Israel Admits Bombing Syrian Nuclear Reactor
The office of the Israeli military censor cleared for publication the details about the bombing of a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor that took place on September 6, 2007. The military released previously classified cockpit footage, photographs, and intelligence documents. Back in 2007, the IDF only admitted that it had carried out an air strike against a target deep in Syrian territory without revealing any details about the target, success, units involved or decision-making process.
The operation Outside the Box began in 2004 with intelligence on foreign experts who were helping Syria develop its nuclear capabilities. By April 2006, Israel managed to gather substantial evidence of a nuclear reactor being built with the help of North Korea, including its location 450 km north of Damascus. In the end, eight planes dropped 18 tonnes of munition and destroyed the reactor “beyond any chance of rehabilitation,” before it was even turned on. At the time, both Syria and North Korea denied any nuclear cooperation. In 2011 the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that the target was a nuclear reactor under construction.
Today, the declassification of this operation is mainly seen as a warning to Iran that Israel will use force against anything that it perceives as an existential threat. Worth mentioning is also the fact, that without the air strike the functioning reactor or its fuel would probably be in the hands of the Islamic State today.
Domino effect of Skripal´s poisoning
After the British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of being behind the chemical attack on the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, she has also called for strong political action against Russia. Besides the ban of the Russia funded TV Network RT in the UK, the British Government announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the country. Russia responded in the same way, expelling 23 British diplomats.
Showing unity with the Western allies, some other states responded similarly. In total, more than twenty countries, starting with Germany, France or Belgium, announced the expulsion of Russian representatives. USA is notably expelling about sixty Russian diplomats, including some delegates from the UN New York headquarters, and closing the Russian Consulate in Seattle. Even NATO announced they are sending home seven diplomats from the Russian mission to the Alliance. This is to send a clear message about consequences for such an unacceptable behaviour.
Czech govt. expels three Russian “diplomats” out of 140 accredited Russians in the country. Security experts suggest about 60 of them are not really diplomats. @PoliticoRyan @dbroessler @JamesShotter @HenryJFoy #Skripal
— Tomas Prouza (@ProuzaTomas) March 26, 2018
Together 27 countries in the world are banning Russian diplomats out of the country, which affects more than 150 Russian officials. These are often believed to be spying for the Russian Government.
Russia reacted in the same way, expelling the same number of Western diplomats. On Thursday last week, the American diplomats learned they were being kicked out of Russia. On Friday it was the Europeans. But Moscow went one step further, ordering the reduction of Britain’s diplomatic mission to match the numbers of the Russian mission to the UK.
Poland buys American Patriots
Some analysts doubt that expelling Russian diplomats will be sufficient action for Russia to care. But Moscow might notice another development in its neighbourhood.
The Polish government signed a contract with the American company Raytheon to buy medium-range surface-to-air missile system Patriot on March 28. Poland will reportedly pay 4,75 billion USD for a “state-of-the-art” defence system, making it the largest weapons procurement in Polish history. The negotiations were long-lasting, mainly due to the requirement of at least 50% domestic industrial participation set by the Polish government.
This acquisition will conclude the Phase 1 of the Wisla program which started in 2015 and aims to create a modern air and missile defence system. Poland will receive the latest version of the system, Patriot Configuration 3+, equipped with a net-centric IBCS air defence management system. The Poles also demanded 360-degree detection capability, which the current system lacks. In the following phases of the Wisla program, Poland plans to acquire 8 batteries of the Patriot system.
— Poland.pl (@Poland) March 28, 2018
Poland is modernizing its armed forces in reaction to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. The acquisition of the newest Patriot system will surely boost its defence, as well as industrial and technological capabilities and strengthen the trans-Atlantic partnership.
Although a question remains whether the system would be effective also against the new invincible zig-zagging Russian missiles Putin boasted about few of weeks ago.
Image: Israel Air Force | Source: Flickr / Israel Defense Forces (CC BY-NC 2.0)
STRATPOL Memos is a project which on a bi-weekly basis provides a short overview of the most important selected moments of Euro-Atlantic security and related areas. Our goal is to provide brief and informative comments with short analysis putting news into broader context.
Responsible editor Ondřej Zacha.
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