Memorandum on Dimona Inspections and the
(October 23, 1964)
Another document illustrating
the sensitivity over Israel's nuclear program
and the influence of domestic politics on
the timing of decisions.
101. Memorandum From the
President's Special Assistant for National
Security Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State
Washington, October 23, 1964.
The President has received a very private and informal approach from
Prime Minister Eshkol2 on delaying our next inspection
of the Dimona reactor, for which we are currently pressing. Eshkol recognizes
Israel has committed itself to periodic inspection of Dimona, though
apparently on an annual rather than semi-annual basis.
However, he has personally appealed for deferring this inspection until
after his elections in November 1965. He is concerned about charges
that he has opened Israel's reactor to inspection by other powers, and
contends that if he is compelled to honor his agreement it will jeopardize
his political position. Eshkol further points out that there is no possibility
that Dimona could be converted to military purposes in so short a period
The President would appreciate your recommendations. However, he would
not want to decide so sensitive a matter until after our elections,
which gives time for us to investigate the full implications of a delay
en route. In the meantime I suggest that we postpone any further diplomatic
approaches in Israel. May I also suggest that we ask John McCone for
an evaluation of the possible risks in an inspection gap which might
be as much as two years.
1 Source: Johnson Library, National Security File,
Country File, Israel, Vol. III. Secret/Sensitive.
2 The message was conveyed in a memorandum of October
19 from Feldman to the President. (Ibid.)
Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli
Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO,