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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • March 15, 1969

    Memorandum from Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs [ISA] Paul Warnke to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, 'Stopping the Introduction of Nuclear Weapons Into the Middle East'

    Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Warnke wrote this memo to the Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to alert him to the new reality that Israel may already possess nuclear weapons or was very close to that point. Warnke proposed that Laird “consider another serious, concerted, and sustained effort to push Israel to halt its work on strategic missiles and nuclear weapons.”

  • March 17, 1969

    Telephone Conversation Transcript, Henry Kissinger and William P. Rogers

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty for ratification and its chairman, J. William Fulbright (D-Ark), wanted to know where Israel stood on the Treaty. Believing that the issue should be handled at the White House level, Rogers proposed a meeting with Kissinger, Laird, and CIA director Richard Helms. Agreeing to schedule a meeting, Kissinger acknowledged that the issue was also “political.”

  • March 27, 1969

    Memorandum from Ralph Earle, Office of International Security Affairs to Secretary of Defense Laird, 'Stopping the Introduction of Nuclear Weapons Into the Middle East'

    Ralph Earle, a senior official at the Pentagon’s Office of International Security Affairs [DOD/ISA] who had worked closely with Warnke, sent Laird a memorandum, requesting a meeting with Rogers, Kissinger, and Helms on the Israeli nuclear problem. The paper further restated the recommendation to keep the issue out of the National Security Council process.

  • March 14, 1969

    Memorandum from Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard, 'Computers for Israel'

    This memo from Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard concerns Israeli efforts to acquire high speed computers for use in a weapons program, and recommends that the United States should oppose these efforts.

  • March 17, 1969

    Memorandum from Secretary of Defense Laird to Secretary of State, 'Stopping the Introduction of Nuclear Weapons into the Middle East'

    Colonel Robert P. Pursley, discussed the Israeli nuclear issue with other senior officials at the Pentagon, and drafted a memorandum that the Defense Secretary sent to Rogers, Kissinger, and Helms on 14 March 1969. Believing it is necessary to convey “a sense of urgency,” the memorandum restated the earlier [Warnke’s] points about the need for a meeting and included new intelligence about Israeli efforts to acquire high speed computers for use in a weapons program.

  • March 26, 1969

    Memorandum from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 'Nuclear Missile Capability in Israel'

    A proposal from JCS Chairman Earle Wheeler favored a presidential-level approach and the application of pressure. Wheeler presented a range of options but recommended a demand to “cease-and-desist” a specific nuclear-related activity.

  • March 28, 1969

    Letter from Secretary of State William P. Rogers to Secretary of Defense

    In his 28 March reply Secretary Rogers agreed that the computer issue needed more examination along with a further review of policy on sensitive technology exports, but he virtually blew off Laird’s request for a meeting and for deliberation outside of NSC channels. Instead, he advised that the Israeli nuclear problem be studied by the NSC Under Secretaries Committee.

  • March 29, 1969

    Memorandum from Ralph Earle, Office of International Security Affairs, 'Stopping the Introduction of Nuclear Weapons Into the Middle East'

    This memo provided Laird with a scheme for a tough approach to Israel that involved a demarche to the Israeli government for “cease-and-desist” certain nuclear and missile [excised] activities and a demand for private assurances and, ultimately, Israel’s signature on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). To seal such a deal Earle proposed an exchange of letters between President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Golda Meir, for which he provided drafts.

  • May 11, 1969

    National Security Study Memorandum [NSSM] No. 40, Memorandum from Henry Kissinger to Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Director of Central Intelligence, 'Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program'

    Kissinger initiated a formal bureaucratic process to address how the U.S. government should respond to the emergence of a nuclear Israel, a review process managed by Kissinger’s NSC staff, known as NSSM 40. Through the NSSM Henry Kissinger tasked the DCI, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to prepare a report for the President that included the latest intelligence findings on the Israeli nuclear program and policy options with recommendations that the President could use in making decisions.

  • May 30, 1969

    John P. Walsh, State Department Executive Secretary to Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, 'Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program—NSSM 40'

    This may well be the only formal written interagency response to NSSM 40.The State Department and the Defense Department agreed that Israel should sign the NPT and provide assurances not to produce nuclear weapons, but they disagreed on what should be done to get there.

  • July 18, 1969

    Unsigned Memorandum from Office of the Secretary, with enclosed announcement of meeting of Ad Hoc Committee on NSSM 40, and 'Talking Paper for the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff'

    The “Talking Paper,” prepared for the NSC Review Group meeting, summarized the disagreements in the inter-agency report. Nutter (Paul Warnke’s replacement) and Johnson both affirmed the need for high-level pressure; if the Israelis were unresponsive to US requests for assurances it would “affect our ability to continue the present US relationship with Israel.”

  • July 27, 1969

    Memorandum from Harry Schwartz to Deputy Secretary of Defense

    Harry Schwartz's memo to the Deputy Secretary of Defense concerns the possible delay of delivery of F-45 to Israel. The draft "Scenario" is referenced and Schwartz hopes this issue will be covered more extensively within it.

  • July 04, 1969

    Memorandum from Henry Kissinger to President Nixon, 'Israeli Nuclear Program'

    Citing the recent developments at the Senior Review Group, Kissinger proposed an NSC meeting on 16 July 1969 to discuss the Israeli nuclear problem.

  • July 14, 1969

    Memorandum from Deputy Secretary of Defense, 'Israeli Nuclear Program,' with 'Scenario for Discussions with Israelis on their Nuclear Program, and NSSM 40'

    Packard's plan detailed in this memorandum and its attachments allegedly represented a consensus of the Defense leadership, Kissinger, Richardson, and Helms. Using a tough approach, the memorandum's enclosed plan focused on getting Israelis assurances and signature on the NPTs.

  • July 19, 1969

    Memorandum from Henry Kissinger to President Nixon, 'Israeli Nuclear Program'

    The memorandum lays out substantive and significant line of thinking about the complex problem raised by the Israeli nuclear program. Kissinger thought it might be possible to persuade the Israelis that with all of the NPT’s loopholes signing it would not prevent them from continuing their weapons research and development. Kissinger also recognized the real possibility that the Israeli development momentum could not be stopped.

  • July 19, 1969

    Memorandum from Henry Kissinger to Richard Nixon, "Israeli Nuclear Program"

  • October 31, 1977

    Restricted Teleletter from J.E. Holmes, UK Embassy in Moscow, to R.B. Bone, 'South African Nuclear Intentions'

    J .E. Holmes, at the UK Embassy in Moscow, reports on Soviet news coverage of the South African nuclear controversy.

  • May 22, 1979

    Memorandum for Margaret Thatcher in Response to a Letter from Menachem Begin

    Memorandum with a briefing on both the Pakistani and Israeli nuclear positions and suggestions for a response to the letter from Menachem Begin.

  • December, 1979

    Interagency Intelligence Memorandum, US Director of Central Intelligence, NI IIM 79-10028, 'The 22 September 1979 Event' [2013 Release]

    This study begins, as the National Security Council requested, by assuming that the September 22, 1979 Vela event was a nuclear detonation. It discusses the possibility that the detonation could have occurred due to an accident, and noted the Defense Intelligence Agency’s suggestion that the Soviet Union might have had reasons to conduct a covert test in violation of its treaty commitments. But most of the study is concerned with other possibilities to explain the incident – a secret test by South Africa or Israel, or India, or Pakistan, or a secret joint test by South Africa and Israel. The 2013 release (which is currently under appeal) includes some information from a “Secret Test by Others” (Pakistan, India) and the map on page 12 that had not been released before.

  • December, 1979

    Interagency Intelligence Memorandum, US Director of Central Intelligence, NI IIM 79-10028, 'The 22 September 1979 Event' [2004 Release]

    This study begins, as the National Security Council requested, by assuming that the September 22, 1979 Vela event was a nuclear detonation. It discusses the possibility that the detonation could have occurred due to an accident, and noted the Defense Intelligence Agency’s suggestion that the Soviet Union might have had reasons to conduct a covert test in violation of its treaty commitments. But most of the study is concerned with other possibilities to explain the incident – a secret test by South Africa or Israel, or India, or Pakistan, or a secret joint test by South Africa and Israel. The 2004 version, in some instances, contains more information through page 10 than the 2013 version.