119. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

762. Subject: Dimona Visit. Ref: Embtel 738.2 I approached Prime Minister Eshkol this morning making presentation along lines non FYI section Deptel 4923 and left with Levavi of Foreign Office, who also [Page 263] present, copy of talking paper which consisted of close paraphrase all points enumerated therein.

There followed lengthy discussion in which I emphasized that these were minimum requirements to enable visit to accomplish purpose envisaged by President and Prime Minister and that insofar as they are more complex than previous requirements, this added complexity arises from fact reactor has now been operating over twelve months since last observation.

Prime Minister expressed concern that specificity these detailed requirements would seem to alter nature of visit to which he and his predecessor had agreed and he apprehensive that in circumstances he might feel necessary to consult Cabinet again, which if at all possible he anxious to avoid. He said it now appears what we desire is “inspection” as distinct from the visit by scientists as guests of Israel. Such inspection would raise familiar issue of prejudice to Israeli sovereignty and there no precedent in relationships between any two countries he could think of justify such procedure. I assured him there no intention our part to alter nature of visit and reiterated that specific requirements solely designed to enable observation by visitors to accomplish purposes originally set forth in line intervening developments since previous visits. While obviously not entirely reassured Prime Minister then said that he would send me his final comments within next day or two. Without discussing other specifics he declined agree to a full two days (nor to my alternative suggestion that might be possible arrange for team to visit on two successive Saturdays) but said he would be prepared for team to begin visit on Friday, the 29th, at noon and extend through Saturday evening, which corresponds to weekend when reactor personnel absent and is in effect almost two days. In conclusion he again stressed visit must be fundamentally on same basis as previous ones, that is team must be invited guests of Israel and not “inspectors.” If I succeeded in allaying his apprehensions, at least in part, I anticipate his confirmation will be forthcoming in day or so.

Subsequently, Bitan of Foreign Office, who also present, told me in confidence that he does not anticipate great difficulty with most of requirements specifically probably no objection reviewing operating records reactor and fuel. However, Israelis had already feared team might want to bring scientific equipment of various sorts and our request that they be permitted “perform physical inventory and make [Page 264] independent measurements” tended confirm such fears. Israelis, Bitan said, prepared facilitate inventory and independent measurements with own instruments but would undoubtedly object to team bringing own equipment.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, AE 11–2 ISR. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. Dated December 29, 1964. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 113.
  4. Telegram 568 to Tel Aviv, January 5, stated that the team was prepared to accept a January 29–30 visit and that it did not matter whether they were called “invited guests” or “inspectors” provided they were given access to all parts of the Dimona site and to all relevant reports. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, AE 11–2 ISR)