311. Draft Memorandum for the Record1


  • F-4 Negotiations with the Israelis

Ambassador Rabin came to see Mr. Warnke last night and flatly and rather brutally rejected our request for assurances with respect to strategic missiles and nuclear weapons. He read from a talking paper,2 a copy of which he left with us. This is attached. The Memorandum of Conversation is attached.3

The background for the Israeli performance, as I understand it, is as follows: On November 7, Secretary Clifford and Secretary Rusk met with the President on this subject.4 As recounted by Mr. Clifford to Mr. Warnke, both Secretaries argued with the President in favor of insisting on additional assurances from the Israelis on the grounds [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] that nuclear weapons in the Middle East were extremely dangerous for the national security of the United States. The President apparently said that he had promised the F-4s without any conditions, and that was his position. He did not even wish to accept Mr. Rusk’s position that we had at least to obtain the same assurances that we had previously received from the Israelis in connection with the A-4 negotiations.

Mr. Warnke was in Germany at this time, returned to the Pentagon at 5:00 p.m. on November 8, and was told of the President’s position by Mr. Clifford just before the Israelis arrived. When Ambassador Rabin and his colleagues walked into Mr. Warnke’s office just after 6:00 p.m., it was abundantly clear that they had been told of the President’s position and of his instructions to the Secretaries of Defense and State.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 73 A 1351, Chronology of F-4s for Israel, 10 Oct 68-5 Sept 69, Folder 1. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Harry Schwartz.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 309.
  3. Document 309.
  4. According to the President’s Daily Diary, this was a luncheon meeting with the President which also included Generals Maxwell Taylor and Earle Wheeler, CIA Director Helms, and Walt Rostow. (Johnson Library)