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John F. Kennedy Administration: Intelligence Estimate on the UAR Missile Program

(December 4, 1963)

This is a Special National Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 30-4-63, addressing the UAR Missile Program and its implications for Israel.

The Problem

To estimate the probable developments in the UAR missile program over the next five years, and their implications for Israel.


A. By mid-1964 the United Arab Republic (UAR) may be able to deploy a few surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) capable of reaching Israel, but these missiles would probably have no more than a 500-pound payload, and a CEP on the order of 5-10 miles. They would not have nuclear warheads, and their military value would be trifling. (Paras. 1-6)

B. Over the next five years, the UAR will doubtless seek to produce more, and more accurate, SSMs. Because of high costs, inadequate production facilities, and shortage of competent personnel, we believe that the UAR is unlikely to deploy more than a few hundred SSMs, and the figure could well be substantially less. (Para. 7)

C. Israel's leaders claim that UAR missiles, despite their inefficiency, could seriously affect Israeli morale and disrupt mobilization, thus enabling UAR conventional forces to overrun Israel. In view of the inaccuracy, limited payload, and limited reliability of the UAR missiles, we believe it extremely unlikely that any UAR missile attack would have such serious results, at least for the next five years. (Paras. 10-13)

D. Israel has contracted with a French firm for 250 sophisticated SSMs [1 line of source text not declassified]. While the factors which have inhibited a new outbreak of Arab-Israeli hostilities in recent years still apply, the progress of the advanced weapons programs will raise tensions on both sides. In an atmosphere of this kind, there will always be the danger that one side or the other might initiate hostile action. (Paras. 14-15)

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.