349. Information Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

You will wish to be aware of the attached letter from Eshkol on the NPT.2 It tells us nothing new.

Rabin, in the Phantom negotiations, reaffirmed Israel’s assurance “not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area.” But it became clear in Warnke’s discussion with him that the Israelis feel they could develop a nuclear device but would feel correct in claiming they had not “introduced” it so long as they had neither tested it nor made its existence public. Needless to say, that view leaves a lot to be desired from our viewpoint.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence File, Israel, 8/1/68-12/12/68. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Not printed. Prime Minister Eshkol sent the letter to President Johnson on December 4 in response to Johnson’s November 15 letter to him urging Israel to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Eshkol wrote that Israel was still giving careful consideration to the long-term security implications of the treaty and would take into account the considerations advanced in Johnson’s letter.