Assad Mum on New Israeli Disclosures Regarding 2007 Attack on Syrian Reactor

Jack Khoury
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Syrian President Bashar Assad
Frame grab from a video released March, 18, 2018 by the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency showing President Bashar Assad driving himself to newly captured areas near Damascus. Credit: Syrian Presidency Facebook page via AP
Jack Khoury

The Syrian regime refrained on Wednesday from commenting officially on Israel’s disclosure of previously classified information about the Israel Air Force’s destruction of a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. The official Syrian stance has been a sweeping denial that the reactor, which was built with North Korean assistance, was a nuclear military facility.

Al Mayadeen, a television station identified with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, did report on the Israeli disclosures and quoted Israeli media outlets at length. The station said the aim of disclosing the information was to send a message to Iran that Israel is capable of acting alone against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hezbollah’s Al Manar television station also reported on the disclosures, relying on Israeli sources.

Lebanon’s Al Jadid television made reference to comments by Syrian journalist Ghassan Jawad, who said the release of the information by Israel can be viewed as another step in Israel’s psychological warfare against Syria that is being led by the United States and its allies. The aim, according to Jawad, is to highlight the issue of nuclear weapons and, more broadly, unconventional weaponry as a pretext for carrying out additional attacks in Syria. In addition, Jawad said, the disclosures are an attempt to calm the civilian population in Israel and convey the message that Israel can contend with strategic challenges.

>> No longer a secret: How Israel destroyed Syria's nuclear reactor ■ The intelligence failure: It took years for Israel to discover the Syrian reactor ■ The real fallout from Israel's 2007 attack on the Syrian reactor ■ Israeli strike on Syrian nuclear reactor: Battle of the memoirs >> 

A member of the Syrian parliament, Jamal al-Zoubi, acknowledged the existence of the nuclear facility at the time of 2007 attack, but told Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Wednesday that it was being used only for scientific purposes. Israel, he added, has always managed to prevent countries that oppose it from acquiring strategic weapons, but also blocked them from developing the capacity for scientific advancement for peaceful purposes, and several Arab countries are assisting Israel in these efforts. Israel and the United States would continue to claim that there are other sites or facilities that justify additional attacks in Syria, Zoubi said.

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