Did IDF overconfidence almost prevent discovery of Syrian nuclear program?

The initial refusal by the IDF’s upper echelon to listen to warnings from a parliamentary committee almost prevented the discovery of a Syrian nuclear plant, Israeli TV reported.

By: World Israel News Staff

Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, former IDF intelligence chief Aharon Farkash and other high-ranking military officers initially rejected warnings received from politicians in 2004 about a possible Syrian nuclear weapons program because they thought they knew better, a report indicates.

According to a report by Hadashot TV’s Amit Segal, a Knesset sub-committee warned the IDF of Syria’s nuclear ambitions two years before the Mossad found clear-cut evidence that a reactor was being built there with North Korean help.

However, the IDF initially belittled the politicians, claiming they were out of their element, the report claims.

Farkash said in response that he does not remember the incidents as presented by Hadashot TV. Ya’alon declined to comment.

In March, Israel decided to confirm that the September 6, 2007 sortie which destroyed Syria’s nascent nuclear program and that was code-named “Outside the Box,” was Israel’s doing. Until this point in time Israel had imposed silence.

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Israeli gathered intelligence information about the nuclear reactor and verified that the reactor did in fact exist in 2006. The fact that it took so long for Israel to gather this information and make this verification was seen as a failure on the part of the Israeli military and intelligence community.

Hadashot uncovered a situation in which politicians were well ahead of the military and intelligence community when it came to suspicions about a possible nuclear reactor in Syria. As early as 2004 these politicians attempted to generate interest in these claims among the military and intelligence personnel.

The information available seemed to point to the distinct possibility that a there was nuclear program being developed, according to the proceedings from a commission tasked with looking into the matter during the stint prime minister Ariel Sharon.

The commission was the doing of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who pushed to ensure that Israel would know if any nation or rogue group attempted to establish a nuclear reactor in the Middle East.

What provoted Steinitz to do this were two different incidents. First, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi managed to begin a nuclear reactor without the knowledge of Israel and only when he agreed to give up the program in the wake of the allied forces’ attack on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did this program become known.

The second incident was the the faulty IDF intelligence surrounding Saddam Hussein’s purported nuclear program. Israel, and the US, though Hussein was developing nuclear weapons when in reality he was doing no such thing.