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

3562. Ref: State 154625.2

In meeting with FonMin Eban on May 2 I took occasion stress importance US attaches to NPT as indicated by Secretary’s message to him of April 29, and urged that GOI give full support toward endorsement of treaty in GA and that Israel announce its preparedness to sign treaty.
Among others, I used argument that this problem transcends other issues that Israel has everything to gain in being forthright in supporting treaty and nothing to lose by doing so. Adverting to position advanced by some responsible Israelis that uncertainty as to Israel’s [Page 326] intentions in a nuclear field constitute a deterrent to the Arabs and that consequently Israel’s interests dictate that it be one of the last and not one of the first to sign, I said this seemed entirely fallacious argument to me. It inconceivable that Israel with its history would ever contemplate using a nuclear bomb and that consequently the deterrent of uncertainty was greatly diminished. On the contrary the risks of uncertainty are high and to achieve Arab renunciation of the nuclear threat the best tactic would be for Israel to be the first to endorse and sign the treaty. In any event if such tactic did not lead to Arab response the favorable political effect for Israel in the councils of the world would be very great.
Eban acknowledged importance of the matter and his appreciation that Secretary’s message confirmed our determination to do everything we can to obtain support. He did not take issue with the US position. On contrary at end of somewhat lengthy conversation he expressed agreement that Israel should support the treaty and should make known that support at an early stage of the GA debate. Whether he can convince his Cabinet colleagues to approve such a course is more problematical.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. IX, Cables and Memos, 3/68–5/68. Secret. Repeated to USUN and the Mission in Geneva.
  2. Document 155.