompted it, Israel’s attack on Syria offers an object lesson in the geopolitical complexity of events in the Middle East.

Headline Links: Israel confirms attack on Syria

Reactions: Bashar al-Assad; Mohamed ElBaradie

Background: The air strike to the present

Opinion and Analysis: Proliferation or Disinformation?

Warning against Disinformation
Warning against Proliferation

History: Osirak and previous Israeli attacks on Syria

On June 7, 1981 Israeli planes bombed a French-built Iraqi nuclear facility, Osirak, just outside of Baghdad. Israel claimed at the time that Iraq intended to use the reactor, ostensibly created to supply energy, to produce nuclear weapons. The recent Israeli attack on Syria is reminiscent of that earlier preemptive strike, and has also prompted speculation that this incident foreshadows a planned attack on Iran.
Israel's '03 attack on Syria

October 5, 2003 was last time Israel launched an air strike on a Syrian target. The attack hit what Israel claimed was a training camp for terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad.

Reference Material: Syria, Israel and Hezbollah


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