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JFK & Israel's Nuclear Program: U.S. Seeks to Impede Israel's Nuclear Development

(August 30, 1961)

This letter discusses U.S. oppoition to Israel developing nuclear weapons.

Washington, August 30, 1961.

Dear Ros: We have read with interest your letter of August 14 forwarding an analysis of the probable impact of the acquisition by Israel of a nuclear weapons capability./2/

This is, as you are aware, a subject we have followed with the greatest attention. We have indicated to Israel at a high level on several occasions our opposition to proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. As you know, we sought, and eventually gained, the opportunity to examine the Dimona installation. This examination satisfied us that, for the present, the Government of Israel is not actively engaged in programs aimed at nuclear weapons production. We fully intend to press for future examinations of this sort at appropriate intervals. In addition, the President has been assured by Prime Minister Ben-Gurion that Israel agrees in principle to international visits to its nuclear installations by reputable neutral scientists. Arrangements for such visits are being discussed with the Government of Israel.

Should future developments make this appear desirable, we would not hesitate to re-affirm to Israel in strong terms our belief that it is not in the interest of Israel or of this country that Israel engage in programs aimed at nuclear weapons production. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

I am hopeful that our continued close attention to this problem along the lines indicated above will prevent the development of a nuclear weapons capacity by Israel.

With warm personal regards,


Dean Rusk/3/

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5611/8-1461. Secret. Drafted by Crawford and cleared by Farley and Kitchen.

/2/See Document 95 and the source note thereto.

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.

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