299. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and Secretary of Defense Clifford1

TELEPHONE CALL TO SEC CLIFFORD

C congratulated the Secretary. Sec said he didn’t know C was planning on recording a statement—left him in the position of being the old hawk who must have proposed it. C said he had done it in accordance with what the Pres had said. A one-minute statement on TV and given to the reporters which is fair and is absolutely the rule. He and Wheeler had had a backgrounder.

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Sec said he had had two or three talks with the Pres on Phantoms. He is strongly opposed to twisting arms on the nuclear thing in connection with Phantoms. Doesn’t want them linked. When Sec brought up A-4’s and tanks, Pres said they had already gotten this from us. Sec said Pres doesn’t buy it at all. C said the problem falls in our area more than theirs. C said we know they have gotten an operational missile from the French. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] This is the road to disaster. The Soviets will never let them have this in the Middle East. Sovs must know it now. They will send in Sov contingents and set up atomic weapons in Arab nations. It will be the most dangerous area in the world. Sec says he has a directive and C may want to raise it with the Pres. Sec asked about delivery on the Phantoms. C said he thought it was 1970. Sec said they (Israelis) say early 1969. C said Nitze and Warnke were with him and their clear understanding is 1970. C said he would talk to the Pres again. Sec suggested sending word to Rabin that there was agreement in principle and they should send someone to the Pentagon to work out things and go on from there. C said they wouldn’t want to do that. Sec said the Air Force man who was at the Ranch is in town and is prepared to do it. C said to send him over.2

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations, Box 930. No classification marking. Prepared by Mildred Asbjornson of the Secretary’s office. A handwritten note on the memorandum reads, “No Dist.”
  2. In a November 1 memorandum to Parker Hart, Rodger Davies stated that Rusk had instructed him to contact Nitze at Defense to arrange for technical discussions with the Israelis preparatory to the conclusion of an agreement for the sale of the Phantom aircraft. After discussing the matter with Nitze, Davies called Rabin and informed him that General Hod could get in touch with Warnke to set up technical discussions. Davies noted that Rabin was “overjoyed at this development.” (Ibid., Central Files 1967-69, DEF 12-5 ISR)