Is the United States changing its policy toward a nuclear Israel?
I've written an article on this subject. Here are the first few paragraphs:
Hot on the heels of an statement by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller urging Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Washington Times asserts that the US and Israel have maintained a secret accord for 40 years to keep from the public Israel's nuclear weapons capabilities. The Times' Eli Lake presents a declassified memo between Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon as evidence and writes that 'by the end of 1970, Israel would likely have 24 to 30 French surface-to-surfaces missiles, 10 of which would have nuclear warheads.'
An historical perspective is in order.
It was clearly in America's interests to avoid a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which would diminish stability an already volatile neighbourhood and surely engage the USSR in some way.
Since the Johnson Administration (1963 to 1969), the US has kept a close watch on Israel's nuclear aspirations and has repeatedly asserted the importance of keeping nukes out of the region. Throughout March 1965, State Department and Israel officials were engaged in heavy negotiations over President Johnson’s regional water plans. Johnson hoped to settle water disputes between Israel and her neighbours by proposing "an aggressive and imaginative program to advance progress in large-scale desalting of sea water.” The plan involved “a combination of large-scale nuclear power plants and large-scale desalting plants could produce power and water.” The nuclear weapons issue came up on many occasions, each time Israel insisting it was not pursuing nuclear weaponry.
The State Department, a recurrent thorn in Israel’s side, stressed the US position to Israeli authorities. "We've already made and remade every point...in far stronger terms, especially on nuclear weapons. I'm surprised Israelis still speak to me," wrote Robert W. Komer, the President's Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs.
In fact, Israel never denied the possibility of such a pursuit, reserving the right to do so depending on Egypt’s actions. Israel was convinced at the time that Egypt also had a nuclear agenda.
Nevertheless, the Americans remained certain that Israel was already pursuing nuclear weapons technology. "All indications are toward Israeli acquisition of a nuclear capability," wrote Rodger Davies, Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs. “There is little realization in Israel of the intensity of U.S. opposition to nuclear proliferation. U.S. hesitation and delays in pressing for the recent inspection of the Dimona reactor plus the failure to insist upon a two-day visit have led the Israelis to believe we are not serious."
The Americans at this point stepped up the pressure. The State Department informed the Embassy in Israel that an "offer to supply arms in the future [would be] carefully hedged and made contingent upon Israeli acceptance of undertakings on Jordan waters and on nuclear development..."
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