How Israel Prevented a Nuclear Disaster in Syria

April 27 2016

In 2007, the late Meir Dagan, then head of the Mossad, alerted the U.S. that North Korea was building a nuclear reactor in Syria; Israel then destroyed the reactor before it became operational. Had it not done so, writes John Hannah, Islamic State might already be in possession of Syrian-made nuclear weapons. But, Hannah continues, North Korea still remains interested in selling its nuclear technology to the most malign forces in the Middle East, a possibility made only worse by the American deal with Iran:

The fact is that the United States dodged a bullet in Syria—and, it’s worth stressing, all courtesy of the Israelis. . . . While [that reactor] may have been the most egregious case of North Korean proliferation, it was hardly unique. North Korea has for decades sold missiles and missile technology to any state willing to pay. . . . The military relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, in particular, has been longstanding and deep, commencing in the 1980s and continuing to the present. Virtually all of Iran’s most important nuclear-capable missile platforms can in fact be sourced to North Korean technology.

Importantly, Pyongyang’s proliferation bazaar has been open not only to states, but to dangerous non-state actors as well. Iran’s most deadly terrorist proxy, Lebanese Hizballah, has also been an important recipient of North Korean military assistance. The North provided critical support to help Hizballah build a massive network of underground military installations, tunnels, bunkers, depots, and storage facilities in southern Lebanon. Moreover, North Korea has played a major role in building up Hizballah’s huge missile arsenal, sending rocket and missile components to Iran where they were assembled and then shipped to Hizballah for use against Israeli civilian targets. . . .

As a result of last summer’s nuclear deal, Iran is supposed to restrain its program for the next decade or so, while submitting to greater international scrutiny on its territory. In exchange, it will get tens of billions of dollars in cash and the ability once again to sell as much oil as it can on international markets. For its part, North Korea is cash- and oil-poor but under no such nuclear restrictions. On the contrary, it has spent the first four months of 2016 dramatically ramping up its efforts to improve its expanding nuclear deterrent. Indeed, the North is seeking to perfect precisely those elements of its military nuclear arsenal that Iran has yet to develop: the testing of an actual bomb, warhead miniaturization, reentry technology, and a functional ICBM.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Hizballah, Iran nuclear program, Israel & Zionism, North Korea, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror