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How Israel Prevented a Nuclear Disaster in Syria


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


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