It's viewed as one of history's greatest covert military actions. The Israeli air force conducted a secret mission that wiped out Syria's nuclear weapons program.
CBN News spoke with an Israeli defense expert and a retired US Navy vice admiral about the operation known as "Shadow Strike" and what it means for Iran's nuclear threat.
"They have pictures of a nuclear reactor, the core of the reactor, the fuel rods of the reactor...," Israeli defense expert and The Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz described the intelligence – which ultimately led to "Shadow Strike" in Syria.
Retired Navy Vice Adm. Herman Shelanski interviewed Katz about the recently declassified files of the mission that led to Katz's best-selling book.
"Israel destroyed this reactor in 2007. Seven years later in the summer of 2014, you know what happened in that region of Syria where that reactor once stood? ISIS took it over," Katz explained during an interview with CBN News.
"So had Israel not discovered this reactor, had Israel not taken action, let's imagine for a moment what that would have meant," he continued.
"You would have had this al-Baghdadi guy, right, with not just thousands of fighters and vicious, brutal fighters, but with radioactive material, dirty bombs and potentially a nuclear weapon in his suitcase," Katz noted.
In light of the current state of affairs of the Middle East, what does the "Shadow Strike" mean when it comes to Iran? What are the implications of that secret Israeli air force mission in Syria when it comes to Iran's nuclear program?
"So we're looking at a much more complicated operation, that's on the one hand. On the other hand, Israel could go there," Katz said. "Israel has the capability to fly its jets to Iran and to take out some of the key facilities."
"They've scattered them throughout the country – some of them buried deep underground inside mountains or reinforced steel and concrete bunkers," he added. "But let's say they could cause enough damage; they could set them back."
Katz believes military action is not enough.
"You need to hit them with tough sanctions. You need to get the world aligned to insure that after that mission the Iranians aren't going to rebuild what you have just destroyed," he said.
Shelanski says Israel has been "loud and clear" about its red line with Iran's nuclear enrichment program.
"That if Iran had the development of a nuclear weapon that they would take action," he told CBN News. "I mean they did it in Iraq, they did it in Syria."
"I think something similar would play out, they would certainly talk with the United States very carefully and other allies that they have," Shelanski continued.
He points out Israel has more international friends now than in 2007, which could affect the Jewish state's strategy with Iran.
"Politically, it could be a little bit more advantageous for them to use the diplomatic path – it's possible," said Shelanski. "Certainly, at one point, the allies, our allies, the United States' allies worked very much together to put constraints on Iran to insure that they didn't have the means to get the bomb."
"A lot of that's deteriorating now," he added.
Shelanski says it boils down to two paths for Israel – "diplomatic" or "wartime".
"But I think Israel's shown pretty clearly that they're not afraid to take the wartime path if needed," he said.