(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IAF air strike in Syria last month targeted what US and Israeli intelligence analysts believed was a partially constructed nuclear reactor modeled on a reactor used by North Korea to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, the New York Times reported on Sunday morning.
While the attack was reminiscent of the IAF raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, the facility that Israel struck in Syria appears to have been much further from completion, the Times quoted American and foreign officials as saying.
The Times quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the strike was intended to "reestablish the credibility of our deterrent power."
According to the report, the American and foreign officials would not say whether they believed the North Koreans sold or gave the plans to the Syrians, or whether North Korea's own experts were there at the time of the attack.
The report, which was attributed to American and foreign officials with intelligence access, also alleged that the Bush administration was divided over the decision to carry out an air strike. According to the officials, policymakers did not view the attack as urgent because it would have been years before the Syrians could have used the reactor to produce enough nuclear fuel to create bomb-grade plutonium.
Israel has kept the details of the air strike secret, refusing until last week to even confirm that such a mission had been carried out. Reports said that the strike had been executed in tandem with a ground operation by IDF special forces, which reportedly confiscated weapons-related materials shortly before IAF planes attacked.
A recent article in The Washington Post claimed that the raid came after Israel and the US shared intelligence about possible nuclear weapons developments in Syria. According to some sources, North Korean weapons experts had been in Syria in the months before the raid.
While both Syria and North Korea have denied that they are cooperating on weapons development, representatives of the two nations met recently in North Korea to discuss "strengthening ties."