Miscellaneous Documents


Document 1. This undated cover note was written by Harold (Hal) Saunders, the senior Middle East official at the National Security Council to Bromely Smith, the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council. The note was written probably in the summer of 1968 and it concerns material about Israel's nuclear weapons. The specific material itself, as well as the other 'eyes only' reports from CIA Director Richard Helms, is still unavailable. However, the content and the tone of this cover note reveals the extraordinary sensitivity surrounding discussion of Israel's nuclear weapons.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library
For more information: Israel and the Bomb, 297-303.

Document 2. This is 5-page memorandum of the National Security council meeting on 24 May 1967, discussing the crisis in the Middle East. In a response to a question about nuclear weapons in the Middle East, CIA Director Richard Helms told the attendees of the meeting that no nuclear weapons existed in the region. Helms knew that some in his agency had suspicions about Israel's nuclear status, but he preferred not to raise these concerns at this meeting. Indeed, there are indications that around that time Israel assembled its first two nuclear weapons.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library
For more information: Israel and the Bomb, 273-276.

Document 3. This 2-page telegram from the State Department to Ambassador Barbour, dated 23 Feb. 1967, refers to a previous telegram from the Tel Aviv Embassy (A-478) which suggested that "Israel could be much closer to nuclear weapons capability than we had supposed." This was consistent with previous intelligence reports from late 1966 that indicated that Israel could be only "weeks away" from assembling a nuclear device. The possibility of nuclear-armed Israel was not welcomed by the Johnson administration which left these reports "pending" further assessment and verification. In this telegram the State Department referred to these reports and asked Ambassador Barbour to press Eshkol on the matter of the next American visit to Dimona. It is evident from the cable that Israel did not respond to the American request for the visit since November 1966.

Source: United States National Archive
For more information: Israel and the Bomb, 185-186.

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