Bombing the Syrian Reactor: The Untold Story
As the civil war in Syria enters its third year, there is much discussion of the regime’s chemical weapons and whether Syria’s Bashar al-Assad will unleash them against Syrian rebels, or whether a power vacuum after Assad’s fall might make those horrific tools available to the highest bidder. The conversation centers on Syria’s chemical weaponry, not on something vastly more serious: its nuclear weaponry. It well might have. This is the inside story of why it does not.
Relations between the United States and Israel had grown rocky after Israel’s incursion into Lebanon in 2006, for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believed the Israelis had mishandled both the military and the diplomatic sides of the conflict. While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s personal relations with President George W. Bush were excellent, those with Rice were sometimes confrontational—especially when Rice worked at the United Nations to bring the war to a close while Olmert sought more time to attack Hezbollah. Olmert always seemed to ask for 10 days more, while Rice believed the war was not going well and that more time was unlikely to turn the tables.
By the war’s end on August 14, 2006, Olmert’s political status had been diminished and his ability to negotiate any sort of peace agreement with the Palestinians was in doubt. The autumn of 2006 and winter of 2007 saw no movement on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and all the Israeli analysts we consulted said there would be none. We were stuck. And there was another surprise in store.