/2/Airgram A-478 from Tel Aviv, February 7, is filed as an attachment to a February 22 memorandum from Handley to Rusk, which summarized reports suggesting that Israel's nuclear program might be moving at a faster pace than previously indicated. (Ibid.) A February 17 memorandum from Davies to Bunker, outlining NEA views on the Israeli desalting project, states, "Some recent intelligence reports suggest that Israel may be constructing a chemical separation facility and proceeding so far in the production of bomb components that assembly of a nuclear weapon could be completed in 6-8 weeks." It states, however, that pending a fuller assessment, NEA was inclined to view these reports with reservations. (Ibid., E 11-3 ISR) In a March 9 letter to Davies, Barbour commented, "I was pleased to see the NEA paper's cautious appraisal of recent alarming reports on Israel's nuclear activities and intentions. Such caution is well placed. Moreover, my own impressions from such information as is available to us is that Dimona is not running at full blast." (Ibid.)
/3/Barbour reported this conversation in telegram 2371 from Tel Aviv, January 16. (Ibid.)
Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, AE 11-2 ISR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Sterner; cleared by Davies, Atherton, Handley, and Wriggins, and in substance by Trevithick and Rochlin; and approved and initialed by Rusk.