215. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State 1
4536. 1. During meeting with Prime Min Eshkol morning July 15, Ball raised issue of Israeli delay in signing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He referred to Eban’s letter to Secretary Rusk 2 and made clear position expressed was unacceptable. All other states in area had signed treaty and GOI’s intransigence called into question their basic good [Page 422] faith. The only result of GOI’s footdragging would be to breed suspicion in Arab states and USSR.
2. Prime Minister said he knows USG view and stands on earlier position that Israel will not be first to introduce nuclear weapons in area. Eshkol pointed out, however, GOI is not only state which still thinking NPT over. Problem is that Israel surrounded by enemies on all sides. Eshkol said he not seeking to link NPT problem with Israeli request for Phantom aircraft but did wish to point out security consideration is a major one. Israel not interested in relieving Arabs of their suspicions re its nuclear intentions. Barbour recalled he had said earlier this was dangerous view. Ball stressed that anything Israel might do which would create shadow of a suspicion that it has nuclear arms aims would establish an even stronger UAR security claim on the Soviets. Ball drew attention to US-USSR assurances in Security Council to non-nuclear powers in case of nuclear attack. Prime Minister, noting he realized he on dangerous ground, asked whether this a real guarantee or rather a declaration of intention which powers may choose ignore if circumstances change. Israel faces “to be or not to be” situation.
3. GOI FonMin SecGeneral Gideon Rafael noted GOI participating in non-nuclear congress which scheduled convene August 29. Rafael said outcome of deliberations non-nuclear powers would be important to GOI’s final decision with regard to NPT.
4. Prime Minister did not challenge Ball’s view but gave impression of confusion suggesting that his government had been caught with fingers in the cookie jar. He referred rather plaintively to GOI’s situation. The clear impression gained by Ball and Sisco was that this was a tactical move related to Phantoms and did not represent position GOI would hold over time.
5. Eshkol appeared very defensive on this point and stated three times that he “would take the USG’s position into consideration.”