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

SUBJECT

  • The Israeli Phantoms—Final Loose Ends

Warnke and Rabin have exchanged letters on the general conditions of the F-4 sale (Tab B).2 In short, the Israelis have agreed not to use the F-4s to carry nuclear weapons and “not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area.” Rabin told Warnke that as long as Israel had neither tested a device nor made its existence public, it would consider that it had not “introduced” nuclear weapons. Warnke in his letter says mere possession is “introduction,” and that is where the issue rests. Eshkol’s last letter to you on the NPT was non-committal.3

Two issues remain:

1.

Delivery date. The Israelis have asked for April 1969. Bus Wheeler believes Israel will be at its greatest disadvantage between June 1969 and mid-1970. However, he does not believe the Israelis could be fully ready to maintain the planes much before January 1970. Also, delivering as early as April, 1969, would require “an unacceptable drawdown of spares” from USAF inventory. Therefore, Bus recommends we begin delivery in September 1969. This could be done without hurting the USAF, and if the Israelis need technical support for a few months they can hire US civilians from the manufacturer. Secretaries Clifford and Rusk endorse his recommendation (Tab A).4

Approve5

Disapprove

See me

2.
Credit. Defense has offered $60 million credit—$30 million each in FY 1969 and FY 1970. The Israelis have formally accepted, so there is really no issue. However, Abe Feinberg says an additional $15 million [Page 717] would help. I believe Defense could handle that much more this year, but the question is whether you wish to offer $75 million after the Israelis have already accepted $60 million. The only advantage to us of the higher figure would be a slightly better picture in Congress for the military sales bill.

Stick to $60 million6

Go to $75 million

Walt
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. XI, Cables and Memos, 12/68-1/69. Top Secret; Sensitive.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 332, and Document 333.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 349.
  4. Attached at Tab A was a December 21 memorandum from Secretary Clifford to President Johnson dealing with the Israeli request for accelerated delivery of the Phantom aircraft. A December 20 memorandum from Warnke to Clifford indicates that Rusk approved Clifford’s memorandum to the President. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 91-0017, Israel 452 (Sen))
  5. President Johnson checked this option.
  6. The President checked this option.