37. Paper Prepared by the Ad Hoc Special Review Group on the Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program1
SCENARIO FOR DISCUSSIONS WITH ISRAELIS ON THEIR NUCLEAR PROGRAM
A. US Objectives
1. Our objectives are to persuade Israel to:
a) Sign the NPT at an early date (by the end of this year) and ratify it soon thereafter.
b) Reaffirm to the US in writing the assurance that Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Near East, specify[Page 128]ing that “introduction” shall mean possession of nuclear explosive devices.2
c) Give us assurances in writing that it will stop production and will not deploy “Jericho” missiles or any other nuclear-capable strategic missile.
2. Early signature and ratification of the NPT must be our minimum objective. The NPT provides the best basis for international confidence in Israel’s intentions.
Bilateral assurances are equally important. They are also a desirable adjunct to the NPT because of the time factor. The Treaty does not enter into force until the three nuclear signatories and 40 others sign and ratify (present score is one nuclear and about 20 others) and this may take another six months to a year. Even after the Treaty is in force it gives a signatory six months to enter negotiations with the IAEA for a safeguards arrangement, and it gives the signatory an additional 18 months to conclude those negotiations. We need the bilateral assurances to cover the interim and we should do our best to get them.
Israeli agreement to stop production and not to deploy strategic missiles is important because the deployment of a delivery system that is militarily cost effective only as a nuclear weapons carrier would seriously vitiate confidence in Israel’s adherence to the NPT. We should therefore make a determined effort, at least initially, to achieve this objective. However, if the Israelis show a disposition to meet us on the nuclear issue but are adamant on the Jericho missiles, we can drop back to a position of insisting on non-deployment of missiles and an undertaking by the Israelis to keep any further production secret.
1. General Approach. The venue for our negotiations with the Israelis should be kept in Washington. Ambassador Barbour in Tel Aviv would be kept informed in detail of the negotiations as they proceed and would be asked to reinforce our representations to Rabin whenever this appeared desirable.
2. First Meeting. Ambassador Rabin would be asked to call upon Under Secretaries Richardson and Packard meeting jointly. The Under Secretaries would say that in connection with Israel’s request to advance the delivery date for the first Phantoms to August, we wish to tie up loose ends left after the Warnke–Rabin negotiations in October, [Page 129] 1968, which led to our agreement to sell the aircraft.3 Accordingly, we would like to open discussions in Washington on Israel’s adherence to the NPT and related questions concerning Israel’s intentions with respect to nuclear weapons.
The Under Secretaries would stress the importance the US attaches to Israel’s adherence to the NPT. Israel told us last December it was studying the implications of adherence to the NPT;4 we would be interested to hear what conclusions the GOI has reached. The Under Secretaries would also refer to the Warnke-Rabin exchanges last November and say we feel there are some unanswered questions concerning Israel’s assurances to us on nuclear weapon forebearance. Specifically, we would wish to have Israel’s confirmation that possession of nuclear weapons as well as testing and deployment would constitute “introduction” of nuclear weapons. We would also like to pursue the question of the purpose of Israel developing and deploying a nuclear weapons delivery system—the “Jericho” missile—which can only cast doubt on its nuclear assurances.
At the first meeting with Rabin the US side would not explicitly link deliveries of the F–4s to the Israeli response on the nuclear question, but our reference to the request for early deliveries and the Warnke-Rabin talks would clearly convey the direction of our thinking. Rabin’s tactic will probably be to test how serious we are by refusing initially to go beyond the line Israel has taken with us in past meetings: that the GOI has not made up its mind about the NPT; that it has already given us assurances that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area, and nothing further is required. If he is unresponsive in this fashion, the Under Secretaries would make clear their dissatisfaction and ask Rabin to call again in five or six days time to continue the dialogue.
3. Second Meeting. If Rabin tries to stonewall us at the second meeting the US side would tell him that Israel’s uncommunicativeness on the nuclear question does not strike us as consistent with the high level of cooperation which Israel expects of us in support of its security. Israel’s [less than 1 line not declassified] also impinges directly on US worldwide security concerns and responsibilities. By the end of the meeting we should lay before Rabin precisely what we need, as outlined in section A above. We would make it clear to Rabin that a lack of response on Israel’s part raises a question regarding our ability to continue meeting Israel’s arms requests.[Page 130]
4. Subsequent. Having presented our needs, we would let the GOI formulate its response in its own time, allowing the approaching date for delivery of the F–4s to produce its own pressure on the GOI. Whenever and wherever the Israelis raised the subject of the F–4s, the response would be that, given the terms of the sales agreement and the uncertainties surrounding Israel’s nuclear intentions, there are serious doubts about our ability to proceed with deliveries of the F–4s so long as the matters under discussion with Under Secretaries Richardson and Packard remain unresolved.
This would have the effect of turning down the Israeli request for advancing delivery to August. However, no decision would be taken to alter the scheduled September delivery of the F–4s until we get an initial reading on Israeli attitudes and intentions.
5. Mrs. Meir’s Visit. When Prime Minister Meir gets here the President and other senior US officials would bear down on this subject, stressing that Israel’s decisions in the [less than 1 line not declassified] field have an important bearing on US security and global interests, and reinforcing our objectives as they have evolved in the meetings between Rabin and the Under Secretaries. The possibility should also be kept in mind that Mrs. Meir may make a special appeal to the President, saying that it is impossible for her government to sign the NPT or give us a bilateral commitment on non-possession of nuclear weapons until after the elections in Israel this October, and that in the meantime non-delivery of F–4s in September would hurt the Labor Alignment’s chances. Our response to such an appeal would have to be decided in the light of the way the earlier negotiations had gone with the Israelis.
6. Public Confrontation. The USG would take no initiative to make this a public issue. In the event that the Israelis maintain an unresponsive line with us and show signs of going to Congress in an attempt to undermine our position on deliveries of the F–4s, we should have ready a range of actions that the Administration might take to counter this move.
- Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–75–0103, Box 12, Israel. Top Secret; Nodis. The paper is attached to a July 12 memorandum from NSC Staff Secretary Jeanne W. Davis to Rogers, Laird, Wheeler, Richardson, and Helms. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text that remains classified. It was supposed to serve as the basis of a July 16 meeting of the special committee of the NSC, which the President cancelled after he approved a July 19 memorandum that outlined guidance for Richardson and Packard in their meeting with Rabin on the nuclear weapons issue. See Documents 38 and 41.↩
- In presenting our requirements to the Israelis, we would not go beyond this formulation. For our own internal purposes, we would decide that [less than 1 line not declassified]. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The negotiations occurred in November 1968. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1967–1968, Documents 306, 308, 309, 317, 330, and 333.↩
- See ibid., Documents 349 and 360.↩