Israel’s strike on Syria — nuclear materials from North Korea?

| October 8, 2007

I’ve been following the coverage (little as there is) about Israel’s strike on an Syrian military site back on September 6th. There are several remarkable aspects to the strike and its aftermath:

  • Israeli jets flew all the way across Syria to the site in question — which is by the Turkish border — and back without being detected, much less intercepted, in spite of Syria having brand new Russian-made air defense systems.
  • Syria’s response to this apparently unprovoked attack was, in effect, limited to saying “Why, I oughta…” and that was it.
  • The rest of the Middle East — never great fans of Israel — said and did even less.
  • There have been few leaks to the media about the nature and purpose of the mission.

That seems to be changing a bit. This multi-page article in the Spectator (UK) lays out in more detail what has been bubbling up elsewhere: that Syria had received some form of nuclear materials and/or technology from an outside source, and that Israel pre-emptively took it out:

According to American sources, Israeli intelligence tracked a North Korean vessel carrying a cargo of nuclear material labelled ‘cement’ as it travelled halfway across the world. On 3 September the ship docked at the Syrian port of Tartous and the Israelis continued following the cargo as it was transported to the small town of Dayr as Zawr, near the Turkish border in north-eastern Syria.

The destination was not a complete surprise. It had already been the subject of intense surveillance by an Israeli Ofek spy satellite, and within hours a band of elite Israeli commandos had secretly crossed into Syria and headed for the town. Soil samples and other material they collected there were returned to Israel. Sure enough, they indicated that the cargo was nuclear.

Three days after the North Korean consignment arrived, the final phase of Operation Orchard was launched. With prior approval from Washington, Israeli F151 jets were scrambled and, minutes later, the installation and its newly arrived contents were destroyed.

Read the whole thing. ..bruce..

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Category: Geopolitics, Main, Military

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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