167. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
- Anti-SAM Package for Israel
Following up your instructions,2 Mr. Packard, General Ryan and their specialists met with the chief of Israel’s air force and General Dayan’s deputy September 28–30 to discuss the equipment Israel had requested for possible use against the missile complex in the UAR.
The result of these discussions was the package described below (and in detail in Mr. Packard’s memo at Tab A).3 The anti-missile equipment would total $55 million. Four C–130 transport aircraft would add $20 million, and reconnaissance drones—if technical arrangements could be worked out—would add $15 million more.
Ambassador Rabin has expressed general satisfaction with the package that Mr. Packard has recommended.4 He seems satisfied that where Israel was not given all it asked for it is because the U.S. has legitimate requirements of its own that must be met first or because equipment to provide the capability Israel requested is still in the research and development stage.
Before you review the details, there is one broad issue that you will want to be aware of. It is not an argument against approving the package; it is a point which should be understood about its limits.
The judgment of most of our weapons specialists is that this package—which includes almost all of our most sophisticated equip[Page 559]ment—will not prevent losses which would be significant to Israel’s limited supply of pilots and planes and will therefore not enable the Israeli Air Force to attack continuously across the Canal in the missile zone. These judgments have been discussed openly with the Israelis. The Israelis discount them, perhaps because they have not had experience with this equipment. There remains the danger, therefore, that they may be drawn into attacks on the basis of loss estimates which may be over-optimistic.
There is little more to do now than to note this problem. In the slightly longer run, however, some limited research and development work could produce an improved capability for our forces and theirs. Mr. Packard is exploring these possibilities.
Mr. Packard has divided the list of Israeli requests into the following categories in making his recommendations:
1. Items which he recommends should be approved in principle and provided in the full quantities requested by Israel or (in a few instances) in the numbers available. [Tab B of Mr. Packard’s memo.]
a. Those items for approval in the quantities requested include cluster bombs, SHRIKES for use against the old SA–2, WALLEYE munition providing pinpoint accuracy from standoff position), a variety of bombs and mines, air-to-air missiles, some jamming equipment.
b. Those items for approval in less than the quantities requested include mainly four types of very sophisticated jamming equipment. Mr. Packard says that providing more than he recommends would delay equipping of USAF aircraft. There is one other item in this category—an advanced version of the SHRIKE usable against the new SA–2. Mr. Packard says providing more than recommended (20 of 100 requested) would draw U.S. supply below an acceptable level.
2. Items requested which Mr. Packard recommends not be provided for special reasons. These include:
a. Two kinds of bombs that could be launched from stand-off positions. Mr. Packard has approved the WALLEYE which has this capability but recommends against these two principally because the USAF is short of them in Southeast Asia.
b. An advanced SHRIKE for use against the newest SA–2. This is just now entering the USAF inventory.
c. One new jammer which the USAF has only in limited quantity represents our most advanced technology which Defense recommends not be subjected to compromise.
d. REDEYE missiles. These are man-carried air defense missiles. Defense is much concerned that our introducing them in Israel could [Page 560] induce the USSR to introduce their comparable weapon in Southeast Asia against our helicopters. They also argue that Israel’s problem now is not air defense.
e. RB–57 aircraft is not recommended because it would be too vulnerable in the dense UAR/USSR missile complex.
3. Items on the Israeli list which are still in research and development and not in production. Four jammers fall in this category.
4. One item which is not recommended for political reasons is the lease of 2 KC–97 L tankers for air-to-air refueling. This would give Israel the capacity for extensive deep penetration raids. It is not needed for raids in the Canal missile zone. Defense recommends holding this request in abeyance for the time being.
The above has been described in some detail to give you a concrete sense of what has gone into this package. Most of those in State and Defense and on my staff who have been involved—as well as Ambassador Rabin—feel this is a responsive package that would serve the political purpose of compensating Israel for the UAR gains as a result of the standstill violations.
In reviewing this package, you should be aware of these political points in Mr. Packard’s cover memorandum:
1. Mr. Packard says it was clear in his discussions with the Israelis that the military representatives at least do not favor beginning peace talks without a SAM rollback. The new UAR leadership seems unwilling to draw back any of its missiles or to extend the cease-fire indefinitely without some talks. If an impasse develops, Israel has made clear its intention to attack all the missile sites across the Canal whether or not the U.S. approves. Defense doubts Israel could succeed in forcing a Soviet pullback and points out the danger of Soviet escalation. Mr. Packard’s specialists suggested other strategies but the Israelis were not overly interested.
2. Mr. Packard recommends:
a. That the same conditions be attached to this as to the first anti-missile package (i.e. Israel would not unilaterally break the cease-fire with this equipment or use it beyond a 50 km. zone across the Canal.)
b. That Israel agree to begin peace talks without a total missile rollback.
The State Department agrees with Mr. Packard’s recommendations on the equipment package but not with his recommendations for political conditions. State would not recommend coupling this package with a request to Israel that it drop its insistence on a missile rollback and agree to begin participation in the Jarring talks. As State sees it, the [Page 561] purpose of this package is to fulfill our past assurance that we would do what we could to see that Israel did not suffer a military disadvantage as a result of its agreement to the cease-fire under the June peace initiative.
State earlier concurred in the condition that this equipment not be used to break the cease-fire.
1. That you approve the equipment package Mr. Packard recommends as described above and in his memo [Tab A].
2. That no new political conditions be attached and that the question of conditions for beginning the talks be dealt with in the NSC system in the context of the review of future options already ordered.
3. That earlier conditions on use of the equipment—not to be used in breaking the cease-fire unilaterally and not to be used beyond the 50 km. zone—be applied to this package.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–219, National Security Decision Memoranda. Top Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. All brackets are in the original.↩
- See Document 163.↩
- Packard’s October 3 memorandum to Nixon (Tab A) is attached but not printed. Entitled “Follow-up Actions with Israel,” it recommended that the United States furnish Israel with the most effective equipment available and included a list of weapons that could and should be provided and a list of those that could not and should not be provided.↩
- In an October 5 memorandum to Kissinger, Haig wrote: “I have spoken to Ambassador Rabin and got the distinct impression that the Israelis are delighted with the outcome, although they would like to have the two tankers mentioned in Packard’s memorandum as well as one or two other pieces of electronic gear. On balance, however, it is obvious that the Defense response has been forthcoming and constructive and one which should go a long way to alleviate residual problems with Israel.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 608, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. VII)↩
- Nixon approved all three recommendations.↩