147. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • Appointment of Coordinator on Desalting Projects in Israel and the United Arab Republic

The attached memorandum2 speaks for itself, but I wish to comment on three points:


I believe Governor Harriman would be an excellent choice as the United States coordinator on the proposed desalting projects.

Other possibilities as coordinator, any of whom could perform with distinction, include Gene Black, Doug Dillon, and Mac Bundy.

All of these people not only have the sensitivity and the broad grasp required for the job, but are thoroughly acquainted with what it takes to guide a project through the Washington structure.

I consider it important to link the Israeli project to a possible United Arab Republic project with a view to making significant progress on controlling the spread of nuclear weapons development.3 We see a promising opportunity to work toward that goal through acceptance by both Israel and the United Arab Republic of IAEA safeguards, which provide a verifiable control system. I would stress also that in moving ahead we not lose sight of the importance of using our cooperation on this matter to obtain effective safeguards over the existing Dimona Reactor in Israel.
In view of the current state of our relations with Nasser, I believe any public announcement on the appointment of a coordinator should be related only to the possible Israeli project. (We would, however, privately inform Cairo at an appropriate time of our willingness to undertake an economic feasibility study in the United Arab Republic in the context of a possible understanding on safeguards with both Israel and the United Arab Republic.) Such an announcement should not be made before we have reached an understanding privately with the Israelis on what we have in mind to announce. Some delay in making the announcement would also help to mitigate a foreseeable tendency on the Arabs’ part to associate the nuclear desalting issue with the announcement just made on our sale of military aircraft to Israel.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Desalting Projects, Vol. I. Secret.
  2. Not printed. The May 21 State Department staff memorandum for the President asked for a decision on naming a high-level U.S. coordinator for desalination issues.
  3. The State Department’s views are more fully set out in a March 29 memorandum from Read to Smith. (Department of State, SCI Files: Lot 63 D 383)