Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria, apparently built with North Korea’s help, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said to State Department officials in April 2008, according to Yediot Achronot quoting a recently released cable by Wikileaks.
The cable is the first official confirmation of the incident, and details the intelligence gathered before the attack, the collaboration between the US and Israel, the Israeli government’s move to bomb the Syrian reactor and concern that Syrian President Bashar Assad would retaliate with war, Yedioth Ahronoth reported quoting the cable.
“We have avoided sharing this information with you until now for fear of and in an attempt to avoid a conflict,” Rice says in the cable.
“I would like to inform you that the Israeli attack was aimed at destroying the secret reactor built by Syria in a desert area in the east of the country called al-Kibar,” the cable quotes her as saying. “The Israeli mission was successful – the reactor was destroyed without an option of rehabilitation. Syria completed the site’s evacuation, got rid of the evidence of what existed in the area and set up a new building on the site.”
The former secretary of state added, “We believe, based on solid evidence, that North Korea helped Syria build the reactor – and we have decided that it’s time to share more information on this matter with you,” Yedioth Ahronoth reported, quoting the cable.
Rice also details the intelligence gathered by Israel and the US preceding the attack.
“We have good reason to believe that the reactor was not built for peaceful purposes,” she said in the cable. “First of all, we estimate that it was not designed as a power station, was isolated from populated communities and was not suitable for research purposes.
“Second, Syria took far-reaching steps to keep the real nature of the site secret. Third, by acting secretly and failing to provide representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency with sketches of the site, as required by the agreement it signed, it missed the purpose of means of supervision aimed at providing the international community with the confirmation that the reactor is part of a peaceful plan.”
Based on this intelligence, Rice concluded in the cable that “the hiding and lies spread by Syria in the months after the attack are clear proof that it has something to hide.”