Israeli security officials have accused Syria of resuming the construction of nuclear facilities in its territory for military purposes, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Thursday.
In a briefing to reporters on Wednesday, Israeli military sources said the country would not allow a repeat of the Iranian model in Syria and would not wait for Damascus to complete the construction of a nuclear reactor before using all means at its disposal to stop the program.
According to the report, following last year's bombing of the alleged Syrian nuclear facility near Dir A-Zur, Damascus resumed the construction of a number of new plants. The Israeli military sources were quoted as saying that the Syrians are following the Iranian nuclear model, meaning the simultaneous construction of a number of nuclear facilities in different locations.
The sources said North Korea was behind the project, adding that experts from Pyongyang visited Syria last month to begin planning the project.
"The past year has seen three incidents indicating that Syria's nuclear armament is a red line that must not be crossed," Asharq Al-Awsat quoted one of the Israeli officials, who was apparently referring to the bombing at Dir A-Zur, the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad's top security advisor Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman and Saturday's deadly car bomb explosion near a Syrian intelligence facility.
Israel believes General Suleiman was in charge of Syria's nuclear program and the cooperation with North Korea. The military officials also alluded to the possibility that Israel was operating inside Syria. Israel has never admitted to bombing the nuclear facility in Dir A-Zur.
According to one report, among those killed in Saturday's car bomb attack near Damascus was Brig.-Gen. George Gharbi, another top Syrian military official involved in the country's nuclear program, and his son, who held the rank of lieutenant.
Another report said the senior officer killed in the blast was Abed el-Karim Abbas, deputy head of the Palestine Division in Syrian intelligence.
The Italian news agency AKI quoted Syrian opposition figures as saying that Abbas was among the officers interrogated over the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The western sources told the newspaper that Israel was looking to damage Syria's relations with a number of European countries.