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Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday described the Israeli decision to destroy a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 as "historic and brave".

The reactor, believed to have been built with North Korean designs and materials, was created to produce weapons-grade plutonium for Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad to develop a nuclear arsenal on Israel's border.

Israel Katz, the country's chief of intelligence, said on Twitter that the decision to destroy the Syrian reactor "sends a clear message: Israel will never allow".

Newly released reports show that Israel sent four F-16 fighters into Syria on September 6, 2007, to to bomb the partially completed al-Kubar nuclear reactor in Deir al-Zor after monitoring the site for years. "The operation successfully removed an emerging existential threat to Israel and to the entire region - Syrian nuclear capabilities".

The Trump administration has also been locked in nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea-which the United States has previously said it believed supplied the Al-Kubar reactor. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was the opposition leader at the time, told reporters in the weeks after the attack that he had given Prime Minister Ehud Olmert his approval.

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.

Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel was determined to prevent its enemies from obtaining nuclear weapons.

James Jeffrey, Bush's deputy national security adviser, said on Wednesday the former U.S. president had been "absolutely supportive" of Israel.


Israel is believed to be the sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East with more than 200 undeclared nuclear warheads.

"This was our message in 2007, this remains our message today and will continue to be our message in the near and distant future".

Syria has on numerous occasions slammed the Western countries for supplying Israel with nuclear materials in a blatant violation of the NPT and even helping it to keep its nuclear activities secret.

Previous reports by the IAEA only suggested that the structure could have been a nuclear reactor.

Four F-16s and four F-15s were involved in the strike, with the operation beginning at 10:30 pm on September 5 and the planes returning at 2:30 am the following day.

According to Air force commander Major General Amikam Norkin, the strike has been vindicated by the conflict and chaos in Syria, as the reactor was in an area that was later under the control of Islamic State.

Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes on targets in Syria during the war, mostly on suspected arms shipments to the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.


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