Israel will never let Iran get nuclear weapons

Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 8th Negev Conference in Dimona

Israeli and American intelligence had indicated that Syria's Deir Ezzor site - also known as al-Kibar - housed a gas-cooled, graphite-moderated nuclear reactor capable of manufacturing weapons-grade plutonium, and that it was almost operational when Israel destroyed it under the direction of then-prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Yisrael Katz, Israeli Minister of Transportation who also serves as the Minister of Intelligence, congratulated former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his decision to operate.

Israel abruptly claimed responsibility for a 2007 airstrike that destroyed an unfinished nuclear reactor in Syria, lifting more than a decade of silence to signal it won't let Iran threaten its security. Damascus said that the destroyed complex was a military site under construction.

Part of the reason for the lifting of the reporting ban is that both Ehud Olmert, who was prime minister at the time of the attack, and Ehud Barak, who was his defense minister, have written about the attack and their role in making the decision in their newly published memoirs.

"I don't think anyone needed the censorship approval to know that Israel was behind the attack on the reactor or to think that Israel is not determined to strike Iranian or Hezbollah forces", Dr. Ronen Bergman, a senior correspondent for Military and Intelligence Affairs for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, told reporters Wednesday.

In Iran, where the country was celebrating New Year, there was no immediate reaction to Israel's announcement.

As it happened, the event was first made public by Syria, which, as reported by Reuters at the time, said in the early hours of September 6 that Syrian air defences had repelled an incursion by Israeli warplanes.

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"That's the message from '81, that's the message from 2007 and that's our future message to our enemies".

One, dated March 30, 2007, said: "Syria has set up, within its territory, a nuclear reactor for the production of plutonium, through North Korea, which according to an (initial) worst-case assessment is liable to be activated in approximately another year". Now the Israelis have promised not to permit the appearance of nuclear weapons in Iran and speaks of its readiness, if necessary, to act alone.

On that day, Syria reported that its air defenses had repelled an incursion by Israeli warplanes.

"Israel's policy has been and remains consistent - to prevent our enemies from acquiring nuclear weapons".

The Israeli army announced that a number totaling eight F-16 and F-15 jets raided and bombed the facility believed to be a nuclear reactor located in Syria.

Israeli officials said they did not confirm the strike at the time in order to give Syrian dictator Bashar Assad an opportunity to save face and avoid escalation with Israel, following the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Uzi Rabi, an expert on Iran at Tel Aviv University, said Israel's surprising confirmation might be meant as a "warning sign" to Iran as it builds up its military presence in Syria.

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