Apr. 26, 2016
The World Dodged a Bullet in Syria – Thanks to Israel – John Hannah (Foreign Policy)
- I well remember the day in spring 2007 when I got an urgent call from Vice President Cheney. The head of Israel’s Mossad, the late Meir Dagan, had just been in to brief Cheney and President Bush. He revealed compelling evidence that in the Syrian desert east of Damascus, near the town of Al-Kibar, North Korea was covertly building a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor. It was more or less a replica of the North’s own reactor at Yongbyon.
- Making matters worse, Al-Kibar was perilously close to completion. Options for getting rid of it would narrow considerably once operations began and the reactor went “hot.” For its part, the U.S. intelligence community had totally missed Al-Kibar.
- The fact is that the U.S. dodged a bullet in Syria – and, it’s worth stressing, all courtesy of the Israelis. Not only did they discover Al-Kibar in the nick of time. They also carried out the attack that was almost certainly the only means of ensuring the reactor never went hot.
- Just imagine the nightmare that the world would have faced if, on top of everything else in Syria, we were also dealing with the nightmare of the Islamic State getting its hands on a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor.
The writer, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2005 to 2009.