( Israelinsider ) - US officials reported that Israel's air strike on Syria last month was targeted at a partially constructed nuclear reactor, years away from developing the capability to create nuclear-grade plutonium, the New York Times reported. The US President George W. Bush's administration was reportedly divided over whether an air strike would be premature.
"There wasn't a lot of debate about the evidence," one American official said, referring to the heated discussions between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and members of the Bush administration, according to the New York Times. "There was a lot of debate about how to respond to it."
American and foreign officials said that Syria's reactor was modeled on a North Korean reactor used to create a stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel.
The attack was similar to Israel's air strike on Iraq's nuclear facilities in 1981, which the Bush administration said significantly set back Iraq's nuclear aspirations.
However US officials said that the operation in Syria on September 6 was targeted at a facility that was far less advanced than the reactor in Iraq.
A high-ranking Israeli official said that Israel had more than just one goal in mind when planning the attack on the Syrian target -- the Jewish state also wanted to demonstrate to Syria and its neighbors that nuclear ambitions would not be tolerated. Syria is technically in a state of war with Israel, and tensions have been on the rise recently following speculation of a war erupting between the two countries.
The operation was also carried out in order to "re-establish the credibility of our deterrent power," the official said.
There has also been speculation that the operation was meant to additionally send a message to Iran, whose combination of nuclear efforts and calls for Israel's destruction present have caused concern in the Jewish state.