James Jeffrey (L) speaks during a ceremony for the US military to retire its ceremonial flags, signifying the end of military presence in Iraq, at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center in Baghdad December 15, 2011.
(photo credit: LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
James Jeffrey, a former senior American diplomat and Middle East expert, gave his recollections from the 2007 Israeli bombing of Syrian President Bashar Assad's nuclear reactor in an interview with Army Radio Wednesday morning.
In the interview, Jeffrey commented on the close cooperation between the US and Israel at the time, and on the supportive relationship between former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and former US president George W. Bush.
"The Israeli authorities had been working with the US government for months before the site was struck," he began. "We kept the information absolutely controlled within the US so there would be no leaks to the media."
"Very early it was clear to us that this was a North Korean enabled plutonium enrichment reactor that was clearly designed to advance a nuclear weapons program."
Jeffrey stated that president Bush was "very supportive" of the operation, and that had any threats against Israel arisen as a result of the military operation "We would stand with Israel."
As for the aftereffects of the strike, Jeffrey believes that it had a deterring effect on other countries' nuclear plans:
"Everybody in the region saw that if you are trying to get an illicit nuclear weapons program and you come very close - we're talking about weeks, if not sooner, in the Syria case - it is quite possible that you will be facing military actions. I think this had a significant effect on Iran's calculations, and possibly other countries' calculations."
"We've seen exactly how the Syrian government uses weapons of mass destruction when it can. It is responsible for the deaths of 400k and the displacement of over 10 million people. It was a blessing for the Middle East and for humanity that the reactor was destroyed."
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