20. National Security Study Memorandum 401
- The Secretary of State
- The Secretary of Defense
- The Director of Central Intelligence
- Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program
The President has directed the preparation of a policy study on the Israeli nuclear weapons program.[Page 67]
As a background for this study, a thorough intelligence study should be provided, describing our best estimate of the current state and future prospects of the Israeli program. The intelligence estimate should be provided on a selected basis to the named individuals of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Review Group and of the National Security Council listed below.
The policy should (a) discuss as specifically as possible the implications of Israel’s nuclear weapons program for U.S. objectives in the Middle East, in arms limitation and in non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and (b) describe the principal policy alternatives for the U.S. and the full range of possible U.S. actions in the situations we are most likely to face. For instance, the paper might consider alternatives (a) in the present situation, (b) in a situation where Israel is known by us but not by the Arabs to have completed a nuclear device, and (c) in a situation where Israel is known by us and by the Arabs to be ready to deploy nuclear weapons. After analyzing alternatives, the paper may state a viewpoint on a preferred course.
The President has directed that this study be prepared by an Ad Hoc Group chaired by a representative of the Secretary of State and including representatives of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Central Intelligence and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
The paper should be submitted by April 25, 1969, to an Ad Hoc Committee of the NSC Review Group comprised of Elliot L. Richardson, Under Secretary of State; David Packard, Deputy Secretary of Defense; Richard Helms, Director of Central Intelligence; General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and chaired by the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The special committee of the National Security Council will be comprised of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.2
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–146, National Security Study Memoranda. Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.↩
- Because of the “sensitivity of the subject,” this study was “not handled by the full NSC mechanism.” (Memorandum from Atherton to Barbour, July 30; ibid., RG 59, Lot Files, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Office of Israel and Arab-Israel Affairs, 1951–1976, Box 27) See Document 31.↩