TEL AVIV – Days after Israel admitted to destroying a nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007, an Arabic-language report claimed that the Assad regime may have constructed another nuclear facility near the border with Lebanon.
The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi news site cited a Syrian opposition source as saying that an underground uranium enrichment facility was built in the area of al-Qusayr in Homs province, only two kilometers from Lebanon. The facility is being run by North Koreans and Iranians. North Korea was said to have helped the Assad regime build the nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzor that was bombed by Israel in 2007.
A 2015 report by Der Spiegel first published suspicions that the Syrians did not give up their nuclear program with the Israeli strike. According to that report, intelligence sources and analysts said some 8,000 uranium rods were stored at the al-Qusayr site, which may also contain a new reactor or enrichment facility.
The site contained some six buildings that were connected to a power grid of the city of Blosah, as well as the region’s Zaita Lake. Water and power is “unnecessary for a conventional weapons cache, but it is essential for a nuclear facility.”
The article further emphasized cooperation between Syria, Iran and North Korea, including joint ventures involving ballistic missile tests.
Despite a policy not to comment on strikes on foreign soil, Israel has been open about attacking more than 100 targets in Syria. The Jewish state has warned repeatedly that it would do everything in its power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and from further entrenching itself militarily in Syria.
On Wednesday, the IDF confirmed that it had carried out the airstrike on the nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzor, ending a decade of secrecy over one the most daring military operations in recent history.
Israel was widely believed to have been behind the Sept. 6, 2007 airstrike, although it never commented publicly on it, with local media under censorship frequently referring to the attribution with the disclaimer “according to foreign reports.”