Israel obtained detailed photographs from inside an alleged Syrian nuclear facility prior to carrying out an air strike on September 6, ABC News reported Friday night.
An unnamed senior source in the US told the news network that the Mossad had discovered in the summer that Syria was constructing a nuclear facility and proceeded to either place a mole inside the plant or convince one of the workers to supply Israel with intelligence.
Through the mole, the source said, Israel received detailed pictures from the ground that showed a large cylindrical structure, trucks, and a pumping station – all of which would be necessary components for a nuclear facility. Since the site was not yet operating, the official said, no evidence of fissionable material was found.
Also significant, ABC reported, was the site’s design, which the official identified as “North Korean.”
After obtaining the photos, the official said, Israel approached the CIA. The US looked up satellite coordinates for the site – which the official said was located some 100 miles from the Iraqi border in a remote part of the Syrian desert – and helped Israel pinpoint possible “drop sites.”
Israel urged the US to carry out the attack, the ABC report said, and US officials began examining options for a strike. Possible tactics were assessed, including the possibility of a helicopter raid.
However, word came from the White House that the US preferred not to attack as it had no concrete proof that the facility was intended to produce nuclear material. According to the report, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates attempted to convince Israel “to confront, not attack.”
Neither the White House nor the CIA had any comment on the ABC report.