291. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

[Omitted here is material unrelated to South Africa.]

4. Israel and South Africa: The Department’s Intelligence Bureau has completed the following analysis on the extent of Israeli-South African cooperation in the field of nuclear weapons development:

“Available information sheds little light on the nature and extent of Israeli involvement in the South African nuclear program, especially in the sensitive enrichment or weapons-related area. Since April, [less than 1 line not declassified] revealed nuclear cooperation between South Africa and Israel, possibly including plans to exchange nuclear-related materials. The nature of the material to be exchanged and the specific recipients could not be determined [less than 1 line not declassified] also revealed exchange visits by nuclear experts, but neither the duration of the visits nor their purpose.

—In April the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) requested a “formal proposal” regarding an “offer” made by the Nuclear Fuel Corporation of South Africa. In the same month, a South African firm was eagerly awaiting “samples” from the Soreg nuclear research center in Israel.

—In early June, a representative of the South African Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) visited Israel for consultations with the IAEC.

—In July, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office made arrangements for CSIR representatives to attend a nuclear-related symposium in Israel.

—[1 paragraph (3 lines) not declassified]

—Next week, South African Uranium Company representatives and members of the IAEC are scheduled to meet in Israel.2

These recent contacts between the Israelis and the South Africans presumably follow the arrangement announced during Vorster’s visit to Israel last year, which called for increased cooperation in Science and Technology. In the mid-1960’s, South Africa supplied the Israelis with a small quantity of natural uranium. We have known for some time that Israel and South Africa exchange information on conventional weapons and technology. There has been no hard evidence that they [Page 902] also cooperate in the area of nuclear weapons development, but this cannot be ruled out.

[1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]”

[Omitted here is material unrelated to South Africa.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 38, State Department Evening Reports, 8/77. Secret. Carter initialed the memorandum.
  2. Carter wrote in the left-hand margin: “Let’s prepare options for future contacts w/Begin re this.”