”Meanwhile, I have received from Ambassador Barbour a report of his conversation with you on May 14
regarding the arrangements for visiting the Dimona reactor. I should like to
add some personal comments on that subject.
”I am sure you will agree that there is no more urgent business for the whole
world than the control of nuclear weapons. We both recognized this when we
talked together two years ago, and I emphasized it again when I met with Mrs. Meir just after Christmas. The dangers in
the proliferation of national nuclear weapons systems are so obvious that I
am sure I need not repeat them here.
”It is because of our preoccupation with this problem that my Government has
sought to arrange with you for periodic visits to Dimona. When we spoke
together in May 1961 you said that we might make whatever use we wished of
the information resulting from the first visit of American scientists to
Dimona and that you would agree to further visits by neutrals as well. I had
assumed from Mrs. Meir's comment that
there would be no problem between us on this.
”We are concerned with the disturbing effects on world stability which would
accompany the development of a nuclear weapons capability by Israel. I
cannot imagine that the Arabs would refrain from turning to the Soviet Union
for assistance if Israel were to develop a nuclear weapons capability—with
all the consequences this would hold. But the problem is much larger than
its impact on the Middle East. Development of a nuclear weapons capability
by Israel would almost certainly lead other larger countries, that have so
far refrained from such development, to feel that they must follow suit.
”As I made clear in my press conference of May 8, we have a deep commitment
to the security of Israel. In addition this country supports Israel in a
wide variety of other ways which are well known to both of us. [4–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]
”I can well appreciate your concern for developments in the UAR. But I see no present or imminent nuclear
threat to Israel from there. I am assured that our intelligence on this
question is good and that the Egyptians do not presently have any
installation comparable to Dimona, nor any facilities potentially capable of
nuclear weapons production. But, of course, if you have information that
would support a contrary conclusion, I should like to receive it from you
through Ambassador Barbour. We have
the capacity to check it.
”I trust this message will convey the sense of urgency and the perspective in
which I view your Government's early assent to the proposal first put to you
by Ambassador Barbour on April 2.33. See footnote 5, Document
”John F. Kennedy”
1 Source: Department of State,
Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 294, Pres. Kennedy-Johnson/Israel
Correspondence: 1962–65. Secret; Eyes Only; Operational Immediate.
Drafted by Ball and Crawford on May 17; cleared by
Talbot, Strong, Rollefson (in
substance), Harriman, Bromley
Smith, and Kriebel; and approved by Rusk.