65. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic 0

2121. Vienna for Farley. Verbatim text. Charge requested convey following personal message from Secretary to FonMin Fawzi on June 17 or as soon thereafter as possible:1

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“Ever since assuming the duties of Secretary of State, I have wanted to send you a personal note to tell you how much I look forward to working with you again in my new capacity. You know better than I the burdens of a Foreign Minister and will therefore understand why this pleasure has been deferred until now.

“While the Near East area has been relatively tranquil in recent months, I have been aware since my appointment of Arab concern regarding reports in the last few months of Israel’s atomic development plans. As Your Excellency knows, the United States Government has steadfastly opposed any proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. Accordingly, when your Ambassador called on me on February 7,2 I assured him that the United States Government had welcomed public Israeli statements that their new reactor is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes. I stressed that we intended to continue our vigilance and opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons capacity with respect to Israel as well as other countries.

“Pursuant to this basic intention, the United States Government recently arranged for two highly-qualified American scientists to visit the Israeli reactor site at Dimona. These experts have now furnished us their views. They state that the Dimona project is designed to provide Israel with a research reactor to give scientific and technical personnel experience in the problems posed by a power reactor. In common with many other states, the Israelis are short of power and regard this project as an essential first step toward meeting their industrial requirements. While the reactor will produce small quantities of plutonium, as do others of comparable size and character, our experts found no evidence that the Israelis have weapons production in mind. I am therefore happy to renew to you the personal assurance I furnished to your Ambassador that we believe this reactor is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

“During their recent meeting in New York President Kennedy stressed to Premier Ben Gurion the continuing concern of the United States regarding proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. Mr. Ben Gurion assured the President that the reactor’s only purpose is to develop a cheap source of industrial power and that weapons production was not contemplated. Your Excellency may rest assured that, in accordance with our firm policy in this field, the United States Government will maintain its vigilance.

“I understand that the United Arab Republic Government is itself giving active study to the industrial power possibilities of atomic energy. Your representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency [Page 159] recently approached us in Vienna regarding possible United States assistance in this field. We shall instruct our mission there to seek further details from your representatives.

“In view of the sensitive nature of this subject, we are taking particular care in making known the results of the investigation of the Dimona reactor by American experts. Given the immediate concern of the United Arab Republic with the reactor we have wanted to give your Government this information first. I recognize, of course, that you will no doubt wish to apprise President Nasser and other senior officials of your Government regarding the contents of this message. I am pleased that this first occasion for renewing communication between us has given me an opportunity to furnish what I trust will be welcome news.

“With best regards and respects, Sincerely, Dean Rusk

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11–RU/6–1561. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Brewer (NEA/NE) on June 14; cleared by Strong, Talbot, Furnas (S/AE) in draft, Navez (S/S), and Swank (S) in draft; and approved by Talbot who initialed for Rusk. Repeated to Vienna.
  2. In addition to this message to the United Arab Republic, on June 17, the Department of State instructed Near Eastern posts to inform host governments of the results of the scientists’ visit to the Dimona reactor. (Circular telegram 2047, June 17; ibid., 884A.1901/6–1761) The telegram has not been found in Department of State files, but it is summarized in a “Chronology of Israel Assurances of Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy and Related Events,” March 18, 1964. (Ibid., AE 6 ISR)
  3. See Document 9.