Israelis hail 2007 strike on alleged Syria nuke reactor

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Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly warned Israel will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon "not now, not in 10 years, not ever", or to build missile factories in Syria that could threaten Israel, or provide advanced weapons for Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shiite group in Lebanon.

The courageous decision of the Israeli government nearly 11 years ago to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria and the successful operation following it sends a clear message: Israel will never allow nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence.

In a statement, the military said in the assault, dubbed "Operation Out of the Box" by the army, Israeli fighter jets attacked and destroyed an undeclared nuclear facility in Deir ez-Zor on September 6, 2007.

The military said that following the four-hour operation, the reactor "had been totally disabled", and the damage done "was irreversible".

Operation Orchard - also called Operation Silent Melody as well as Operation Outside the Box - marked the second time Israel destroyed an enemy country's nuclear capabilities.

After more than a decade of secrecy, Israel has confirmed it has conducted a 2007 military strike on what was believed to be a Syrian nuclear reactor.

But pictures released by the U.S. government in early 2008 that they say were taken inside the facility show the core of the reactor under construction. 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 Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that the lessons of Israel's 2007 strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor should be heeded by the entire region.

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Olmert, who has served 16 months for corruption convictions and was been recently released from prison, said during an interview with Ynet News that when Israel's intelligence community notified him of the nuclear reactor, he decided that it must be destroyed.

Syria, a signatory of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has always denied that the site was a reactor or that Damascus engaged in nuclear cooperation with North Korea.

"The facility that was ... destroyed by Israel was a nuclear reactor under construction", Amano commented.

"Everyone in the Middle East would do well to internalise this equation".

The following summer, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors found traces of uranium at the site.

"I don't give them the exact details of the target and its essence, but I say that there's going to be a significant attack in the upcoming 24-48 hours, an event that in low likeliness could lead to war", he said. In the course of Syria's civil war, Deir Ezzour was captured by Islamic State, and it was only expelled in November by Syrian government forces. "And that is the message to our enemies for the future", IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said in a video statement regarding the 2007 bombing released Wednesday by the IDF.

In 2008 the United States presented what it described as intelligence showing that North Korea had helped Syria with "covert nuclear activities".