The Israeli military said that fighter jets bombed the al-Kibar facility in Deir al-Zour province, 450 kms north-east of Damascus, as it neared completion.
Syria's government had repeatedly denied that it was building a reactor, instead insisted that it was a missile facility.
Speaking in 2008, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, mocked the accusation, saying, "Syria builds many buildings all over the country. Does that mean that any building we build should be a project or a design to be a nuclear center building?," CNN reported.
Israel has now fully acknowledged carrying out the operation, named "Outside the Box," to a handful of media organisations.
But at that time, even the name of the operation was a secret; it was spoken of publicly as "Operation Orchard".