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April 26, 2016 5:18 pm

Former White House Adviser: Thanks to Israel, the US ‘Dodged a Bullet in Syria’

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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North Korean soldiers training in Syria to help defend the regime against American attacks, 2013. Photo:  YouTube/Screenshot.

North Korean soldiers training in Syria to help defend the regime against American attacks, 2013. Photo: YouTube/Screenshot.

The United States “dodged a bullet in Syria… all courtesy of the Israelis,” former US Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security adviser asserted on Monday.

John Hannah, a senior counselor at the DC-based policy institute the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was referring to Operation Orchard, Israel’s September 6, 2007 bombing of the North Korean-built, plutonium-producing nuclear reactor in the town of Al-Kibar, in the desert east of Damascus.

“Not only did [the Israelis] discover [it] in the nick of time,” Hannah wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs. “They also carried out the attack that was almost certainly the only means of ensuring the reactor never went hot.”

In his piece, titled “It’s the Proliferation, Stupid,” Hannah recounted the day he received an urgent call from Cheney “to drop everything and get over to his White House office. The head of Israel’s Mossad, the late Meir Dagan, had just been in to brief Cheney and President [George W.] Bush. What he revealed was chilling: “compelling evidence” that North Korea was covertly building in Syria “more or less a replica” of its own reactor at Yongbyon – and that it was “perilously close to completion.”

“Options for getting rid of it would narrow considerably once operations began and the reactor went ‘hot,’” he continued. “At that point, any effort to destroy it through military strike or covert action would run a high risk of dispersing deadly radioactive materials that could poison thousands of innocent civilians.”

Calling the Syrian civil war a “strategic catastrophe” — after raking the US intelligence community over the coals for having “totally missed Al-Kibar” and being “completely taken aback by Dagan’s stunning revelations” — Hannah added, “[J]ust imagine the nightmare that the world would have faced if, on top of everything else, we were also dealing with the nightmare of the Islamic State getting its hands on a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor.”

Hanna used the story of active North Korean involvement in Syria nine years ago to warn against its behavior today. “The greatest threat we face from [Supreme Leader] Kim Jong Un is probably not a suicidal attack against the United States or our allies in Northeast Asia with nuclear missiles. Rather, the more likely danger is that North Korea’s tyrant sells part of his ever-expanding nuclear arsenal to other rogue actors that mean us harm,” he wrote, going on to identify Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, as particularly worthy of note and monitoring.

As a result of last summer’s nuclear deal, Iran is supposed to restrain its program for the next decade or so, while submitting to greater international scrutiny on its territory. In exchange, it will get tens of billions of dollars in cash and the ability to once again sell as much oil as it can on international markets. For its part, North Korea is cash and oil poor but under no such nuclear restrictions…The potential for synergy between these two rogue states and longtime proliferation partners is more than obvious. Especially in the wake of new U.N. sanctions, Pyongyang is desperate for money and fuel. Iran has ample quantities of both, but needs a place beyond the IAEA’s reach where its nuclear weapons efforts can advance covertly over the next decade…

[W]e’ve had ample warning for decades that almost anything is possible. Pyongyang has more than proven its readiness to sell some of the world’s most dangerous weapons and technology to the world’s most dangerous actors, so long as there is money to be made and no serious chance of meaningful punishment for its transgressions. As the North’s nuclear arsenal grows in size and sophistication, as its economic straits grow more desperate, and as the rhetoric and actions of its mercurial young dictator grows more bellicose and erratic, we should expect the worst from Pyongyang, while acting now to develop the necessary capabilities, strategies, and policies to ensure it never happens.

Israel’s airstrike on the Al-Kibar reactor was carried out during the tenure of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is currently serving a jail sentence for a corruption and bribery case involving his term as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993-2003.

It is only recently that Israel has begun informally to acknowledge conducting the airstrike, which Syria also kept under wraps.

According to Bush’s 2010 memoir, Decision Points, Olmert was “not pleased” with the strategy of the White House, which was to use diplomacy rather than “bomb… a sovereign country with no warning or announced justification.”

Bush wrote: “Prime Minister Olmert hadn’t asked for a green light, and I hadn’t given one. He had done what he believed was necessary to protect Israel.”

This was not the first time that Israel had launched a strike to prevent a nuclear site from going “hot.” On June 7, 1981, under the premiership of the late Menachem Begin, the Israel Air force carried out Operation Babylon, a strike on a nuclear reactor in Iraq. The attack was harshly criticized by the United States under President Ronald Reagan and condemned by the UN Security Council.

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  • jakob wasi

    You’re not serious.

  • Paul Saunders

    Well thats the thing Yisrael will do what it must to protect us and the world.. Even if it gets no mention at all or till later. Other Countries that are smart should just have the balls and do it thats it thats all. Peace Shalom. Don’t tell or wait just do as they say. There is no CAN’t

  • no special comment

  • LEO

    The Iranians may not have HOT Plutonium but they certainly have very HOT Uranium 235 and I don’t mean 20% HOT. Given the tens of thousands of top of the range centrifuges they have and the couple of thousand latest high tech centrifuges they have also been spinning for so many years, I am as certain as I can be that Iran has more than sufficient highly enriched weapons grade Uranium to make a series of nuclear weapons. Iran is a massive country and this material could be hidden away somewhere underground where it would never be located. Why am I so certain, Pakistan enriched sufficient weapons grade Uranium for its arsenal of nukes with only 6000 centrifuges of a much, much earlier vintage than those in use in Iran. Despite the lies put about by Western politicians, particularly the White House which has determined that Iran should be the Hegemon of the Middle East and British politicians who have lied to Parliament claiming that the Akar Reactor was only a research facility when any 1st year Physics student could tell them that the Akar reactor is a Breeder Reactor, whose sole purpose is to convert Uranium 238 to weapons grade Plutonium as well as having the ability to produce Tritium,the most effective Neutron emitter for use as a trigger for nuclear weapons. Since the Akar didn’t quite come on line, only just, the Iranians will have to do with Polonium 210 as a neutron trigger. This, as every scientist knows, has been produced in the Tehran Reactor which again lying politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have informed their gullible people is only a research reactor to produce medical isotopes. Polonium is not as effective a trigger as Tritium but it will do. Where we go from here, God knows!!!

  • “Piss on them and tell them it’s raining.” Wrote the presstitute.

  • If the US unlike Israel, would not be as gutless as they are, especially under OBAMA, we would not be in a position as we are now with Iran. Israel was ready to destroy the Iranian Nuclear facilities but not only were stopped by OBAMA and Hillary Clinton, Israel was actually warned that the US would shoot down any plane trying to execute what was necessary for an operation like this.

    SO rather then supporting Israel, OBAMA just created another North Korea in Iran making the Middle East and the world more unstable!!!

  • chava

    The necessary destruction of the Al-Kibar nuclear reactor in Sept., 2007 by the Israel Defense Forces was [1]not just an airstrike and, [2], revealed North Korea’s probable role in developing the site.
    Partly as a demand of Condaleeza Rice, her name should be erased, who reportedly demanded proof that the site was developing nuclear weaponry material, Israeli commandos entered the site and one Jewish young commando died a horrible death and several others suffer lingering effects as a result of nuclear contamination.
    It has been reported with certainty that the commandos met up with Asians in the site.

  • Peter Joffe

    You cannot negotiate with terrorists as they take it a sign of weakness. Every little thing they achieve through talking, just makes them bolder to get more. Obama is the worlds leading terrorist and squashes all descent in the fight to destroy this Islamic curse that he is helping to introduce to the world in general and the USA in particular. Open your minds and imagine what a world Islamic caliphate would look like? If you cant do that. Go to the history of Islam and see that as the future of the world in the 21st Century.

  • Norton Rosenberg

    Israel is ALWAYS CRITICIZED, however it is the ONLY COUNTRY doing the DIRTY WORK for the rest of the world… not fear UNCLE SAM – ISRAEL HAS YOUR BACK.

    • David Ivie

      Well said. Gd Almighty is still in control. Satan and his minions are busy. A lot of Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes. We know how this ends. And it isn’t the bad guys.