Monday, June 29, 2009

Nuclear Weapons In Middle East - 1966

Any of this sound familiar as well?

294. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, May 26, 1966, 5 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 12 NEAR E. Confidential. Drafted by Thompson and approved in S on May 28. The meeting was held in the Secretary's office. The memorandum is Part III of VI.

Nuclear Weapons in the Near East


Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, USSR

The Secretary
Llewellyn E. Thompson, Ambassador-at-Large, Department of State

The Secretary asked the Ambassador if he had any reaction in Moscow to the discussion they had had with respect to nuclear weapons in the Near East./2/ Dobrynin said he had understood the Secretary was not talking about a possible treaty, but rather the policy of our two countries.

/2/The subject was discussed briefly in the course of a wide-ranging discussion between Rusk and Dobrynin on March 18. According to a memorandum of the conversation, Rusk indicated the United States would be interested in a nuclear free zone in the Near East, provided that Turkey and Greece could be excluded. Dobrynin expressed skepticism as to whether Israel and the UAR would be interested in such an arrangement. Rusk expressed the opinion that both would be. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 70 A 4443, 388.3, 1966)

The Secretary agreed that a formal treaty might not be practical since the Arabs would probably not sign a treaty with the Israelis. Dobrynin said that the Soviets were not going to furnish any nuclear weapons to these countries and he assumed that we were not and therefore he had not pursued the matter further in Moscow.

The Secretary pointed out that if all these countries would accept IAEA safeguards, this could be a good first step. He went on to explain, however, that what he had had in mind was the possibility that both the Soviet Union and the United States might get these countries to give separately private assurances to us and we could then each tell the governments on the other side. The Secretary asked if there had been any discussion of this subject with Cairo. Dobrynin replied that there was not, to his knowledge, but it was possible that this had come up during the recent visit of Mr. Kosygin to Cairo.

The Secretary said he could tell the Ambassador quite privately that we were convinced that the Israelis were not planning to make nuclear weapons.

Ambassador Dobrynin expressed some skepticism and wondered how an arrangement could be made. The Secretary said he thought that if these countries assured us that they would not go nuclear, they would not do so. He asked if it was the policy of the Soviet Government that there should be no nuclear weapons in this area.

The Ambassador replied that there should not be any anywhere!

The Secretary asked if the Ambassador had had any discussion in Moscow with respect to keeping sophisticated weapons out of the Middle East, such as missiles. Dobrynin, without directly relating his reply to any conversations he had had in Moscow, said that he did not see much possibility in this area until the Big Powers took some steps toward disarmament and set an example
. Otherwise, it was difficult to convince these countries not to acquire such weapons.

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