[Guest post by DRJ]
As discussed previously in this post and this post, there seems to be much more than originally thought to the September 6 bombing of Syria by Israel. Now there is a report that a “very senior British ministerial source” says we came “so close to world war three that day.”
From The Spectator:
“A meticulously planned, brilliantly executed surgical strike by Israeli jets on a nuclear installation in Syria on 6 September may have saved the world from a devastating threat. The only problem is that no one outside a tight-lipped knot of top Israeli and American officials knows precisely what that threat involved.
Even more curious is that far from pushing the Syrians and Israelis to war, both seem determined to put a lid on the affair. One month after the event, the absence of hard information leads inexorably to the conclusion that the implications must have been enormous.
That was confirmed to The Spectator by a very senior British ministerial source: ‘If people had known how close we came to world war three that day there’d have been mass panic. Never mind the floods or foot-and-mouth — Gordon really would have been dealing with the bloody Book of Revelation and Armageddon.'”
The authors speculate that it must have been nuclear and it must have been big because no one is talking about it – basically a modern-day “dog that didn’t bark” theory:
“The only conceivable explanation for this unprecedented silence is that the event was so huge, and the implications for Israeli national security so great, that no one has dared break the rule of omertà.”
However, there was more than mere speculation. There was also evidence Syria was developing a nuclear facility with assistance from North Korea:
“Meanwhile, the Washington Post noted that the United States had accumulated a growing body of evidence over the past six months — and particularly in the month leading up to the attack — that North Korea was co-operating with Syria on developing a nuclear facility. The evidence, according to the paper, included ‘dramatic satellite imagery that led some US officials to believe the facility could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons’.”
Why the secrecy?
“Why are all sides so reluctant to clarify the details of this extraordinary event? ‘In the Middle East,’ noted Bret Stephens, a senior editorial executive at the Wall Street Journal and an acute observer of the region, ‘that only happens when the interests of prudence and the demands of shame happen to coincide’. He suggested that the ‘least unlikely’ explanation is a partial reprise of the Israeli air strike which destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.
Another of the ‘least unlikely’ possibilities is that Syria was planning to supply its terrorist clients with ‘dirty’ bombs, which would have threatened major cities throughout the world. Terrorism is a growth industry in Syria and it is only natural that, emboldened by its Iranian ally, the Syrian regime should seek to remain the market leader by supplying the ultimate weapon to Hezbollah, Hamas and a plethora of Palestinian rejectionist groups who have been given house-room in Damascus.”
Or even this:
“But that does not explain why the consignment was apparently too large to be sent by air. Look deeper and you find an array of other highly plausible explanations. The North Koreans, under intense international pressure, might have chosen to ‘park’ a significant stockpile of nuclear material in Syria in the expectation of retrieving it when the heat was off. They might also have outsourced part of their nuclear development programme — paying the Syrians to enrich their uranium — while an international team of experts continued inspecting and disabling North Korea’s own nuclear facilities. The shipment might even — and this is well within the ‘least unlikely’ explanations — have been intended to assist Syria’s own nuclear weapons programme, which has been on the cards since the mid-1980s.”
Whatever happened and whatever the reason, the authors conclude with this sober evaluation:
“WMD and rogue states pose the single greatest threat to world peace. We may have escaped from this incident without war, but if Iran is allowed to continue down the nuclear path, it is hard to believe that we will be so lucky again.”