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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Kennedy Administration > Volume XVII
Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Volume XVII, Near East, 1961-1962
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 1-23

1. Telegram 626 From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State

Tel Aviv, January 5, 1961, 6 p.m.

[Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884A.1901/1-561. Secret; Niact. 13 pages of source text not declassified.]

2. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, January 9, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 984A.1901/1-961. Secret. Drafted by Jones (NEA).

Assistant Secretary Lewis Jones
Special Assistant Philip J. Farley
Senators Gore, Hickenlooper, Fulbright, Carlson, Sparkman (last three present most of the time but not entire time)

At the request of Senator Gore (Chairman, Near East Sub-Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) Jones and Farley presented themselves in Mr. Marcy's office in the room off the main Senate Foreign Relations Room. Senator Gore was in the chair. Messrs. Marcy and Newhouse of Committee staff were present but no transcript was taken.

Senator Gore told those present that he had given his word to the Department that there would be no publicity regarding this very informal" meeting. He said the issue was a sensitive one. The other Senators agreed.

Jones followed in his presentation the greater part of the document which he had brought with him but did not get an opportunity, owing to the interruptions, to describe the "side effects" of the Dimona reactor.

It was evident that all those present, but particularly Senators Hickenlooper and Gore, were annoyed that Israel had not only concealed its activity but had "deliberately misled" the United States Government. Senator Gore questioned closely Jones' statement that Israeli officials had told U.S. officials, when asked about the buildings lying 25 miles southwest of Beersheba, that it was first a "textile plant" and then a "metallurgical works". He asked whether there was a record of these statements by the Israelis. Jones said that he doubted whether there was more of a record than recent telegrams from our Embassy in Tel Aviv. Statements could have been made by Israeli officials who were not really "in the know". Senator Hickenlooper said that he had definite knowledge that the GOI had "lied" to an American official (whom he did not identify) in the late summer or early fall. This official "did not belong to the State Department". Asked whether it was Dr. Gomberg, Senator Hickenlooper said it was not.

Senator Fulbright said it was the secrecy factor which troubled him: if the Israelis had nothing to hide, as GOI statements indicated; why did they hide it? Jones explained that there was validity in the Israeli fear of intensified Arab boycott of its suppliers if reactor was constructed openly. The fault on the Israeli side lay in keeping the reactor secret too long: long after the buildings were plainly visible from a public road.

Senator Hickenlooper was concerned by the cost figures of the overall project. He did not believe the $5,000,000 per year foreign exchange costs for four years mentioned by GOI.

Senator Gore was concerned by the effect of the existence of the Dimona reactor upon the Arabs and wanted to know what firm evidence the Department had that knowledge of Dimona had driven them into the hands of the Russians. He was interested in the January 28 meeting of the Arab League and wondered whether any drastic decisions would emerge therefrom. Jones replied that he felt at this stage the Arabs would confine themselves to talk--after all plutonium from Dimona was three or four years away. He said there had been an indication that Nasser had asked the USSR for help to build a 30-40 megawatt reactor in Egypt--comparable to Dimona.

The Senators appeared to accept the Department's thesis that another round of publicity would be unhelpful. Senator Gore asked Jones to advise him if "anything new" emerged from Ambassador Harman's call on the Secretary January 11./2/ Jones promised to do this.

/2/The memorandum of conversation is ibid., 884A.1901/1-1161. See Supplement, the compilation on Israel.

The Senators also appeared to accept the idea that if the United States were to take measures against Israel this might be a signal for intensified Arab action against Israel.

Senators Sparkman and Hickenlooper at different times expressed doubts that the United States could force Israel as a sovereign state to reveal full information if Israel did not choose to supply it. Both commented, however, that the United States had various means of pressure which it could apply to Israel if this needed.

The Senators also appeared to accept Jones' thesis that the problem of plutonium produced in reactors goes far beyond Israel--that it would be unfair to publicly brand Israel as a villain on suspicion that it might--three or four years hence--divert some plutonium to weapons. All reactors everywhere produce some plutonium. This pointed up the need for generally applicable international inspection and control.

The Senators listened with keen interest to Mr. Farley's elucidation of the kind of control which the International Atomic Energy Agency might exercise in the future and the present narrow range of its safeguards activities. Farley also explained in response to Senator Gore's request his views on the latest Soviet attitude towards suspension of atomic testing.

Senator Hickenlooper, towards the end of the meeting, said that he agreed that atomic energy is a coming thing. "Peacefully applied atomic energy is like electricity: whether we like it or not countries are going to get it". The United States cannot and should not attempt to keep countries like Israel from getting into the field. The problem is how to assure that atomic energy is used only for peaceful purposes.

In general, the discussion moved from the specific case of the Dimona reactor, about which Israel had been so regrettably secretive, to the more general problem of peaceful uses and control over comparable reactors elsewhere in the world.

3. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Macomber) to the Executive Director of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy (Ramey)

Washington, January 19, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884A.1901/1-1961. Secret. Drafted by Farley (S/AE) on January 17 and cleared by Meyer (NEA/NE) and Schnee (H). Copies of the letter and its enclosures were sent to the Atomic Energy Commission and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Dear Mr. Ramey: At the conclusion of the closed hearing on December 9, 1960, Representative Durham requested Mr. Farley to inform the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of subsequent information received concerning the Israeli atomic energy program. Mr. Farley subsequently advised the Committee staff that, at the first meeting between Secretary Herter and the Israeli Ambassador later on December 9, the Ambassador disclaimed any detailed knowledge of the reactor installation near Dimona. Our inquiries of the Israeli Government and also of the French Government have been pressed since that time. In accordance with the Committee's request and Mr. Farley's telephone conversation with Mr. Conway on January 13, the enclosed summary of the information obtained is submitted for the information of the Committee. Also attached for your convenience is a compilation of public statements./2/ Responsible officers of the Department of State will be available to discuss this information with the Committee if desired.

/2/Attached but not printed.

The official statements which the Israeli and French Governments have now given us are unequivocal as to the non-military character of the Israeli program and French assistance to it. We do not anticipate that these Governments will provide us with significant additional information in the near future. You will note, however, that we have been given formal assurance that visitors from the United States or another friendly country will be received when the present intense public interest in the question has subsided. We believe that this will be very helpful in providing first-hand reassurance, and we intend to follow up this offer at an early date.

Any possibility of proliferation of nuclear weapons--particularly in the Middle East--obviously is a matter of grave concern to the Department. We shall continue to follow this matter closely. We do not believe, however, that extended public speculation regarding the Israeli atomic energy program will advance the interests of the United States, and we have taken and will continue to take any feasible measures to damp down speculation on this matter and in particular to avoid giving occasion for renewed suspicions and possible undesirable reactions in the Arab world. We believe that persistent but quiet diplomatic approaches are most likely to be productive.

The continued cooperation of the Joint Committee in avoiding public comment is most helpful in this regard.

Sincerely yours,

William B. Macomber, Jr./3/

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


Washington, January 17, 1961.


Summary of Additional Recent Information on
Israeli Atomic Energy Program

1. We have been assured categorically at the highest level of the Israeli Government that Israel has no plans for the production of atomic weapons.

2. We have been assured that there is no third reactor in either the construction or planning stage. Israel hopes to have a power reactor in due course, perhaps in ten years but possibly no sooner than fifteen years.

3. We have been assured that Israel will be glad to receive visits by scientists from friendly countries at the Dimona reactor when public interest has quieted down. In particular, a scientist from the United States will be welcome as early as possible on this condition.

4. We have been given responsible assurances by the French that the French-Israeli cooperation program is limited to the 24 megawatt research reactor, that the French will supply all the uranium for this reactor, that the plutonium produced in the reactor will all be returned to France, that adequate arrangements have been agreed upon to assure the exclusively peaceful use of the reactor, and that resident French inspectors or periodic inspection visits will be accepted. The French assured us that they do not want to be associated with any Israeli nuclear weapons program, that they have urged public assurances of peaceful intention by the Israelis, and that they support our efforts to this same end.

5. Specific information on the Dimona reactor is the following:

a. The reactor will go critical in about three to four years and is now in the second year of construction.

b. There is no plutonium now in Israel and plutonium from the reactor will, as a condition attached to purchase of uranium abroad, return to the supplying country.

c. Israel is producing only experimental quantities of heavy water and of uranium from phosphate.

d. No power generation is to be attempted in connection with the Dimona reactor, which is intended to provide general experience and know-how as well as a more effective research tool.

e. The stack visible in ground photographs is a water tower for this water-cooled reactor.

f. The incoming 100 KVA power lines are explained by the fact that the reactor installation serves as a distribution point not only for the reactor complex but for phosphate mining operations and a potash plant in the area.

g. In addition to the reactor the complex will include a hot laboratory, cold laboratory, waste disposal plant, a facility for rods, offices including library services, and a medical unit.

h. The reactor and ancillary facilities are expected to cost $34 million of which $17.8 million would be foreign exchange. The reactor itself is expected to cost $15.4 million of which $10 million would be foreign exchange.

6. The secrecy initially attached to the reactor arose from the fears of participating foreign companies over the prospect of Arab boycott.

7. While Israel accepts the general principle of international safeguards to assure the peaceful use of atomic energy, it believes also in equality; thus it does not propose to open the Dimona reactor to international inspection until such inspection applies to comparable reactors everywhere.

4. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara


Washington, January 26, 1961.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Iran 000.1-1961. Top Secret.

U.S. Courses of Action in Iran (U)

1. Reference is made to a memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, dated 10 October 1960, subject: Reassessment of the Military Importance of CENTO to the United States./2/

/2/Not printed.

2. By reference, the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed the views that:

a. CENTO, which incorporates Iran into the alliance system, represents a vital connecting link in the U.S. sponsored and supported collective security system stretching generally around the periphery of the Communist Bloc.

b. Iran today is the soft spot in the CENTO defense alliance.

c. Loss of Iran to the West would destroy CENTO, drive a wedge between NATO and SEATO, threaten Western access to Middle East oil, and expose the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa to further Soviet penetration and expansion.

3. The government of Iran, personally dominated by the Shah, is perennially threatened by dissident elements within Iran. In recent months, factors militating against the stability of the region include inflation and other economic difficulties, the so-far unsuccessful land reform program, Soviet propaganda and subversive efforts, and the long deferral of free elections. In addition, the Shah is known to view the recent overthrow of the governments in Korea and Turkey with apprehension.

4. U.S. national policy toward Iran (NSC 6010)/3/ recognizes that under present circumstances it is to the U.S. interest to support the Shah's regime, but also provides that the United States should be prepared to disassociate itself from the Shah should he appear likely to be overthrown. The OCB plan for Iran/4/ provides guidance for personnel in the field to influence the Shah in the direction of ameliorating domestic conditions. However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are concerned that plans for Iran may not have taken fully into account the numerous and varied possibilities of political crisis in Iran which may call for U.S. military action of some kind. This action could range from assistance in counter-subversion efforts to implementation of the contingency plan of CINCNELM, which provides for military action in somewhat general terms. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and CINCNELM could improve military contingency plans if the political guidance to deal with diverse possible crises were more specific.

/3/Dated July 6, 1960; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XII, pp. 680-688.

/4/Not printed. (Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385)

5. In view of the variety of possible crises in Iran, and in order to further the objective of increasing the viability and effectiveness of CENTO, the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that U.S. policy should be supported by the provision of additional feasible courses of action, political and military, for dealing with emergencies in Iran.

6. As indicated by the proposed memorandum the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that any regime which would replace that of the Shah at this time, whether communist or non-communist, would be less Western-oriented and would therefore, represent a net loss to U.S. interests in the Middle East. This assessment is based upon the absence of any constructive pro-Western alternative regime, as recognized in NSC 6010. It would, therefore, appear to be in the best interest of the United States at present to support the Shah's government by all appropriate means. Nevertheless, recognizing the possibility that events may result in the sudden removal of the Shah from the scene, plans are required for supporting a pro-Western successor, such as a regency, or a carefully selected friendly faction.

7. It is recommended that you forward a memorandum to the Secretary of State along the lines suggested in the Appendix hereto in order to initiate the development of appropriate alternative national courses of action for Iran./5/

/5/Attached but not printed. On January 30, Lemnitzer expressed his concern about the situation in Iran to Secretary Rusk. Subsequently, Bowles directed the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs to prepare a brief summary of the current internal political situation in Iran. (Memorandum from Bowles to Jones, February 6; ibid., PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Iran 1958-1961) The paper, prepared by the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs on February 11, and a subsequent one of March 20 were transmitted to the National Security Council on March 27. See Document 27.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

L. L. Lemnitzer/6/
Joint Chiefs of Staff

/6/Printed from a copy that indicates Lemnitzer signed the original.

5. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy

Washington, January 30, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884A.1901/1-3061. Secret. Drafted by Meyer (NEA/NE).

Israel's Atomic Energy Activities

In 1955 under the "Atoms-for-Peace" program the United States undertook to assist Israel with its atomic energy development program. Subsequently a one megawatt research reactor was built with our aid at Nahal Rubin, near Tel Aviv.

In the summer and early fall of 1960 rumors reached our Embassy at Tel Aviv that the French were collaborating with the Israelis in the construction of a large reactor at Dimona, near Beersheba, in the northern part of the Negev desert. After our intelligence agencies had established on December 2 that a significant atomic installation was in fact being built near Beersheba, Secretary Herter on December 9 called in Israeli Ambassador Harman who undertook to obtain full information from his government. After a number of exchanges, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion gave us categoric assurances supported by appropriate public statements to the effect that Israel does not have plans for developing nuclear weaponry. The French have also assured us that their assistance is premised on Israel's atomic energy program being solely for peaceful purposes. Ben-Gurion had indicated that aside from normal military precautions the reason for Israel's extreme secrecy with respect to the Dimona project was his fear and that of the foreign firms assisting the project that the Arab states would boycott or take other retaliatory measures against any firm or even country assisting the project. There is considerable justification for this Israeli reasoning.

Our government's concern was two-fold: a) pursuant to Congressional legislation and firm executive branch policy the United States is opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities; and b) Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons would have grave repercussions in the Middle East, not the least of which might be the probable stationing of Soviet nuclear weapons on the soil of Israel's embittered Arab neighbors.

The Israeli and French assurances which we have received appear to be satisfactory, although several minor questions still require clarification. In any case, the Department considers this not a single episode but a continuing subject and it is the intention of our intelligence agencies to maintain a continuing watch on Israel as on other countries to assure that nuclear weapons capabilities are not being proliferated. At the moment, we are encouraging the Israelis to permit a qualified scientist from the United States or other friendly power to visit the Dimona installation. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion has indicated that this may be possible at an early date.

A full chronology of our interest in Israel's atomic energy activities is attached in the event that it may be of interest to you./2/

/2/Attached but not printed.

Dean Rusk/3/

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

6. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, January 31, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, NEA/NE Files: Lot 63 D 33, Tel Aviv. Secret. Drafted by Hamilton (NEA/NE) on February 2.

Ambassador Reid's Review of His Conversation with President Kennedy

/2/Ambassador Reid met with President Kennedy from 11:14 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. on January 31. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Books) Reid completed his mission as Ambassador to Israel on January 19.

Ambassador Ogden R. Reid
NE--William L. Hamilton
NE--William R. Crawford, Jr.

(Ambassador Reid spent forty-five minutes in the President's office, during which the President excused himself to see another visitor for a few minutes in an adjoining room. It is my impression that the President permitted Ambassador Reid to develop the conversation as he chose, expressing views of his own infrequently, if at all).

Peace with the Arabs: Ben-Gurion has some power to maneuver on his own initiative, and would make reciprocal concessions in order to obtain a "de facto peace". This would have to be achieved on a very secret basis, the participants communicating only through the most carefully guarded channels. Any U.S. contribution would have to be on a basis of direct contact with Ben-Gurion. He informed the President of Ben-Gurion's support for the type of contact known as the "Anderson mission,"/3/ which he explained in some detail when the President indicated he had not previously heard of this effort.

/3/Reference is to the mission of Robert B. Anderson, Special Emissary for President Eisenhower to the Middle East, January-March 1956. Documentation on his special mission is in Foreign Relations, 1955-1957, volume XV.

USSR Relations with the UAR: Ambassador Reid said he told the President that the UAR's dependence on the USSR can be expressed in terms of three "screws" that the latter can twist as it wishes to bring pressure on Egypt. These are (1) cotton purchases, (2) arms supply, and (3) the Aswan Dam and other economic aid. The West could reduce Soviet influence if it could substitute Western effort for some or all of these activities.

Israel's New Atomic Reactor: The Ambassador told the President he believes we can accept at face value Ben-Gurion's assurances that the reactor is to be devoted to peaceful purposes. An inspection of the reactor by a qualified United States scientist can be arranged when the United States wishes, if it is done on a secret basis. Overt examination and announcement of the result to the world will require greater effort, but could be done. [2 lines of source text not declassified] Reid suspects that very few people in Israel knew of the development's true character, possibly not even the Foreign Minister, Golda Meir, until it hit the headlines.

Arms Balance in the Israel-Arab Complex: Ambassador Reid apparently made a detailed presentation of the Israel case for more sophisticated weaponry to protect itself against surprise air attack by the UAR. The Ambassador accepts the Israel estimate that its population centers are only four minutes from Damascus by supersonic aircraft. Ambassador Reid urged United States consideration of ballistic missiles for Israel and more specific assurances of our willingness to help in case of invasion, as moves that will contribute to stability in the Middle East. He told the President of our offer, now outstanding, of early-warning equipment, which Israel is studying. He suggested that we try to shorten delivery times for these items.

Aid to Africa: Ambassador Reid reviewed at some length Israel's technical assistance efforts with the new states of Africa, apparently giving them a high rating for effectiveness, and suggesting that the United States would be well advised to keep Israel in mind as offering an adjunct to Western efforts in Africa. He told the President that Ben-Gurion is now disappointed he did not mention Israel's African program when they met last year.

State of the Union and Inaugural Messages:/4/ Ambassador Reid told the President he had been struck by the phrase on accepting "the risk of leadership" and the President's reference to time not necessarily being on our side. He said the President had told him his omission of the Middle East in his messages had not been deliberate or an evidence of his indifference to the problems of the area. On the contrary, the President, according to Ambassador Reid, said he is very much interested in ways in which peace might be achieved.

/4/For texts of President Kennedy's inaugural address of January 20 and his first State of the Union address on January 30, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pp. 1-3 and 19-28.

The Lavon Affair:/5/ According to Ambassador Reid, the President expressed interest in the Lavon affair, and asked the Ambassador who he thinks would succeed to power if Ben-Gurion were to leave the scene. Ambassador Reid had replied Eshkol is the name most frequently mentioned, and had expressed the personal opinion that Moshe Dayan, former Chief of Staff, now Minister of Agriculture and long a Ben-Gurion protege, would refuse to serve in a successor cabinet which did not include Ben-Gurion. Abba Eban, former Ambassador to the United States and now Minister of Education, would have more difficulty making up his mind, but, as a tribute to Ben-Gurion might also choose to refuse a cabinet appointment. Ambassador Reid indicated he had told the President that Eban has made reasonably successful efforts to acquire a common touch, but still does not have the political sex appeal of Moshe Dayan.

/5/Pinhas Lavon, Minister of Defense, was forced to resign in February 1955 after a sabotage operation aimed at exacerbating U.S.-Egyptian relations was exposed by Egyptian authorities. In 1960, new evidence indicated that Lavon's alleged authorization of the operation was a forgery and he asked for an investigation. A committee of seven Cabinet members cleared him of responsibility amid charges between Lavon and Ben Gurion and Ben Gurion's supporters in the Ministry of Defense. Ben Gurion refused to accept the committee decision and resigned, thus forcing new elections. Additional information concerning the Israeli Cabinet crisis is in a February 7 memorandum entitled "Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's Resignation," presumably prepared in the National Security Council Staff. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, Israel, 2/61)

7. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, February 3, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Country Series, Israel General. Confidential. Drafted by Jones. Secretary Rusk forwarded to President Kennedy a copy of this memorandum of conversation under cover of a memorandum indicating that Jones had raised the reactor issue with Harman in response to a suggestion from the President. (Ibid.)

Israeli Reactor

His Excellency Avraham Harman, Ambassador of Israel
G. Lewis Jones, Assistant Secretary for NEA

Ambassador Harman called on me today at his request to discuss tactics in connection with the Arab refugees at the resumed United Nations. Having in mind the President's interest in the Dimona reactor/2/ and the few words exchanged with the Secretary February 2 before the luncheon for Loy Henderson, I arranged to see Harman alone before our meeting on the refugees. I told Harman that he should not take what I was about to say as an official démarche: instead it was talk between friends who were interested in US-Israeli relations continuing on a smooth course undisturbed by doubts and suspicions.

/2/On February 6, while attending Secretary Rusk's staff meeting, President Kennedy expressed his concern that the Israeli reactor might stimulate Egypt to press the Soviet Union for aid in nuclear weapons development. According to the memorandum of conversation, the President indicated that "this might make it urgent for us to push a public announcement concerning the peaceful uses of the Israeli project." (Department of State, Secretary's Staff Meetings: Lot 66 D 147)

I said that we fully accepted the statements of Prime Minister Ben Gurion with regard to the peaceful uses of the Dimona reactor. There was no question of doubting his word. We had, however, noted with pleasure his offer to invite an American to the Dimona site as soon as the publicity died down both in the United States and in Israel--the timing to be Ben Gurion's. The affair of the Dimona reactor having arisen in somewhat dramatic circumstances, the technicians associated with such matters maintain a keen and continuing interest in the quiet visit suggested by Ben Gurion. There was interest at higher levels as well: Ambassador Reid had encountered this in paying his calls around Washington. Moreover, the Arab neighbors of Israel not infrequently raised the question of Dimona and its potential use as a source of nuclear weapons.

Now Israel was in the throes of what appeared to be a political crisis. Ben Gurion had announced his intention to take four weeks vacation. Also he was still the head of a "caretaker government". Israel had a record of caretaker governments lasting for months. Could Harman advise me what to reply to the question: "When do you think Ben Gurion will invite someone to see the Dimona site?" Did he think that such an invitation would have to be delayed because of the internal political crisis?

Harman replied that: "In Israel no one is thinking about anything else except the political crisis. The parties are holding meetings which last for hours and hours. Ben Gurion can think of nothing except the reputation of the Mapai Party. I do not see how I could get to him or think that he would be inclined to give an invitation at this time".

Harman went on to say that in Israel the story of the Dimona reactor is very simple: They are building a reactor which will take some two years to complete. There is no plutonium. There is plenty of time. Ben Gurion has given all the assurances that anyone could and additionally has explained that he proposes to hand back the plutonium to the country supplying the uranium. The Israelis, Harman said, could not conceive why there should be continuing interest in Dimona in the United States or anywhere else. In good time, when there was something more to see, the visit might be arranged but no Israeli, let alone Ben Gurion, could conceive why there was such a hurry about it.

I said that I could understand the Israeli attitude being as he had described it but the idea of the proliferation of nuclear weapons was absolutely anathema to the United States and, although rightly or wrongly, the suspicion of obtaining such a capability had fallen on Israel. Since the United States and Israel are such close friends and since the offer of a visit had been volunteered by Israel it seemed to me it was simply good common sense for the visit to take place very quietly and without publicity at an arranged date. The fact of such a visit by qualified experts would be invaluable in allaying suspicions.

I reiterated that I was not giving a démarche. He and I were good friends and I was simply "tipping him off" with regard to a continuation of United States interest. I thought that when he paid his courtesy call upon the Secretary some time in the next ten days it would be an excellent gesture if he could at that time suggest a quiet visit by an American or some other friendly expert. Ambassador Reid had indicated that this would not be at all difficult to arrange.

Harman thanked me for the "tip off" and said that he would see what he could do. He was not sanguine of results because of the Israeli internal political situation. He himself indicated that he agreed with me that "getting the visit over with" would be a good thing./3/

/3/On February 11, Harman informed Jones that he was authorized to tell Rusk that Ben Gurion did not know whether he would be the next Israeli Prime Minister, but if he were, one of his "first pieces of business" would be to invite an American to visit the Dimona reactor. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Central Files, 684A.86B/2-1161)


Although Harman would have been far happier had I not raised the subject, because he will have difficulty getting anything out of Israel, I am confident that he considered my nudge a tactful one. I imagine that he will have something to say on the subject when he calls on the Secretary, which otherwise might not have been the case.

Since we spoke alone in an "off the record" manner I do not think that the talk with Harman described above should be cited as a definite U.S. approach in any future chronologies on this subject.

8. Paper Prepared in the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs

Washington, February 6, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/2-761. Secret. The source text is undated and bears no drafting information. The date and bureau attribution are taken from the transmittal memorandum. Stoessel sent this paper to General Goodpaster at the White House on February 7 under cover of a memorandum that reads: "In response to a telephone call on Saturday from Mr. Richard Goodwin of the White House, I am enclosing a memorandum concerning the Jordan River Development." Jones transmitted the paper to Bowles for transmission to the White House on February 6 under cover of a memorandum that indicates: "It is our understanding that because of the President's personal interest in this subject the White House would like to have this background information today." The covering memoranda are filed with the source text.


As a flank attack on the Arab-Israel problem and in order to forestall future conflict over Jordan River water resources, Eric Johnston was sent as a Presidential emissary to the Near East in 1953.
/2/ His purpose was to achieve a unified plan under which the Jordan basin's waters would be equitably divided among the riparians. Although his initial reception was not favorable, Johnston after two years of intensive negotiations produced a plan which was with two minor exceptions agreeable to Arab and Israeli technical experts. However, when considered by the Arab League at the political level in the spring of 1955, Johnston's plan was not accepted. Arab resistance to the Johnston plan or any like it is based primarily on the Arab conviction that any set of allocations which allows Israel to irrigate the Negev desert will only encourage new Jewish immigration thus inevitably generating pressures by Israel for territorial expansion.

/2/For documentation on the Eric Johnston mission, see Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, volume IX, Part 1, and ibid., 1955-1957, volume XIV.

A fundamental principle of the Johnston Plan was that all the reasonable needs of the Jordan basin must be accommodated. It was privately understood by the negotiators that once allocations were made it was each riparian's own concern as to what it did with its share. Thus the Kingdom of Jordan which is affected much more than any of its Arab neighbors was allocated water for full development of the valley, even though much of it is not now under cultivation. Jordan and Syria were to receive adequate shares. The balance which went to Israel was of sufficient magnitude that some 220/3/ MCM's would be available for lifting over the central Palestine highland to the coast and down to the Negev. There were also provisions for international supervision.

/3/This number is illegible on the source text. The number printed here comes from the copy sent to the White House. (Kennedy Library, Richard Goodwin Papers, Jordan River Development)

Although Johnston's efforts stalled, it was decided that the hard-won progress which he had skillfully achieved should be preserved. Accordingly, pursuant to a secret NSC decision in the spring of 1958, our government has through judicious use of its assistance quietly been assuring that any water projects undertaken by either Israel or the Kingdom of Jordan should be consistent with the Johnston Plan. To this end, the United States has thus far expended some $6,000,000 in financing the East Ghor irrigation project in the Kingdom of Jordan, while some $30,000,000 has been made available to assist in Israel's extensive and far sighted national water resources development program. We have written assurances respectively from Jordan and Israel that they will abide by the terms of the Johnston Plan, although Israel has made clear that its assurances are conditioned on Arab acceptance of a mutually agreeable plan within the reasonable future. This piecemeal but unadvertised execution of the Johnston Plan is feasible largely because 85% of Jordan's needs can be met by water from the Yarmouk River, which is the principal Jordan River tributary and which is almost entirely under Jordanian control.

A key future date will occur in mid-1963 when Israel begins withdrawing water from Lake Tiberias through a network now under construction which includes a 9-foot conduit for transporting water to the Negev. While the maximum capacity of this diversion system will within 10 years be 450 MCM's the Israelis insist that their planned withdrawals need not exceed the Johnston allocations. The Arabs, however, can be expected to resist strongly to any diversion and the possibility of hostilities cannot be ruled out. In recent months there have been a number of indications that the Arab governments are consorting as to what counter-measure might be taken, including the diversion of the Jordan's headwaters which rise in Syria and Lebanon. Such diversion for spite purposes only would be almost prohibitively expensive and only partially effective. It is doubtful if the Arabs will in fact undertake it.

During the past two years, thought has frequently been given to a renewal of our efforts to find a solution. Prospects for a change in Arab opposition have, however, not been bright. Eric Johnston, who has retained a keen personal interest in this matter, has on a number of occasions spoken with Arab and Israeli leaders informally. President Eugene Black of the IBRD has become interested, particularly following the Bank's historic success in solving the Indus waters problem. IBRD representatives a few months ago consulted with State Department representatives concerning the details of the progress achieved by Johnston and have indicated that at a suitable occasion the Bank might consider lending its good offices.

Whether or not a new effort should be made depends primarily on what decisions are taken with respect to approaching any of the various aspects of the Arab-Israel dispute, e.g. refugee problem, boundaries, security guarantees, compensation, Jerusalem, Arab boycott, Suez transit, etc. A full-scale "package approach" having failed in 1955 (the top secret Anderson mission), and in order not to inflame emotions in the present relatively tranquil Near East, it has been the Department's inclination to follow a "piecemeal approach", if a U.S. initiative is determined to be necessary. From the standpoint of urgency, either the refugee problem or the Jordan waters problem might be considered as initial targets. Because of Congressional restiveness over appropriating approximately $23,000,000 annually for the refugees and because this problem is a perennial focal point for argument at the United Nations, the Department's preference has been to focus first attention to the refugee problem. The Jordan waters problem, because it possesses some small rays of hope, might also be considered as first focal point. However, in an unadvertised piecemeal fashion of its own de facto progress is already being made on the Jordan waters problem and this progress might be jeopardized if a new Western initiative were undertaken. In any case, an approach to the Jordan waters problem should be coordinated from a timing standpoint with whatever other steps the United States Government may have in mind with respect to the general Arab-Israel problem.

9. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic

Washington, February 8, 1961, 9:12 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/2-861. Confidential. Drafted by Brewer (NEA/NE); cleared by Hart (NEA), Buffum and Stanger (IO/UNP), Coote (AFW), and Farley (S/AE); and approved by Seip (S/S). Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Jidda, London, Leopoldville, Tel Aviv, and Taiz.

1570. Following from uncleared memo of conversation:/2/

/2/The conversation was recorded in three memoranda of conversation that are ibid., 611.86B/2-761, 770G.00/2-761, and 884A.1901/12-761. Prior to the conversation, Talbot sent a briefing memorandum to Rusk on February 6. (Ibid., 601.86B11/2-661)

UAR Ambassador Kamel paid initial call on Secretary February 7. After expressing felicitations on behalf FonMin Fawzi, Kamel made following points: (1) common opposition to communism constituted "binding factor" in foreign relations USG and UAR; (2) UAR fears re both Zionism and Israel color Arab public attitudes, explain acceptance Soviet help and existing "coolness" in Arab-West relations. French assistance Israeli reactor is only most recent example steady Western support Israel; (3) Arab-Israel question should be put in "refrigerator" and not discussed in American political arena. Would be helpful if West also able influence Israelis remain quiet and reassure Arabs re threat posed by continued Israeli immigration.

Kamel concluded that "freezing" Arab-Israel issues would exert stabilizing influence in area following which specific problems could be approached through diplomatic channels. Hoped progress made in US-UAR relations since 1958 would be continued, with primary attention areas of agreement such as economic and cultural cooperation rather than points of difference. USG and other world powers could not afford be hypersensitive political criticism in Arab press. Small states like UAR, on other hand, had to react to such press criticism.

Secretary replied it was natural pay considerable attention points of friction between states but we should not of course overlook opportunities work quietly improve relations. There was great deal of progress which could be achieved. We intended to do our share and hoped UAR would also. Secretary recalled with appreciation Fawzi's customary readiness talk over problems and asked Kamel convey his personal regards.

Re Congo, Secretary noted we had indicated to UAR in Cairo general line US thinking. There was no "American plan", but we felt renewed discussions in UN forum would be useful in effort examine steps which might be taken move towards settlement. Congo would otherwise be drawn into vortex world problems. We felt it was not in anyone's interest except Communists for Cold War to be exported to Congo. Communists' tactics were becoming more sophisticated and effective in achieving penetration through non-military means. This development posed great threat to countries like US and UAR which opposed communism. We recognized UAR was critical factor in this struggle both in Near East and African areas and would like to keep in close touch in hope we could be mutually helpful./3/

/3/President Nasser conveyed his views on the Congo situation to President Kennedy in a letter of February 20. President Kennedy's reply was sent on March 1. (Ibid., Presidential Correspondence: Lot 71 D 370, Kennedy-Johnson--UAR, 1961 thru 1965) Acting Secretary of State Bowles sent the text of a suggested reply to the White House under cover of a February 27 memorandum for the President. (Ibid., Central Files, 770G.00/2-2761)

Secretary noted Administration has said little publicly re Near East. Kamel said he had welcomed this. Referring Arab fears Israel Secretary asked whether way might be found allay suspicions perhaps through some statement along lines Tripartite Declaration./4/

/4/Reference is to the statement by the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, issued on May 25, 1950, concerning the military balance in the Middle East. For text, see American Foreign Policy, 1950-1955: Basic Documents, vol. II, p. 2237; also Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. V, pp. 167-168.

Kamel emphasized new declarations or guarantees would only be regarded by Arabs as interference in area in support Israel. Would be preferable seek stability without talking about it which would only create trouble. Kamel expressed hope both West and Arabs could remain quiet and work to build up relations. This connection, he noted Arabs frankly suspicious new Administration due coincidence Truman administration and establishment Israel. However, he had sought explain to his government differences between "Trumanism" and new administration which he felt not unfriendly Arabs. It would nevertheless be important neutralize pressure groups here and UAR would take similar action against unfriendly elements there. Secretary noted quiet diplomacy useful improving relations between governments but not much help calming public suspicions. Kamel opined that, if US-UAR relations could be placed on basis mutual confidence, UAR would deal with Arab public opinion.

Secretary said he wished emphasize that we had been concerned at reports of Israel's nuclear development and intended to follow this question closely. We had received assurances from both Israel and France. These had made clear that reactor was for peaceful purposes and not for weapons production. USG opposed spread nuclear weapons and would make every effort remain currently informed re status and nature Israeli development this field. Kamel inquired what practical measures might be taken and suggested UAR might propose to UN that investigator be sent ascertain whether purpose reactor will be peaceful or not. Secretary cited IAEA and bilateral agreements on peaceful uses atomic energy as possibly helpful in satisfying Kamel's concern re practical measures but said could not reply in more detail without opportunity study.

As Kamel was leaving, Lewis Jones pointed out Israelis have requested two resident atomic scientists from IAEA for Weizman Institute and had taken position in favor international controls at recent IAEA meeting. Jones noted both developments would appear reinforce Israeli assurances as to peaceful uses new reactor. Kamel said he welcomed information and would include it in his report.


10. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, February 13, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/2-1361. Confidential. Drafted by Dozier (EUR/BNA) on February 15 and cleared by Meyer (NEA).

US-UK Bilateral Talks; The Middle East and the Arab-Israeli Problem


Lord Hood, Minister, British Embassy
Mr. D.A. Greenhill, Counselor, British Embassy
Mr. W.C.C. Rose, Petroleum Attaché, British Embassy
Mr. D.J. Speares, First Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. C.D. Wiggin, First Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. M.S. Weir, First Secretary, British Embassy

EUR--Mr. F.D. Kohler
BNA--Mr. W.C. Burdett
E--Mr. C.W. Nichols
NE--Mr. A.H. Meyer
OR--Mr. S.B. Jacques
WE--Mr. W.K. Cromwell, III
BNA--Mr. W.B. Dozier

Lord Hood said that our policies on the Middle East have been close in recent years and the U.K. wanted to insure that they are aligned in the future. The U.K. hoped that we would continue to talk over the various problems and would act together. Lord Hood said that the U.K. was hopeful that the present calm in the area, although admittedly uneasy, would continue. Nasser now seemed to be looking in the direction of Africa and this was perhaps a hopeful sign. The basic cause of unrest, however, continued to be the Arab-Israeli problem. Very little progress has been made there. The U.K. wondered if we had anything new, i.e., where we might go and how to get there, with respect to this problem and also the problem of Arab refugees.

Lord Hood said a new problem had recently arisen--the Israeli reactor--and he wondered if there was anything more that could or should be done to impress upon the Israelis how serious this matter was, and how necessary it was to obtain suitable safeguards. He said that he shuddered to think what the Arab reaction would be if they became convinced that the reactor was being used for weapons production. He asked for our views with respect to the general situation, the Arab-Israeli question, and the particular problem of the atomic reactor.

Mr. Kohler said that we shared U.K. apprehension about the reactor. The Norwegians were also concerned and were asking for more information before providing additional heavy water to the Israelis. Mr. Meyer said that we were in general agreement here with the British. We intend to keep an eye on the situation and to hold the Israelis to their stated intentions not to produce weapons. However, there are still a few loose ends. We feel that it would be useful to have observers from friendly powers visit the new Israeli reactor. Israel should feel that such inspection is also in its interests. Ben-Gurion's present disposition seems to be to let the publicity die down somewhat before taking further action; he, of course, has been preoccupied with his domestic situation in recent weeks. The French have also expressed concern over the possibility of weapons being produced by Israel.

Lord Hood asked if inspection is provided for in the atomic agreements with Israel. Mr. Meyer replied that it was in our agreement with the Israelis with respect to the small reactor we are providing. IAEA safeguards applied only to assistance provided by the IAEA. Mr. Burdett stated that the Norwegian agreement provided for inspection, although again not the IAEA system of safeguards. Mr. Meyer noted that Ben-Gurion asks why Israel should accept safeguards when India and others refuse. Ben-Gurion, moreover, fears that IAEA inspection would mean Russian involvement.

Mr. Wiggin observed that the problem was not only one of not producing weapons but also of convincing the Arabs that weapons were not being produced. The latter was probably the most difficult. Mr. Meyer concurred. Mr. Kohler said that certainly the main problem was to convince others. To do this we ourselves must know what is going on. Neither the U.K. nor the U.S. could permit atomic weapons to be produced in this area.

Turning to the general situation, Mr. Meyer said that the Arab-Israeli dispute, of course, goes back more than a decade and so far has defied solution. A major effort was made in 1955 to resolve the problem, but it failed mainly because neither side was prepared to make the necessary concessions. Then there was Suez. In recent years the U.S. and the U.K. have worked toward a normalization of relations with the area. The new Administration has been preoccupied with matters of more urgent concern, such as the Congo and Laos, and has, therefore, not had opportunity as yet to complete its study of the Arab-Israeli problem. However, it certainly was appreciative of the present tranquility. At the moment we have no specific proposals or initiatives in mind and in any event would be in touch with the U.K. should any major move be planned.

Mr. Meyer said that thinking at the bureau level tends to favor a "piecemeal" approach, rather than the "package" approach which failed in 1955. The annual presentation to Congress on refugee aid and the annual General Assembly hassle with respect to UNRWA argue for early action with respect to the refugee problem. Lord Hood observed that the refugee problem is not merely technical but is also a political problem. The U.K. felt that the only possible solution on refugees would be in the framework of a wider political agreement. Mr. Meyer observed that the problem would become more manageable if the Israelis could agree to the principle of repatriation. While there was no indication of a change in Israeli opposition, it might be possible if they could be assured that accepting the principle would not constitute a danger to either Israel's security or economy.

Mr. Meyer asked if the British have anything new on SYG Hammarskjold's thinking with respect to the Arab-Israel issue. Mr. Weir said that he understood Hammarskjold stated recently that he had no plans with respect to this problem.

Mr. Greenhill asked if we favored widening the PCC. Mr. Meyer replied that although we opposed such a move last fall, we were not categoric about it. It would all depend on whether such enlargement would serve a useful purpose. There are some recent indications that the Arabs themselves may no longer be so anxious to enlarge the PCC. In recent calls Arab Ambassadors have stressed that they think the whole question should be "put in the refrigerator."

With regard to the UAR, Mr. Meyer said that we were pleased with recent U.K. steps to improve its relations. Lord Hood said that the U.K. was well aware that the resumption of diplomatic relations has not changed Nasser, but it has opened up a listening post. Mr. Meyer said that we too have no illusions with respect to Nasser. U.K. and U.S. policies are parallel here; we favor neither embracement nor hostility. In his view, forces in the area have more effect on Nasser than Western pressure.

Mr. Kohler asked if there were any special implications to the British query on the Arab-Israeli dispute. Lord Hood replied in the negative, saying that they were simply curious. Mr. Meyer asked if the British would advise that no initiatives be taken. Lord Hood said that he did not think so. They liked the present calm but the fact was that the causes of friction were still there. If some useful "medicine" could be applied which would "retard" the "disease" that, of course, should be done.

Mr. Weir wondered how much of Nasser's cooperation with the Soviets was explicit arrangement and how much simply coincidental. Mr. Meyer said that Nasser appears to be driven primarily by a dominating ambition with respect to the three circles mentioned in his book, i.e., the Arab World, the Moslem World, and Africa. Mr. Kohler observed that you might call it opportunistic neo-colonialism.

In Mr. Meyer's view there seemed to be a slight pulling back in the Congo by Nasser after Casablanca. The latter may have provided a means of getting out of what he considered an unhappy situation in the Congo. He may also have come to realize how much he was being used by the Soviets. Another factor is his present difficult financial situation. Mr. Meyer emphasized, however, that this recent slight shift in Nasser's policy could be only tactical. It could be that with the latest developments in the Congo (Lumumba's death) the Russians will use him more than ever.

Mr. Meyer asked if the British had any views on the Jordan waters problem. Mr. Greenhill replied that they were of the opinion that the Johnston Plan was more or less a dead letter, i.e., it was not much of a starter. London, however, has not made any concrete proposals. He wondered if there was any problem here with respect to timing. Mr. Meyer replied that the issue may come to a head in 1963 when Israel starts diverting the Jordan. He noted that a hill in front of the pumping station provides some protection. Mr. Weir observed that the Syrians could probably lob shells over the hill.

Mr. Meyer said that he could not agree, that the Johnston Plan was a dead letter. The progress made on the technical level should be preserved and used. It was true that the Israeli structures have a maximum capacity higher than that envisaged in the Johnston Plan, but the Israelis say they are willing to abide by the terms of the plan.

Mr. Greenhill asked if there seemed to be continued pressure for Jewish immigration. Mr. Meyer replied that most of the sources seem to be drying up. In fact, manpower was becoming a problem in Israel.

Lord Hood said that he would like to touch briefly on certain other spots in the area.

Jordan--Lord Hood said that the U.K. hoped American aid would continue for Jordan./2/ As for the U.K. share, Mr. Dillon had been promised last fall that the U.K. would try to do a little more. He was now happy to say that the U.K. would increase its budget aid by one million dollars during the next fiscal year. The increase would be made available at the beginning of the year, that is, on April 1. A letter has gone to Mr. Dillon on this.

/2/Documentation on U.S. interest in budgetary support for Jordan is ibid., 785.5-MSP, 841.0085, and 885.10. See Supplement, the compilation on Jordan.

Mr. Kohler said that we were happy the U.K. was increasing its aid. We had pressed the Germans on this but so far without success. Mr. Meyer said that the U.K. increase reduces our share of the Jordan budget load from 85% to 83%. This is, of course, welcomed but we had hoped that our percentage could be reduced from the present 85% to 70%. The Germans have indicated that they might provide some project aid but budgetary aid is the main problem.

Iran--Lord Hood said that the U.K. attaches great importance to Iran. He was afraid that there will continue to be trouble there. The U.K. was now thinking seriously about the long-term problem, i.e., the prospects of the Shah surviving, whether or not to give advice, etc. The views of the U.K. Ambassador to Iran have been requested, and it was anticipated that the U.K. will want to discuss the problem with us in more detail in March or April. Mr. Kohler said that we were always ready to discuss Iran. He added that Ambassador Thompson in recent talks put his finger on Iran as a very special problem.

CENTO--Lord Hood said that the U.K. hopes that the U.S. will continue to support this organization. Mr. Meyer referred to the Secretary's expected attendance at the next CENTO meeting as an indication that the new Administration plans to give full support to these organizations. Mr. Kohler said that we agreed fully with the British on Iran and CENTO.

Persian Gulf--Lord Hood said that he was sure that the U.S. knew how important it was for the U.K. to remain in the Persian Gulf. The U.K. recognized that maintaining its position there opened it and others up to charges of imperialism. Nevertheless, they feel it is worthwhile not only because of the oil but also because the rulers and people of the Sheikdoms prefer the U.K. presence to a vacuum. The latter would be rapidly filled by Communist-inclined elements. At the same time the U.K. recognizes its responsibilities and is trying to move these areas toward a more democratic way of life, although this is admittedly a slow process. The U.K. hopes that the U.S. will be understanding and will give the U.K. its support.

Mr. Meyer asked if the U.K. might give us a timetable on expected developments in Kuwait. Mr. Weir replied that it was difficult to predict since the Ruler seemed to want to make haste slowly. Lord Hood promised to give us something at a later date on the Kuwait situation.

Saudi Arabia--Lord Hood said that the U.K. wanted to get back on good relations with Saudi Arabia and was working toward this end. To date, however, little progress has been made.

11. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones) to Secretary of State Rusk

Washington, February 15, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.11/2-1561. Secret. Drafted by Bowling (NEA/GTI) on February 14.

Call by the Iranian Ambassador and the Shah's Informal Special Emissary on the President to Deliver a Letter from the Shah


Our Embassy [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in Tehran have emphasized in recent reports the Shah's anxiety lest the new Administration change United States policy of support for Iran and for the Shah. We have also been informed of an upsurge in the Shah's concern over the level of United States' military assistance to Iran.

Despite our Ambassador's best efforts to dissuade him, the Shah has sent the chief of Iran's Security and Intelligence Organization, General Teimur Bakhtiar, to the United States with instructions to call on the principal officials of the United States Government and on other prominent Americans to discover what changes, if any, in United States policy may be forthcoming under the new Administration. The Shah has also addressed a letter to the President which he desires to be presented personally to the President by the Shah's representative. I am presently arranging for calls by General Bakhtiar on various officials of the Departments of State and Defense. The Iranian Ambassador, Ardeshir Zahedi, has asked the Department to request the President to receive him and General Bakhtiar in order to present the Shah's letter.

It can be expected that General Bakhtiar and the Iranian Ambassador will attempt to obtain from the President assurances of United States' sympathy and continued support for Iran and the Shah.


That you sign the attached Memorandum for the President recommending a meeting with the Iranian Ambassador and General Bakhtiar./2/

/2/The memorandum, signed by Secretary Rusk, was sent to the White House on February 16.

12. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, February 16, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5-MSP/2-1661. Secret. Drafted by Hamilton on February 20 and approved by the White House on February 25.

Israel's Security and Other Problems

McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Avraham Harman, Ambassador, Embassy of Israel
Mordechai Gazit, Minister, Embassy of Israel
NE--William L. Hamilton

Israel's Security Problem

Ambassador Harman remarked that the current quiescent state of affairs in the Middle East has prevailed for four years. Since 1958, the UAR's subversive efforts had been effectively checked in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. The recent Baghdad meeting of the Arab League had revealed the "roll-back" of UAR-inspired, nationalist trends among the Arabs, Nasser not having been able to dominate in the old manner. When Mr. Bundy said that perhaps the "roll-back" had "rolled" Nasser right down to the Congo, the Ambassador said the suggestion was not particularly far-fetched, that Nasser is a restless spirit and when checked in one area is obliged to seek an outlet elsewhere and Africa is now a major target.

Ambassador Harman said that despite the prevailing calm there are very important elements for anxiety in the Middle East, in general, and specifically for Israel. Of these, rearmament is the most sensitive. Egypt has been setting the pace since 1955, when it first began to acquire Soviet arms. Since the end of 1957 it has moved toward the acquisition of the Soviets' MIG-19, which by a large margin is a better plane than anything the Israelis have, and capable of delivering air-to-air missiles. When Mr. Bundy asked what type of missile, Ambassador Harman said that he is not informed on this point, but it is a certainty the MIG-19 would carry a missile because of its tremendous speed and high flight ceiling. It will out-match the Israelis' best jet, the French "Super-Mystere", and, accordingly, the Israelis are now dealing with the French for the "Mirage", which, however, cannot be delivered for another eighteen months.

The Ambassador said Israel has convincing evidence that the UAR already has the MIG-19's and that some may also have been delivered to Iraq. Furthermore, Soviet training crews have arrived in Egypt.

Asked if Israel believes the UAR's fighter-pilots are better qualified than formerly, the Ambassador said that the UAR has gone to tremendous and successful efforts to raise the quality of its training and inter-services coordination. The Egyptians had learned the most important lesson to be gained from their experiences in the Sinai, and have addressed considerable effort to improving the calibre of their officer corps.

Egypt's improved military posture has underscored a question, broached with the State Department over a year ago, of Israel's ability to meet a sudden air attack. The Ambassador described Israel as a small country with no defense in depth, a narrow ten-mile waist, and greatest dimensions no more than 50 miles by 350 miles. The UAR has twenty-six airfields in the two provinces, and by virtue of geographic advantage can shuttle back and forth over Israel, which has only three operational fields plus a fourth civilian airfield which could be pressed into use in a crisis. All this means that Israel's jet fighter capacity could be knocked out immediately and the country's communications system destroyed, thus creating great difficulties for man power mobilization, which depends on quick communications with a large reserve to augment a small standing army. Anticipating the vulnerability that is now rapidly developing, Israel a year ago asked the United States for anti-aircraft missiles.

Mr. Bundy asked the details of the Israel brief presented to the United States Government in support of its request. Ambassador Harman replied that Israel wanted the "Hawk", which he described as a purely defensive ground-to-air missile which cannot be used offensively but is ideally adapted to the purpose of defending Israel's airfields. The United States had expressed reluctance, according to the Ambassador, to introduce a missile of any kind into the area, but had assured the Israelis that if new factors emerged this decision could be reconsidered.

The situation is now developing as Israel feared, according to the Ambassador. The UAR has the MIG-19. Israel does not fear an immediate strike, but in its view must prepare for 1962 when the UAR will be ready to employ its new competence against Israel, if Israel by that time does not have a deterrent. The Israelis would like to begin preparing for this critical period by sending personnel to the United States for training in the operation and maintenance of the "Hawk". At the time the request was made, the Israelis had been informed that training facilities were "mortgaged" for some time to come, but if it were possible to begin training now, Israel would be in a state of preparedness from a man power standpoint, if at the time of maximum danger, the United States consented to provide the "Hawk".

Mr. Bundy asked the Ambassador how the latter would describe the present United States position.

Ambassador Harman said that the United States agreed Israel has a legitimate requirement for deterrent capacity; Israel's assessment that the situation is moving into a state of arms imbalance in the UAR's favor had not been contested in Washington. However, the United States did not wish to introduce offensive equipment in the Middle East and advised Israel to seek its major requirements from "traditional sources", principally the French and the British. The United States had agreed to sell early-warning equipment on three-year credit terms and an Israel electronics team recently completed a tour of United States installations and factories to become acquainted with the equipment. It has now returned to Israel, which is in the process of deciding whether or not to place an order.

At the same time, Ambassador Harman continued, the United States agreed to take into consideration the additional burden placed on the economy by Israel's defense requirements. While unwilling to finance such procurement directly, the Israelis had been informed, the United States would study the impact of arms expenditures in considering Israel's applications in the several categories of aid.

Mr. Bundy asked the Ambassador if he was reopening the request for missiles or merely signalling the fact that such a request was in the offing.

Ambassador Harman said he was not under instruction, even to signal the possibility of such a request, but that Israel is now reviewing its circumstances in the light of the UAR's acquisition of the MIG-19.

Ambassador Harman mentioned briefly the possibility of regional disarmament, which might be easily achieved in the Near East by agreement among the big powers, inasmuch as all countries there are obliged to look to the major powers for "deadly stuff". Because of the volatility of the area the introduction of each new device in the offensive field carries with it great changes.

Israel's Atomic Reactor

Mr. Bundy asked the Ambassador if Israel's construction of an atomic reactor does not represent the introduction of just the sort of sensitive factor he was speaking about.

Ambassador Harman said that Israel has no intention of manufacturing the bomb and the reactor itself is three or four years away from operation.

Mr. Bundy pressed the point of the development's impact on Arab opinion. Ambassador Harman replied that the manner of its revelation to the world had created unnecessary tension. It had "spilled out" in an unfortunate manner. Asked for details, Ambassador Harman said it had been leaked out quite unnecessarily, in truth had had an adverse effect in the area, Nasser threatening to mobilize four million men, all of which had been very unpleasant for Israel.

He said the sensational speculation was without foundation, and, as he had indicated to the Secretary of State, Israel has no intention for uses other than peaceful. A visit to the reactor, in which this Government had expressed an interest, probably would be arranged by Ben-Gurion if he were restored to power in the wake of the present Cabinet crisis. Mr. Bundy's suggestion that he had no doubt Ben-Gurion, who might be regarded as the Schumann-Heink of the political world, will inevitably return to Israel's premiership was received good-naturedly by the Israelis. Mr. Bundy pressed Ambassador Harman on the question of the legitimacy of Arab concern with the atomic energy development.

Ambassador Harman deprecated its importance. He said it is a small reactor, and if the UAR were to announce a similar development, even one much larger, to be dedicated to the same purposes intended for Israel's, his Government would not be concerned.

Mr. Bundy remarked on the magnitude of the expenditure which must be represented by such a development, but Ambassador Harman said that it is modest in scope, to be devoted exclusively to scientific experimentation and the training of a corps of scientists who, fifteen years from now, would be an important asset, if by that time the great powers had made a "break-through" to establish peaceful uses on an economic basis.

Ambassador Harman suggested again that the United States would be well-advised to consider disarmament for the area. A subsidiary benefit would be halting the flow of Communist arms to Africa. He said Israel intelligence reveals that Communist elements in African countries are receiving arms, not directly from the Soviets but with the UAR as an entrepot.

The Jordan River Problem

Mr. Bundy asked the Ambassador how he assessed the Jordan Valley problem and the possibility of outside help for its solution.

Ambassador Harman reminded Mr. Bundy of the Eric Johnston mission's failure to achieve agreement among the several riparian states for an equitable division of the waters, the Plan having been agreed upon by the technicians but failing when submitted to the Arab governments. Since then, he said, the Department of State had agreed to a modus operandi under which it would assist separate but parallel developments in Israel and Jordan which would remain within the limits established by the Johnston Plan.

When Mr. Bundy asked if this approach is feasible to the ultimate, full realization of the Johnston concept, Mr. Gazit said that the imponderable is the question of Jordanian ability, from the standpoint of its relations with its neighbors, to view with equanimity Israel's taking from the Jordan system its share of the water, probably starting in late 1962 or 1963.

He described the essence of the Plan as Israel's use of the Jordan River and Jordan's use of the Yarmuk.

Ambassador Harman indicated that the degree of political danger surrounding the start of Israel's diversion of the river would depend on Jordanian circumstances at the time. There would be no explosion if Jordan by that time were in a stable, relatively viable position. Mr. Bundy asked if there is covert communication between Israel and Jordan on such problems and was informed that there is very little, so little, in fact, as to amount to "no more than telepathy".

The Ambassador described Jordan's economic development as important not only in the interests of the Jordanians' welfare but because Jordan's continued existence is essential to the stability of the entire area, and for that reason deserves any infusion of strength that the West is able to supply.

Arab Refugees

Discussion of Jordan's contribution to the stability of the area led directly to a statement volunteered by Ambassador Harman that Israel has interested itself in and has discussed with the Department Jordan's economic development and the possibility of coupling it with efforts to move forward with the Arab refugee problem. He described Jordan as an excellent proving ground for efforts to disperse the refugees because there are no political or civil barriers between the refugees and the rest of the populace. If a pool of 100,000 jobs could be created in Jordan, it would draw off enough of the refugees to begin a dispersal from the camps and the disappearance of the problem. Mr. Bundy asked the Ambassador if he believes the Arabs are any more willing than before to consider solutions, not involving a return to Israel. Ambassador Harman replied that he finds hope in the area's heightened interest in economic development, which might make things possible now that were out of the question some years ago. The whole area is development-minded.

Mr. Gazit suggested that an intelligent development of the Yarmuk would provide 40,000 of the 100,000 jobs mentioned by Ambassador Harman.

After an exchange of assurances that the preservation of the present relative tranquillity of the area is much to be desired, the Israelis departed with Mr. Bundy's assurances that he would be glad to receive them at any time. He remarked, however, that problems of the kind discussed should in the first instance be approached through the State Department.

13. Editorial Note

On February 19, 1961, President Kennedy issued an executive order abolishing the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB), which, during the Eisenhower administration, had provided a mechanism for coordinated interdepartmental implementation of national security policies adopted by the National Security Council and approved by the President. The President's statement is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pages 104-105. With this action the President transferred to the Department of State a number of OCB responsibilities including the preparation of papers delineating regional and country policies. Between 1961 and 1963, the Policy Planning Council coordinated preparation of these papers that were drafted in the relevant geographic bureau and sent for comment to the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other U.S. Government agencies. A complete set of the final papers, various drafts, and memoranda containing comments on the drafts is in Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 67 D 396.

14. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, February 21, 1961, 4:02-4:35 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.8811/2-2161. Secret. Drafted by Bowling and approved in S on February 25. The time of the meeting is taken from Secretary Rusk's Appointment Book. (Johnson Library) Jones sent a briefing memorandum to Secretary Rusk on February 21 to prepare for this meeting. (Department of State, Central Files, 788.5/2-2161)

Call by General Teimur Bakhtiar on The Secretary

The Secretary
Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi, Iranian Embassy
Lt. General Teimur Bakhtiar, Chief, Iranian Security and Information Organization
Mr. G. Lewis Jones, Assistant Secretary, NEA
Mr. John W. Bowling, Officer in Charge, Iranian Affairs, GTI

General Bakhtiar said that his mission was to acquaint the new Administration with the situation in Iran and the very heavy burden which fell on Iran by virtue of its geographic position, its faithful efforts to enhance free world defense, and its limited resources. Iran must defend itself and the Middle East by ensuring both an adequate military defense establishment and a rising standard of living for its people. It cannot accomplish both these tasks at once without assistance from the United States.

The General said that the Iranian public could not understand why, if CENTO was a worthwhile organization, the United States did not join it. Iran was bound by its CENTO commitments to try to build a defense force, for regional purposes, which would be far larger than would be required for internal security purposes. Iran expends a third of its budget for military purposes, which does not leave enough, even with foreign assistance, to carry on economic development at an adequate pace. CENTO goals are set by a Military Committee which includes United States officers.

General Bakhtiar remarked that countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, which represent a threat to Iran, are receiving extensive economic assistance both from the United States and the U.S.S.R., and that they are being supplied with Soviet military equipment, particularly aircraft, far in advance of what the United States supplies to Iran. In order to be able to meet this threat, Iran should receive equivalent weapons.

The General said that one way for the United States to assist Iran would be to take steps to increase Iran's oil income, at the expense, if necessary, of countries like Iraq and Kuwait which do not contribute to regional defense.

The Secretary, in reply, said that the United States, in the context of its historic and continuing interest in the freedom and integrity of Iran, believed that Iran should have an adequate and efficient Army. Military planners, including those in CENTO and in the United States military establishment, set up desirable goals which are then adjusted downward to the resources available for their implementation.

The United States, said the Secretary, believes that CENTO is an important and useful organization. Despite the Secretary's feeling that, in general, Foreign Ministers do too much travelling, he attaches sufficient importance to CENTO that he intends to attend the April Council meetings in Ankara.

The Secretary said that the United States does not feel that Iran faces any threat of military force other than on her northern border. Should Iran ever be subject to hostile action by the Soviet Union, the United States, as well as other Free World nations, would view such action with the utmost gravity. Iran can be certain that she would never have to face such a threat alone.

The Secretary said that in his opinion, free nations must never lose sight of the fact that an effective defense against communism must rest not only on military strength but on the positive loyalty and confidence which depend on social and economic progress. The United States hoped to help Iran as necessary over the difficult phases of this advance.

The Secretary said that he could not, unfortunately, make any definite statements at this time as to the nature or levels of United States aid to any nation during the coming fiscal year. He explained that the administration was only one month old and that its foreign aid program was still being put together. As the General knew, the President had been occupied with measures to deal with problems of the American economy, which were of course of importance to all the Free World. It should be possible before long to make a more precise statement with regard to United States foreign aid levels, but it could not be done at the present moment. The Secretary expressed his embarrassment over the unfortunate timing whereby these factors induced uncertainty and inconvenience in Iranian budgetary actions.

The Secretary told the General that if he had come to "take the temperature" of the new Administration with regard to its attitude toward Iran, he could rest assured that the United States would take a lively and positive interest in Iran's progress, and that it would continue to cooperate with Iran and to help as it could within the tradition of cooperation between the two countries.

Ambassador Zahedi then expressed his appreciation for the help which Iran had been given in the past, and expressed his convictions that United States aid in the future would continue to be fruitful and positive./2/

/2/Bakhtiar also discussed increased military aid for Iran and CENTO with McGhee on February 21. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., 378/2-2161) Following that meeting, Bakhtiar complained strongly to Bowling that Iran was not being given equal treatment with Turkey and that the Shah would leave CENTO unless he was led to believe that increased United States aid would make it worthwhile for him to remain. He termed his discussion with McGhee on these matters as "not satisfactory." (Memorandum from Jones to McGhee, February 23; ibid., 788.5/2-2361)

15. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Stoessel) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, February 24, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5-MSP/2-2461. Secret. Drafted by Hamilton and cleared by Strong and Meyer.

Ambassador Harman's Call on February 16

I enclose for your approval prior to distribution, a memorandum reporting the conversation between you and Israel Ambassador Avraham Harman at your office on February 16./2/

/2/Document 12. A copy of the memorandum of conversation is attached to the source text.

In accordance with the interest which you expressed following the meeting, there follows Department comment pertinent to some of the points raised by Ambassador Harman:

1. Ambassador Harman suggested that the Soviet MIG-19, which he believes the UAR is now receiving, is greatly superior to the best fighter plane the Israelis now have, the French "Super-Mystere".

(It is the Department's understanding that the "Super-Mystere" is virtually on a par with the MIG-19, although the latter may have points of superiority under some circumstances. According to the Department's information, the French "Mirage", which the French have agreed to supply to the Israelis, is much superior to the MIG-19. A performance table for the three aircraft, MIG-19, "Super-Mystere", and "Mirage", is enclosed for your information.)/3/

/3/Not printed; the other attachments are filed with the original of this memorandum in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, Israel, 2/61.

2. Ambassador Harman stated that the United States Government declined to furnish a ground-to-air missile, the "Hawk", but assured the Israelis that the decision could be reconsidered if new factors emerged.

(The United States declined because of its reluctance to have a weapon of this sophistication introduced into the Middle East, inevitably producing a dangerous new element in the never-ending pursuit of better arms. United States "willingness" to reconsider was expressed by heavily pressed United States officials, who stressed that the inference was not to be drawn that reconsideration would change the United States position. A copy of the paper on which the decision to decline to furnish the "Hawk" was based is enclosed for your information./4/ The Department regards these judgments as still valid.)

/4/The document, entitled "Considerations Bearing on Israel's Request for Hawk Missiles," is the same as the body of a memorandum from Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Jones to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Merchant, dated July 7, 1960; see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XIII, pp. 344-349.

3. The Israel Ambassador said the United States, although unable to finance Israel's arms procurement, would take it into account in considering Israel's applications in the several categories of aid.

(The Department's position has consistently been that Israel's applications for aid and loans must be justified on economic grounds. We have carefully refrained from affirming the Israelis' proposition that an expanded Israel military burden will produce an expanded program of United States aid and loans to Israel. It has been stressed that a country's security expenditures are only one facet of many studied in determining its eligibility for assistance.)

4. Ambassador Harman expressed unhappiness with the manner in which Israel's nuclear development came to the public's attention.

(A project of such significance was bound to become public knowledge sooner or later. It had already been under way for perhaps two years. Our Government endeavored to keep the matter secret while waiting for Israel's official explanation, but was forced to comment when the story "broke" in rather sensational terms in the British press. There is considerable justification for the Israel contention that they were compelled to maintain tight security for fear of Arab harassment of the project. A number of Congressional leaders remain unhappy that the Israelis kept a development of this importance secret from the United States in a period when they were operating on a basis of special confidence to press highly sensitive requests for arms and economic assistance.)

5. The Israel Minister, Mordechai Gazit, suggested that in its essentials the Johnston Plan for the Jordan Valley could be reduced to allotting the Jordan River to Israel and its tributary, the Yarmuk, to the Kingdom of Jordan.

(According to the Johnston Plan, Israel would be obliged to deliver to the Kingdom of Jordan 100 million cubic meters of Jordan River water, about 15-20% of the utilizable total flow of the Jordan River. Furthermore, the Kingdom of Jordan would realize its full expectations from the Yarmuk only if some of that tributary's spring flood waters were trapped and stored in Lake Tiberias, which is completely under Israel's control. It was because of such obligations between the riparians that the Johnston Plan provided for an international water master. While the Kingdom of Jordan might realize up to 85% of its needs from the Yarmuk, providing a storage dam were built at Maqarin upstream, Jordan's fair share, as calculated under the Johnston Plan, can be fully realized only by physical concessions from Israel.)

Walter J. Stoessel, Jr./5/

/5/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature above which are unidentified handwritten initials.

16. National Intelligence Estimate

NIE 34-61

Washington, February 28, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 86 D 189, 1961 General. Secret. According to a note on the cover sheet: "The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, The Joint Staff, and the National Security Agency." All members of the U.S. Intelligence Board concurred in the estimate except for the Atomic Energy Commission representative and the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.


The Problem

To analyze major developments and trends in Iran and to estimate their consequences in the political, economic, and foreign policy fields.


1. Authority in Iran is concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of the Shah, whose rule rests primarily on the loyalty of the military and security forces. Despite the attention which has been lavished on the armed forces, their capabilities remain low. The growing political unrest of the urban middle class is being manifested more openly than in previous years against the Shah's blatant rigging of elections for the Majlis (lower house of parliament). Although the Tudeh (Iranian Communist Party) remains neutralized, non-Communist civilian politicians show little promise of effective leadership. (Paras. 6-15)

2. While a political upheaval could take place in Iran at any time, on the whole, we believe the odds are against such a development in the next year or so. However, profound political and social change in one form or another is virtually inevitable. The nature of Iranian politics and the character of the Shah make it unlikely that this change will be evolutionary. Possibilities for sudden change lie in a move against the Shah by some of his senior military commanders or an alliance between younger military officers and nationalist civilians. At present, neither eventuality would appear likely to result in improved stability in Iran. (Paras. 16-21)

3. Iran's economic prospects for the next year or two are not bright: inflation will probably continue; balance of payments deficits will keep foreign exchange reserves low and force foreign borrowing. Nevertheless the new stabilization program holds some promise for putting Iran's finances in order and for developing responsible and competent economic management. The major determining factor of Iran's long-term economic success probably will be the willingness of the Shah to support those who are seeking to modernize the country's economic institutions and practices. In view of the unpalatable political choices involved, and the Shah's past performances, we believe the Shah is unlikely to take any vigorous action to promote economic reforms. (Paras. 22-30)

4. Assuming that the Shah remains in power and continues to enjoy US support, we foresee little change in Iran's international position in the next year or so. A continuing problem for the US will probably be how to give the Shah sufficient support to preserve his present pro-Western policy without encouraging excessive demands for aid. (Paras. 32-34)

5. For the short run, we think the odds are against a break in the stalemate in Iran's relations with the USSR which has persisted for the past two years. Over the longer term, it is possible that Iran and the USSR may achieve some kind of modus vivendi, which might eventually be broadened to include Soviet economic and perhaps even military aid for Iran. The chances of such an accommodation would be much greater should the Shah become convinced that the US was withdrawing or significantly reducing its support for him. (Paras. 36-38)

[Here follows the 7-page Discussion section; see Supplement, the compilation on Iran.]

17. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, March 1, 1961, 3:07-3:25 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.5-MSP/3-161. Secret. Drafted by Schott (NEA/GTI) and approved by the White House on March 21. The time of the meeting is taken from President Kennedy's Appointment Book. (Kennedy Library) A briefing memorandum, sent from Secretary Rusk to President Kennedy in preparation for the meeting, is in Department of State, Central Files, 788.11/2-2861.

Conversation Between President Kennedy and Lieutenant General Teimur Bakhtiar

The President
Lieutenant General Teimur Bakhtiar, Assistant to the Prime Minister of Iran and Chief of the Security and Information Organization (SAVAK)
Dr. Khosro Khosrovani, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Iranian Embassy
Mr. G. Lewis Jones, Assistant Secretary, NEA
Mr. Robert R. Schott, Officer in Charge, Greek Affairs, GTI

General Bakhtiar called on the President by appointment at 3:00 p.m., March 1, 1961, to present a letter from the Shah of Iran./2/

/2/Not printed. On March 17, Rusk forwarded to Kennedy a proposed reply to the Shah's letter. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.88/3-1761) The President's response to the Shah was transmitted to the Embassy in Tehran in telegram 1101, March 24. (Ibid., 788.5-MSP/3-2461) For text, see Supplement, the compilation on Iran.

The President, after reading the letter, commenting on the military-economic foreign aid aspects thereof, stated his Administration had the matter of aid currently under study. The President envisaged by the end of March the recommendations would probably be completed and submitted. It was his understanding the Iranian fiscal year began March 22 and, consequently, a period would elapse before the Shah would be informed about the questions raised in His Majesty's letter. The President hoped, however, the Shah would understand the difficulties facing his new Administration and the Government of Iran would not experience an undue hardship on this account.

The President then asked how the General would prefer that he answer the letter. Since General Bakhtiar was returning to Tehran March 2, it was agreed that the reply would be transmitted through the Department and given to the Shah by Ambassador Wailes.

General Bakhtiar then underlined the financial difficulties facing Iran, particularly the problem of simultaneously financing economic development and maintaining adequate security forces. The General reiterated that it was important Iran be informed as soon as possible about the level of assistance for the coming year. The General remarked the Iranian Government believed that the Consortium should increase its off-take of oil to augment Iran's income. He drew as an analogy the Kuwait oil picture. In Kuwait the annual income from oil is $400 million which on a per capita basis gives each Kuwaiti $2,000; each Iranian, dividing the annual income from oil of $250 million, would receive only $12. The President asked which American companies were participating in Iranian oil development. He emphasized commercial matters were usually settled in the open market, adding he was sure the General was aware the United States Government ordinarily did not advise American private business on how to run its affairs. He said, however, he would "look into the matter"./3/

/3/Subsequently, on March 16, a memorandum from Stoessel to Dungan conveyed the Department of State position that Iran had repeatedly in the past raised the off-take issue, that the President's response was fully in accord with the previous U.S. position on the subject, and that a further response was not required. (Department of State, Central Files, 880.2553/3-1661)

The President stated he was acutely aware of the problem facing Iran, like other countries, where the tasks of maintaining internal security and armed forces against outside aggression, in addition to striving to achieve a democratic form of government and economic development, were monumental. The United States is aware of the aspirations of the peoples of Iran and elsewhere to achieve these goals and we wish to associate ourselves with the hopes of these peoples. The United States continues to be interested and concerned in Iran's problems, as we are also aware of the Iranian peoples' wish to be free from the threat of aggression.

As evidence of his concern, the President requested General Bakhtiar to reassure the Shah of our continued interest, adding he would give His Majesty's letter his considered attention. Further, the President added the General might tell His Imperial Majesty that he would be pleased to be in communication with him. Furthermore, as evidence of our interest, the President informed the General that he was sending Ambassador Harriman to Iran following his trip to Europe. Iran will be the only Asian country Ambassador Harriman will visit and the President remarked that he was convinced that Ambassador Harriman's visit, like the General's, would be helpful to both parties.

General Bakhtiar then stated that Iran, in addition to having the Soviets on its borders, has two other neighbors--Iraq and Afghanistan--which are receiving more modern weapons (especially aircraft) than Iran is receiving. The President remarked that he was not aware of any serious problem facing Iran from the direction of Iraq and Afghanistan. He asked about Iran's relations with its two neighbors. In reply, Dr. Khosrovani stated that with the exception of the problem of the Helmand River, Iran's relations with Afghanistan were good. Concerning Iraq, he characterized relations as normal with some tension existing over the Shatt-al-Arab River issue.

The President then reiterated that the United States was sympathetic with Iran's needs and that he would be communicating with His Majesty. He added that he wished to emphasize: (1) the problem of foreign aid was under study; (2) he hoped the Iranians would understand that his Administration is fully aware of and concerned with the problem as posed by His Imperial Majesty; (3) he was sending Ambassador Harriman to express his desire to maintain contact with the Shah and to express our sympathetic understanding of the difficulties facing Iran. The President then requested the General to convey his best wishes to His Majesty, recalling to the Shah that he had visited Iran and had called on His Imperial Majesty in 1951 and subsequently had met him in Florida. He also expressed happiness that both the Shah and himself had sons born at about the same time.

In answer to the President's question as to whether the General had seen Mr. Dulles and other officials in the United States, the General replied in the affirmative and commented that he was very satisfied with his visit in the United States.

18. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Battle) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, March 7, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM 25. Confidential. Drafted by Jones and Meyer on March 6.

Possible Message to Head of Iraq Government

In a memorandum to the Secretary dated March 1, you indicated that the President would like to have the Department's recommendation as to whether a personal letter might be sent to Prime Minister Qasim, the head of the Iraq Government./2/

/2/Reference is to NSAM No. 25 from Bundy to Secretary Rusk, dated March 1, which also noted that the President "would like to have a draft letter for his consideration." (Ibid.). A handwritten note on NSAM No. 25, initialed by Stoessel and dated March 2, reads: "I don't know any background on this except that President reportedly said he was writing to lots of people these days--& if it wld. help any for him to write to Qasim--why not?" (Ibid.)

In the Department's view, a personal message from the President to a foreign Chief of State or Head of Government is indeed a useful diplomatic tool. With regard to Prime Minister Qasim of Iraq, we think this instrument might well be employed, but preferably at some propitious occasion. U.S.-Iraq relations during the past year have returned to a measure of normalcy. Indications are that further improvement can be expected. However, the Iraqi revolutionary regime still harbors strong suspicions that we have "imperialistic" motivations. A Presidential message at this juncture, coming, so to speak, out of the blue, might well puzzle the Iraqis and rekindle suspicions that we have some ulterior motive.

You may assure the President that we are seeking an appropriate occasion for the dispatch of a Presidential message to the Iraqi Prime Minister. We are gratified by the President's personal interest in this matter.

Walter J. Stoessel/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Stoessel signed for Battle above Battle's typed signature.

19. Editorial Note

In response to reports that Israel intended to hold an anniversary parade on April 20, 1961, in Jerusalem that would feature heavy military equipment, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Cleveland on March 10 expressed U.S. concern to Ambassador Harman and suggested that the military theme be eliminated from the parade. (Memorandum of conversation, March 10; Department of State, Central Files, 884.424/3-1061) Israel, however, held a dress rehearsal for the parade in Jerusalem March 16-17. Upon Jordan's complaint, the Mixed Armistice Commission determined that the Israeli action had violated the 1948 Israeli-Jordanian Armistice Agreement. (U.N. document S/4776)

On April 1, Jordan asked the U.N. Security Council to meet on the matter, charging that the parade was an act of military provocation. The United States again expressed concern to Israeli officials noting that the parade would violate the Armistice Agreement. Israel cited previous similar violations by Jordan and refused to alter its plans. (Telegrams 1900 and 1903 to USUN, April 1 and 3, respectively; Department of State, Central Files, 884.424/4-161 and 884.424/4-361) The United States then sought a consensus statement endorsing the MAC decision and urging Israeli compliance, which would minimize debate and avoid the adoption of a resolution critical of Israel. (Telegram 1916 to USUN, April 4; ibid.)

This effort was unsuccessful. Ultimately, the United States voted for a Security Council resolution on April 11 that urged Israel to comply with the MAC decision and requested members of the MAC to cooperate to assure compliance with the Armistice Agreement. (U.N. document S/4785) Despite additional U.S. entreaties, Israel staged the military parade without incident on April 20. (Telegram 752 to Tel Aviv, April 11; Department of State, Central Files, 884A.424/4-1161, and memorandum of conversation between Secretary Rusk and Ambassador Harman, April 13; ibid., 884A.424/4-1361)

20. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, March 13, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.88/2-2361. Top Secret. Drafted by Bowling on March 8.

Dear Mr. Bundy: The Department has received your letter to the Under Secretary, Number I-18109/61, dated February 23, 1961,/2/ in which you raised certain questions of interest to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in connection with possible internal disturbances in Iran.

/2/Not printed. (Ibid., 611.88/2-2361, and Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Iran 000.1--1961)

The views of the Department of State on these questions are given below. They must be regarded as tentative and as subject to possible modification in the course of a broad review of our policies. We feel that United States responses to the situations envisaged by the Joint Chiefs must be within the framework of the Joint Congressional Resolution on the Middle East./3/

/3/Reference is to the Middle East Resolution, P.L. 85-7, approved March 9, 1957; 71 Stat. 5. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1957, pp. 829-831.

(a) What would be the United States reaction to a request by the Shah for help against a sizeable insurrection in the Iranian Army?

The United States should not contemplate military action unless there should be clear evidence that the insurrection represented a form of aggression by the forces of international communism; this would appear highly unlikely in terms of the present political situation in Iran.

(b) In case the Government of Iran lost control of rioting mobs, should United States forces be dispatched to protect American lives?

Any United States decision should be within the context of approved Emergency and Evacuation Plans which are available to the Department of Defense; it is difficult to envisage any large-scale threat to American lives in terms of the present political situation in Iran.

(c) What course of action should be taken by the United States if anarchy should ensue upon the sudden removal of the Shah from the scene?

Anarchy, as representing the absence of any political authority, is difficult to envisage; should it occur, the response of the United States should be through the United Nations.

(d) What faction or personality does the United States prefer to succeed the Shah in case of his sudden death, abdication or overthrow?

The United States would prefer to see the stabilizing institution of the Monarchy preserved through the operation of a Regency Council on behalf of the minor heir-apparent; ideally, such a Regency Council should include one of the Shah's older half-brothers, a representative of the moderate Mosadeqist elements, a professional military leader, and a representative of the more progressive traditionalist elements of society.

The Department of State will be in touch with the Department of Defense in the current re-examination of our policy toward Iran, which is now in its initial stages.

Sincerely yours,

G. Lewis Jones/4/

/4/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

21. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State

Tehran, March 14, 1961, 2 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 888.00/3-1461. Secret.

1164. Eyes only for President and Secretary. From Harriman./2/ Had some six hours conversation with Shah, the first third alone at his request and latter part at luncheon and after with Ambassadors Wailes and Zahedi. How much permanent value will result is hard to estimate, but Wailes agrees, and statement last night of Prime Minister indicates, Shah was highly pleased by discussion and message from you indicating your interest in supporting Iran as essential corridor to block Soviets' advance into Middle East. Of course, I made no commitments as to amount of military and economic aid. I was able, however, to allay his fears that your statements about a new policy towards neutrals did not mean an encouragement to Iran to return to neutralism but referred only to countries which were unwilling to make issue and join military alliance. I fully agreed with his statement that he believes Iran would be lost if it attempted to adopt policy of neutralism. The Communists would infiltrate and eventually take over; whereas Iran's role as strong partner of the West gives only hope for continued independence and prosperity for Iranian people. He explained his belief that Iran was only country in this part of world (with the possible exception of Iraq) that had economic potential to develop European standard of living, since it is underpopulated and has great potential with natural resources including enormous expandable irrigated lands. Iran could be example of what West could do against Communist claims. All of these developments, of course, require large investments. The Shah asks that we give him a helping hand in three areas: (1) his well-known request for military aid; (2) economic and technical aid including Shiraz University (Shah is committed to continue expansion education which has made great progress since my last visit); (3) influence on oil companies for greater percentage of market (Kuwait's sale 50 percent greater than Iran's burns him up).

/2/On February 24, the Department of State instructed the Embassy in Tehran to inform the Shah that Harriman would be able to visit Tehran between March 12 and 14 following stops in several European countries, if the Shah wished to issue an invitation. The Department explained: "Highest levels in Washington have been concerned by the flagging morale of Shah in recent months and we believe it would be useful for Harriman to proceed to Tehran with personal greetings of President and to have general exchange of views with Shah without, of course, making any definite program commitments. Harriman has had close association with Shah in past." (Ibid., 123-Harriman, W. Averell)

He told me British Foreign Secretary Home had last week promised to help induce oil companies to recognize political importance of Iran. He insists that we should do the same. He maintains that if oil sales are increased, it would, thereby, reduce his needs to beg aid from us. He is unhappy that most all our allies belong to pacts of which we are member and are thus directly guaranteed. He is not fully satisfied with Eisenhower Doctrine guarantee in bilateral agreement. He feels that if we were serious about CENTO, we would insist upon strategic defense plan which he claims decision has been constantly postponed by U.S. He states emphatically Iran would be better off if U.S. would make up its mind what its long-term aid policy would be and he could adjust his economic and military program to it. Wailes and I told him that his position in this regard made sense to us. I laid at rest his fears that you might be making some special deal with Khrushchev which would leave him out on a limb and I gave him definite assurances that you would never do this without prior consultation. I explained your general attitude towards negotiations with Khrushchev.

Almost every part of the world came up for discussion and he seemed to be pleased to be able to discuss his views with us. He explained why it had been necessary for him to have a cabinet of technicians but expressed a desire to work towards political ministers with more responsibility towards Majlis. In recent new shuffle of Cabinet, he stated that he had given orders to his new Ministers to fight corruption and specifically to the Finance Minister to be tough in collecting more income taxes and to live up to stabilization agreement

He explained that the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow, to take place in late April or early May, was purely gesture of good will. The Foreign Minister would not accompany him in order to avoid discussion of political commitments. The Trade Minister would probably accompany him. He asked me to assure you that you could count on his complete loyalty to the West and the Iranian hope to play an increasingly important role in strengthening the West against Kremlin and Peking aggression.

I am impressed with progress that has been made in ten years since I have been here both in economic progress and in administration in which, however, there remains much to be desired. Will discuss further details on return./3/

/3/The Embassy in Tehran reported to the Department of State on March 15 that Harriman's visit had been very successful. Members of the Iranian Government were very pleased and media coverage was favorable. National front and dissident elements had delivered several unsigned letters highly critical of the regime, which the Embassy had returned because, "in our opinion, any alleged contact which could be used by these people would materially weaken desired effect of visit." (Ibid.)


22. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones) to the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)

Washington, March 16, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, State-JCS Meetings: Lot 70 D 328, March 17, 1961-11:30 a.m. Secret. Drafted by Gannett (NEA/NR) on March 15 and concurred in by McGhee (S/P) and Courtney (S/AE).

CENTO Item on Agenda for Department-JCS Meeting on March 17, 1961

1. The JCS have requested that U.S. policy toward CENTO be discussed at the Department-JCS meeting on March 17./2/ It appears that the JCS probably wish to ascertain to what extent the Department's draft policy paper on CENTO, recently sent to Defense, is a definitive reflection of the Department's current thinking on this subject. A copy of this paper is set forth at Tab A./3/

/2/No record of this meeting has been found.

/3/Dated February 24. See Supplement, the regional compilation.

2. Doubtless you will recall that Mr. McGhee sent you a copy of the draft paper/4/ under cover of his memorandum of March 2 (Tab B)/5/ and that subsequently you authorized him to send it to Defense, indicating that it set forth the Department's thinking. In sending our paper to Defense, Mr. McGhee suggested that officers of the two Departments meet shortly to work out an agreed U.S. position in preparation for meetings in late April of the CENTO Military Committee and Ministerial Council. NEA and S/P would still hope for such an opportunity following your preliminary discussion with the JCS on March 17.

/4/Dated March 9. (Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Chron File-E.M. Wilson)

/5/Not printed. (Ibid., Near & Middle East, 1959-61)

3. The general concept behind our draft paper is that the major threat to the treaty area at the present time can be expected to come not from external aggression on a massive scale but from failure to solve serious social and economic problems to which the regional member states should be devoting their major attention. At the same time, our paper suggests that we should avoid assuming any attitude toward the military aspects of CENTO which would have the effect of discouraging the member states' efforts to maintain their military preparedness. The paper recommends that the United States not adhere formally to CENTO nor participate in the establishment of command arrangements but should continue general support of the Organization, particularly in respect to political and economic cooperation.

4. By way of background it should be noted that the JCS have been concerned for some time that our support for CENTO, particularly in the military field, has been so limited that the regional members are becoming disillusioned and that CENTO is in danger of collapsing. They believe that, should CENTO disintegrate, Iran would probably retreat from its current orientation toward the West and eventually fall under Soviet domination.

5. With these views in mind, the Joint Chiefs recommended in October that the United States undertake steps to invigorate CENTO as a defensive military organization. They made several specific proposals to this end which the Department of Defense endorsed in general terms when forwarding them to us for our comments. The principal recommendations of the Joint Chiefs were:

a. The United States should join CENTO;

b. The United States should take part in the establishment of a command organization; and

c. The United States should enable CENTO military requirements planning to reflect improved future capabilities for CENTO forces, through inclusion of Hawk missiles in our bilateral military assistance programs with Iran and Pakistan (Turkey's anti-aircraft defenses are further advanced in view of its NATO relationship) and through the introduction into such CENTO planning of consideration of U.S. tactical nuclear capabilities which we have unilaterally earmarked for deployment to the CENTO area by U.S. forces in event of Communist aggression.

6. The draft paper at Tab A represents in essence the Department's substantive reply to the JCS views. It does not, however, respond as directly to points set forth in c. above as it does to a. and b. The points in c. are among those which NEA believes may require further discussion within the Department and subsequently with Defense, particularly the matter of tactical nuclear capabilities. This latter point involves the regional members' insistence that they must know whether tactical nuclear support would be available to support defense of the CENTO area against Communist aggression. On this matter we are faced by the dilemma of how to formulate an answer which allays the regional members' genuine concern but which at the same time squares with our policy of not providing nuclear capabilities to the indigenous forces of our non-NATO allies in the Middle East.

7. There are indications that, if the United States does not proceed along the lines recommended by the JCS, the Joint Chiefs may wish to disassociate themselves in the future from the degree of personal involvement in CENTO military affairs to which they have been committed in the past. We believe this whole matter should be approached gradually in a manner not to discourage the defense efforts of the member states. Since the Military Committee meeting now scheduled for April 24-25 was postponed to that date in order to fit in with the heavy schedule of the JCS members, it is desirable that one of the Joint Chiefs keep this engagement.


1. That you confirm to the Joint Chiefs that our draft paper (Tab A) reflects accurately the Department's thinking on CENTO policy.

2. That you indicate the Department continues to look forward to early discussions with Defense on certain aspects, particularly the tactical nuclear arms problem.

3. If the issue arises, that you indicate that the Department believes it is important that a JCS member represent the United States at the April meeting of the Military Committee.

23. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic

Washington, March 18, 1961, 2:27 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/3-1861. Secret. Drafted by Brewer (NEA/NE) on March 17; cleared by Ferguson (AFW) in draft, Buffum (IO/UNP) in draft, Valdes (EUR/WE) in draft, Chase (AF/N) in draft, Perkins (S/S), and Brown (O) in substance; and approved by Jones (NEA) who initialed for Rusk. Repeated to Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, and USUN.

1734. Your final private meeting with Nasser, which we assume will take place shortly, would afford opportunity useful review trends in US-UAR relations since your arrival year ago./2/ We would hope such presentation might give Nasser increasing understanding USG desire continue to be cooperative provided this can be done on mutually acceptable basis. Accordingly, you may wish make following points in addition customary farewell courtesies:

/2/Ambassador G. Frederick Reinhardt presented his credentials to the Government of the United Arab Republic on March 22, 1960. He left Cairo on May 6, 1961, following the announcement of his appointment as Ambassador to Italy on April 6.

1. In past year, despite periodic specific difficulties, our disposition assist UAR meet its economic and development plans has been maintained. In this connection, it may be worth noting that this assistance has been equivalent more than $140 million in loans and surplus agricultural sales since March 1960.

2. Past year has likewise witnessed extension significant US commodity aid and technical cooperation Syrian Region. We hope continuing difficulties in arranging entry USOM technicians may be overcome in order prevent further delays in implementing agreed-upon programs.

3. Despite foregoing record, we have noted recent increase anti-American output UAR media and regrettable failure UAR authorities assure adequate protection Embassy during February 15 demonstrations. Damage these caused has even now not been made good by UAR. Even Nasser himself, in recent Syrian speeches, chose to single out West by reviewing past criticism while avoiding criticism Communists even though Communist papers and exiled politicians currently attacking Syrian adherence UAR with increasing frequency.

4. We believe Nasser might wish consider unfortunate image UAR which thus created in American and other public opinion. This serves not only undermine progress made in restoring US-UAR relations, including favorable impact Nasser's own visit New York last fall, but makes it more difficult for us maintain similar momentum in future.

5. Re Congo, February 21 Security Council resolution co-sponsored by UAR for which USG voted/3/ revealed broad support existing for strengthened UN operation. Intervening weeks have witnessed welcome and essential accretions strength to UN force and stage is now set for firm action implementing resolution. For our part, we have provided air and surface transportation UN reinforcements and are continuing our efforts with Congolese and Belgians to bring about full implementation recent resolution. In this situation, we feel all UN members have special responsibility refrain from premature criticism or counter-productive public discussion which would only serve undermine current UN endeavors to prevent civil war and to restore tranquility. Only when these over-riding objectives achieved will atmosphere be created in which Congolese themselves can work out solutions their complex internal problems without outside interference. (FYI. Specific guidance re Tananarive resolutions (Embtel 1539)/4/ being sent separately. End FYI.)

/3/U.N. doc. S/4722. For documentation on the Congo crisis, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume XX.

/4/Dated March 14. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/3-1461)

6. Complex Algerian problem also appears gradually moving toward settlement. We gratified this encouraging trend and have welcomed recent indications UAR also appears hopeful mutually satisfactory settlement may be reached.

7. Should Nasser inquire re UNRWA item at resumed UNGA, you should take line USG continues be concerned by tragic plight refugees but believes repetitive UN discussions this issue unlikely advance solution. While we do not believe an UNRWA resolution required this session, we would not oppose resolution that did not go beyond 1959 UNGA text/5/ if Arabs believe they need a resolution. However, we are unable support new elements such as Arab draft recently introduced, because we believe any new elements more appropriately discussed next fall when pursuant to 1950 resolution whole subject of future of Arab refugees comes up for review. We trust Arab delegations will recognize force this position in discussions now proceeding New York. This general connection, you may wish point out Cairo radio and press allegations re new "Johnson Plan" solve Palestine question are without foundation (Deptel 1723)./6/

/5/Reference is to Resolution 1456 (XIV), December 9, 1959. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1959, pp. 1044-1045.

/6/Dated March 15. (Department of State, Central Files, 884.411/3-1461)

In event you believe it helpful, you may say you look forward opportunity report to President on your return and would be glad transmit any personal observations Nasser may have on foregoing or other subjects mutual interest.

You also authorized assure Nasser your somewhat early transfer wholly unrelated US-UAR relations but rather prompted by over-riding considerations affecting post to which you going. You may add you understand your successor will be appointed promptly and you feel sure he will continue your own efforts maintain and develop cordial personal and official relations with Nasser and his government./7/

/7/On May 6, Reinhardt reported on his farewell calls on senior UAR officials in telegram 1811. Nasser had stressed UAR economic development and appeared surprised over U.S. complaints about Egyptian press coverage. Reinhardt offered these comments: "I regret to report that despite growing U.S. economic assistance and cultural exchange which has characterized my fourteen months in Cairo, lack of mutual confidence between U.S. and UAR has, if anything, become more apparent. . . . This fact derives to a large extent from Nasser's determination to maintain and enhance if possible his status as a neutralist leader and to attack the U.S. as necessary to this end. Current Nasser-Tito-Sukarno initiatives for a new conference of non-aligned states (including Latin America) indicate that this policy can be expected to prevail for foreseeable future with all that this implies for U.S.-UAR relations." (Ibid., 611.86B/5-661)


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