155. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy0

Ignore the bulk, but you’d find it well worthwhile to scan the first 16 pages of this paper from Rostow on next Arab-Israeli moves.1 Its proposition [Page 346]is that, since we’re getting nowhere on refugees, we ought instead to probe quietly whether BG and Nasser might accept a bit of tacit arms control.

With BG complaining to us about UAR rockets and radiological warfare and Nasser worried over Israeli BW and their nuclear reactor, both might be receptive at this point. In fact, we just took a discreet sounding with Nasser (results are fascinating—Tab B).

We’d be so much the gainers from this scheme that it’s worth a try. Success would both limit the risks of local war and reduce our indirect subsidies to Israel to compensate for Soviet arms to the UAR. The rub is precisely the same as in the US/USSR arms dialogue—inspection and control. Rostow’s scheme seems over-elaborate, but a less ambitious UAR/Israel tacit agreement to refrain from acquiring "unconventional" weapons (with the US discreetly policing the exercise) might just work.

Your blessing would give impetus to fleshing out some such scheme. We’d then secretly try it on for size, if you approved, through some device like the highly secret Anderson Mission in 1956 (pp. B–5 to B–12) which never leaked.

R.W. Komer
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Staff Memoranda, Komer, Robert W. Secret.
  2. Reference is to Polk’s paper entitled “The Palestine Problem: The Next Phase,” dated December 3, 1962. (Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, Near and Middle East) On January 25, Brubeck forwarded the paper to Bundy, noting that the Department would soon make recommendations in this area and that Komer shared the Department’s view that the President should be familiar with the study. In response to Bundy’s query whether this were true, Komer wrote Bundy on February 9: "Yes I do think JFK should read first few pages of this. It suggests what is now the most promising card available to us in Arab-Israeli game, and one we ought to play before Israeli reactor or UAR rockets get too far along. This is another plot of mine. Bill Polk’s fascinating talk with Nasser (also attached) makes this a real exercise rather than just a planner’s dream.” (Both memoranda in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Palestine Refugees, 12/62–11/63, Vol. II) The extract from Polk’s study is in the Supplement, the compilation on the Arab-Israeli dispute.