Former Mossad Chief on Syrian Reactor: "Resounding Intelligence Failure"

Tamir Pardo, former head of the Israeli spy agency, declared that before the Mossad provided information on the nuclear facility in Deir ez-Zor, Israel suffered a failure of intelligence about Syria’s nuclear ambitions

Tamir Pardo (screenshot)

Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo on Wednesday said that the intelligence provided by the agency was what enabled the successful operation against the nuclear reactor in Syria.

"A team of Mossad fighters managed to retrieve intelligence, and thanks to this information – and only thanks to it – did the State of Israel acquire the knowledge that there was a nuclear reactor in Syria," Pardo said at the Dagan Conference on Security and Strategy at Netanya Academic College, noting that the information had been received more than five years after Syria had started building the reactor.

Pardo suggested that the fact that the reactor was destroyed at such a late stage of its construction was a resounding failure. "On one hand, there was an echoing failure to detect the nuclear core for an extended period. On the other hand, there was complete luck in finding the nuclear core in a place no one would have expected," he said.

"We were lucky that a handful of fighters managed to retrieve this information. We were even luckier that this handful of fighters were not aware, even after returning home, of what they were bringing home."

"The moment that the information was known, the entire Israeli security establishment was enlisted – the IDF, the Mossad, the ISA and the Foreign Ministry. Shadow crews and others gave their advice, and in time of pressure, the State of Israel knows how to enlist the best of its youth and to achieve a brilliant result carried out by the IAF and under the command of the chief of staff," he said. 

"I think that then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did exceptional work as a leader of the state and in bringing its abilities to the fore at the right moment. I think that Ehud Barak did exceptional work in his job as defense minister and in bringing the forces to the right point. It’s important to remember that Israel was just a year after the Second Lebanon War, it was still licking its wounds, and with chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and GOC Northern Command just finishing their jobs, of course an incident like that could have developed into a war," he said. 

"Both Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi handled the matter exceptionally well. Aside from them, there were many others. It was decided for censorship reasons, in a strange way, to put the Mossad into a shadow of a shadow."

"I’m not sure it was essential to come out with revelations about the operation now," Pardo said. "The problem with successful operations is that the Israeli dialectic is trying to grab the credit for the success, and then an unusually ugly war of egos begins, whereby everyone tries to minimize the role of the others," he added.

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