James Forsyth

A nuclear Syria?

A nuclear Syria?
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Perhaps, the oddest event of 2007 was the non-reaction to Israel’s strike on Syria. One would have thought that Israel bombing a target deep inside Syria would have sparked off a major international incident. But it did not. As The Spectator reported at the time the Israelis, the Syrians and the Americans all wanted to draw a veil over the affair.

Finally, though, the Bush administration has released some details about what happened. It seems that what the Israelis hit was a nuclear reactor that had been constructed with North Korean help—you can see the declassified evidence for this claim here. The Americans say that they were unaware of this facility’s existence until the Israelis brought it to their attention, once more showing just how strong Israel’s intelligence capabilities are, and that they did not green light the raid, a break from the two countries' usual no surprises policy.

There are many lessons to be drawn from this affair. But Graham Allison, a Harvard expert on nuclear matters, highlights perhaps the most worrying one, “if you can build a reactor in Syria without being detected for eight years, how hard can it be to sell a little plutonium to Osama bin Laden?”

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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