247. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to Secretary of State Rusk0
- Arms Limitation in the Near East
The President’s NSAM No. 231 of March 26, 1963,1 instructed the Department to develop proposals for forestalling the development of [Page 530] advanced weapons in the Near East. The NSAM was issued at the time a small working group was being formed under the direction of NEA and including CIA and ACDA participation to formulate an arms limitation arrangement and recommend a practical course of action. An outline summary of these recommendations is attached.
The proposal takes into account the lessons learned from a previous secret probe with Nasser and Ben Gurion (the 1956 Anderson Mission) as well as more recent studies in NEA and S/P of the pros and cons of undertaking a serious exploration with the UAR and Israel of a practicable arrangement to prevent further escalation of unconventional weapons in the Near East.
Our Plan of Action envisages a highly secret probe of UAR and Israeli willingness to cooperate with us to increase their security (V). We believe both sides have important reasons to do so (IV). If we are successful, we have much to gain (VI). If the attempt fails, we believe it will do little harm, if it can be kept secret, and could have useful side effects (IX).
In assaying the chances for success, we recognize that the proposed U.S. probe has only a reasonable chance of success but we believe it would be highly opportune since: 1) Israel has renewed its request to obtain a security guarantee; 2) the presence of German experts in the UAR has led to a public furor; 3) both the UAR and Israel have recently indicated their interest to a U.S. initiative (to Polk of S/P and Komer of the White House); 4) SNIE No. 30-2–632 estimates that Israel [3 lines of source text not declassified]; 5) while the UAR has a much publicized missile program, Israel will shortly overtake the slight UAR lead; and 6) these trends are highly dangerous and, if allowed to continue unchecked, reduce U.S. capability to act.
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Israel, 5/15–5/16/63. Top Secret. Drafted by Dickman. Handwritten notes on the source text indicate that Bundy received the original of the memorandum and a copy went to Komer.↩
- Document 199.↩
- Document 239.↩
- The UAR’s present missiles are largely show pieces which it might retain for that purpose. Present UAR missile development would be re-directed toward prestigious outer space programs. [Footnote in the source text.]↩