Pardo: Attack on Syria nuclear base success, failure and complete luck

Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo discussed the 2007 attack on Syria’s nuclear program.

March 22, 2018 07:48
2 minute read.
Mossad chief Tamir Pardo

Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel’s 2007 attack on Syria’s nuclear program was a combination of major intelligence successes, great failures, and complete luck, former Mossad director Tamir Pardo said on Wednesday.

Pardo made the comments at the Netanya Academic College Meir Dagan conference, honoring the legendary late Mossad chief.

Regarding the great success, he said that because of the information “that the Mossad obtained and only because we got this information, did Israel know there was a nuclear [reactor] core, and could the attack be approved.”
Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Norkin on 2007 Attack on Syrian Nuclear Reactor Site (Reuters)

He was referring to photographs that the Mossad obtained on activities going on inside the Syrian nuclear facility.

With regard to the great failures and luck, Pardo said, “On one hand, there was an echoing failure to detect the nuclear core for an extended period. On the other hand, there was complete luck in finding the nuclear core in a place no one would have expected.”

Pardo complimented Dagan for tremendous successes both in delaying Iran’s nuclear progress and in activities that helped pressure it to come to the negotiating table – though he added that the West should have waited another year or two before striking a deal with Iran.

Addressing threats and major geopolitical moves in the region, Pardo said, “We’re in a revolution. The world is flat,” adding that when defining the place of powers such as the US and Russia, it is difficult to be accurate.

He added that former US president George W. Bush’s 2003 Iraq war was still “a major cause” of states imploding and general self-destruction in the Middle East. He contrasted that war with “the very smart,” more limited operation of president George H.W. Bush in 1991.

“How would the world look different without that [2003] war? It’s hard to say,” he said rhetorically.

Next, Pardo said Israel faces players and threats such as Hezbollah, Iran, Shi’ite militias, Russia and Turkey.

Crucially, he said that analysts must see global interconnectedness. “What happens in the South China Sea impacts the Golan,” and the vast “number of players” makes intelligence forecasts very difficult.

He advocated a gray and complex worldview regarding interacting with other states. “With Russia we have big overlapping interests, but also they threaten us,” Pardo said.

Other states and Israel need to be smart enough to take advantage of overlaps of interests with countries like Russia, while working with allies to resist threats – sometimes pursuing those policies simultaneously vis-a-vis the same state.

Pardo blasted what he called the traditional Israeli geopolitical view of foreign countries that you are either our “blood brothers and 100% allies, or you are my enemy and in my crosshairs.”

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