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John F. Kennedy Administration: Remarks on Israeli Concern Over Egyptian Missile Program

(April 3, 1963)

Excerpt from President's News Conference:

Q. Mr. President, Israel has been evidencing growing concern over the 'manufacture of missiles in Egypt, and unofficially has asked the United States to use its good offices with Bonn to discourage the use of German scientists in this endeavor. Can you tell us anything about that point, and, secondly, can you tell us anything about Israel's requests for more armaments from this country?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, the German Government itself has indicated its displeasure, and there is some question of whether it may be a breach of the law, the German scientists who are working on missiles, air engines, and airframes for the U.A.R. There is not a great number of them, but there are some of them, and of course they do affect the tensions in the Middle East. So I think this matter has been very strongly brought to the attention by the Israeli Government and by other interested parties who are seeking to diminish rather than increase the arms race in the Middle East.

Now, on the question of what military assistance we would give the Israelis: as you know, the United States has never been a supplier of military equipment directly to the Israelis. We have given economic assistance. The Israelis themselves have bought equipment, a good deal of it from France. We will just have to see what the balance of the military power may be in the Middle East, as time goes on. We are anxious to see it diminished rather than participate in encouraging it.

On the other hand, we would be reluctant to see a military balance of power in the Middle East which was such as to encourage aggression rather than discourage it. So this is a matter which we will have to continue to observe. We have expressed our strong opposition to the introduction or manufacture of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and we have indicated that strongly to all of the countries. So we have to wait and see as the time goes on. At the present time, there is a balance which I think would discourage military action on either side. I would hope it will continue.

Sources: Public Papers of the President