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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 45-65

45. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic/1/

Washington, May 10, 1961, 2:29 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/5-1061. Top Secret; Niact. Drafted by Meyer, cleared by Manfull (S/S) and by Dungan at the White House, and approved and signed by Acting Secretary Bowles. Also sent to Beirut, Amman, Baghdad, and Jidda and repeated to Tel Aviv and Taiz. Attached to the source text is an earlier draft that shows handwritten changes made "in accordance WH wishes."

1953. In response to request for meeting at earliest feasible date, President has agreed see Israel Prime Minister Ben-Gurion in New York on May 30. President will be there for speech prior to departure following day for Paris. Ben-Gurion will arrive on May 28. He not scheduled to visit Washington.

Israelis have agreed no publicity prior to May 20. In announcing visit on May 20 Israelis will state that purpose of visit to meet with Jewish leaders in New York. At later date it may be disclosed that at his request Ben-Gurion will have talk with President while both are in New York.

President and Department fully aware repercussions which Ben-Gurion visit apt produce in Arab world, particularly at time when recent UNGA developments have already tended to cause Arabs to view new US administration as partial to Israel. However, President did not believe he should refuse request even as he would not wish refuse request should an Arab leader desire visit US unofficially. Moreover, President hopes capitalize on opportunity to emphasize USG views re need to move forward with respect to Arab refugees and also re Israel's nuclear reactor.

Before question of Ben-Gurion visit arose, Department had been considering letters from President to individual Arab leaders setting forth in broad terms desire of new US administration to deal with Near East problems in as fair and friendly manner as possible. It was hoped that letters would reassure Arab leaders of USG impartiality in Arab-Israel issue and USG's desire to maintain friendly and mutually beneficial relations with all Near Eastern states.

Also Department has independently reached conclusion that serious effort must be made between now and next UNGA with respect to Arab refugees. Present plans call for reconnaissance mission to Near Eastern capitals by distinguished non-American official as Special Representative of PCC. He would hear views of leaders and then recommend to PCC measures to resolve refugee impasse using UN resolutions as basis. While realizing intractability this problem, Department convinced that determined effort must be undertaken.

Department keenly interested in any measures which will minimize adverse reactions to Ben-Gurion visit in Arab world. It is hoped Presidential letters, cast in warm friendly tones, will be helpful. Department assumes such letters should be delivered well before news of Ben-Gurion visit becomes public. Department also assumes it preferable get PCC activity re refugees under way before Ben-Gurion talks with President, otherwise Arabs apt to allege PCC move "hatched" by Ben-Gurion and President in their talks.

Department wishes your comment on means for minimizing Arab reactions to Ben-Gurion visit and specifically whether it would be worthwhile to give key Arab leader in your country advance indication that Ben-Gurion visit will take place. This could be done by reference in President's letter along lines last two sentences of paragraph 2 above. It might alternatively be done orally on or about May 18.

Since President's letter will include support for PCC steps vis-à-vis refugee problem, it possible that if Ben-Gurion included among recipients of President's letter and if it is known to Arabs that he also a recipient, his visit might be interpreted by Arabs as prompted by unhappiness over PCC move. This would be one possibility for cushioning Arab reactions. Comment on this alternative also requested.

Reply Niact.


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

Tehran, May 10, 1961, 6 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.88/5-1061. Secret; Priority.

1379. Reference: Department telegram 1229./2/ Following are Embassy comments on numbered questions reference telegram:

/2/Telegram 1229, May 8, requested the Embassy's views on 12 questions that focused on probable major areas of decision for the Task Force. (Ibid., 611.88/5-861) The questions are in footnotes 3 and 5-14 below.

1./3/ USG should publicly neither support Amini personally nor identify itself with him to any greater extent than has been or should be properly done with any other Prime Minister who is friendly to US and who seems to be doing his best to solve problems confronting him. Although Shah's position had deteriorated during past twelve months and although he probably appointed Amini reluctantly and out of some measure of fear at turn of events, he remains focal point of power in Iran and head of regime in which Amini is and probably will remain a subordinate; therefore, we should neither identify US Govt with a Prime Minister whose staying power is unknown nor get into position supporting him against the Shah. We believe, however, we should be sympathetic to Amini for his anticipated efforts solve many problems confronting him. Most pressing of these are economic in nature and what he will expect from us is financial assistance, which he has already mentioned, which he almost certainly will need and which we should give him in such a way that he can make immediately effective use of it. (Embassy telegram 1371)/4/

/3/Question 1 reads: "To what extent should USG support Amini personally and identify itself with him? What kind of direct and concrete support to him feasible and desirable."

/4/Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/5-1061)

2./5/ Amini appointment is significant as indication of Shah's perturbation over deterioration political and economic situation as Amini has demanded and probably will initially at least receive greater powers than recent predecessors. It remains to be seen how much authority Amini can retain if Shah, as expected, continues unable refrain from undue interference in day-to-day affairs of govt. We do not consider Amini appointment as last chance before "Mosadeqists," which term we interpret as extreme nationalism, neutralism and chaos. Rather, we consider most likely intervening step would be Bakhtiar as Prime Minister with full powers either granted by Shah out of desperation or seized by Bakhtiar under more parlous circumstances than have as yet obtained.

/5/Question 2 reads: "Does Embassy view Amini appointment as marking significant departure. Is he conceivably last chance before Mosadeqists?"

3./6/ We believe US should give Shah "desirable but unwelcomed" advice to extent and on those occasions when we consider chances good advice would be taken. This would not be case with suggested advice re Pahlavi Foundation. To elaborate somewhat we believe:

/6/Question 3 reads: "To what extent should US give Shah desirable but unwelcome advice, for example to separate from Court and publicize details Pahlavi Foundation transactions?

(a) Advice should never be given Shah by US to appoint certain specified Iranians.

(b) Advice should seldom be given to fire certain specified individual.

(c) Advice involving personal affairs or Shah's family is most delicate ground of all.

It is necessary bear in mind at all times that advice by foreigners difficult to receive. It is our opinion this is something which must be played by ear by Ambassador on spot.

4./7/ We definitely do not believe US should urge in any manner devolution local govt powers to local elected assemblies. Elections in this country do not now and cannot be expected in foreseeable future to produce responsible representatives of people. Local govts will continue to be appointed regardless of system. Local govt powers are meaningless without ability to collect locally most of revenues required for local purposes. In our view local govts will continue mainly to rely on central govt for required funds.

/7/Question 4 reads: "Should US strongly urge devolution local government powers to local elected assemblies?"

5./8/ Internal political objective of US in Iran presumably continues to be political, social and economic development which will promote strong stable govt with sufficient popular support and with continuing resistance to Communist influence and subversion. Whether this is reasonable, as opposed to hopeful, objective for five years, we do not know. Problems facing regime on one hand and the unpleasant alternatives to this regime from US point of view on other make it more reasonable in our view to look only two or three years ahead at most. We know of no action by US Govt and we anticipate no action by any Iranian Govt which would enable us confidently to predict five years ahead.

/8/Question 5 reads: "What is reasonable internal political objective of US in Iran over next five years?"

6./9/ It has been and should continue to be practice this Embassy attempt influence GOI leaders and Ministers take steps toward accomplishment specific reforms and actions which US is convinced are both feasible of accomplishment and in Iranian and US interests. Instances where this effort has been successful, and there are a number, have proven that in general this process is more effective to extent leaders accept our ideas as their own and less successful as "pressures" are applied by us on them.

/9/Question 6 reads: "To what degree are US pressures on GOI leaders and ministers effective in encouraging specific reforms and changes?"

8 [7-8]./10/ Although US prestige already committed to CENTO and although CENTO is not flourishing, we do not recommend at this time that US join CENTO. CENTO should somehow be invigorated but if the United States joins we believe US will acquire tremendous responsibility not simply for its survival but for its marked success and we do not see potential in this organization for "marked success." In order however reduce feeling among its local members, particularly Iran, that it represents no great value to them, we recommend that in addition to steps taken at recent Ministerial Meeting serious consideration be given to other steps such as sponsoring military representatives meeting of NATO-SEATO-CENTO alliances and, much more importantly, informing CENTO regional countries that US has plans providing for allocation of nuclear weapons outside of CENTO area for use in support of CENTO forces in event of hostilities with USSR. Iranian pressures for military aid would be increased rather than reduced by US accession to CENTO. We believe Shah attaches value to US accession primarily as a means of acquiring more military aid.

/10/Question 7 reads: "Should US join CENTO? Should US increase contribution CENTO economic activities even if projects do not have importance in individual country development?" Question 8 reads: "Would US accession to CENTO or formal US treaty guarantee Iranian borders reduce pressure for military aid? What would help in this direction?"

Aside from problems which would be created in other parts of this area by formal US treaty guarantee Iranian borders, there is also problem of making clear to Iran's neighbors that we mean by such guarantee only Iran-Soviet borders and not those with Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan. We are not only unsure that US guarantee of Iran's borders would reduce pressures for military aid but we have doubts that offer plus ensuing debates here, in Washington, and elsewhere during ratification processes would be welcomed by Iranian people. They might well consider that economic and social problems far outweigh whatever security problems might be met by such guarantee. What will help in this connection is conviction on part of Shah that US remains as serious as it has ever been about defending this country against Soviet encroachments. His conviction in this regard has been shaken by what he has heard in recent months from other than US official sources about prospective US policies. It will probably be restored only with time, patience, and continued sincere demonstrations of good will on our part toward him and his regime.

Because they do not have sufficient political or military significance Emb does not recommend increased US contribution those CENTO econ activities lacking importance in individual country development. Believe telecommunications and VOR projects are sufficiently important for Iran's development to warrant adequate funding. Only other project important to Iran is Turkey-Iran rail link which we believe is not of sufficiently high priority on any grounds to justify large outlay at time when other Iranian demands on aid funds are apt to grow very large.

9./11/ In general terms military posture which we should advocate for Iran should be one which would enable regime maintain internal security, face with confidence any military threat from either Iraq or Afghanistan, and instill in minds of Soviet military authorities doubt as to their ability so quickly to capture centers of power and communications (primarily Tehran, of course) as to face us with fait accompli before it has time to act. It is our impression that such posture could be adopted and maintained with some reduction in present JCS force objective (perhaps 150,000 men instead of the current 208,000) provided:

/11/Question 9 reads: "What military posture should we advocate for Iran?"

a)Decrease in number is accomplished in gradual and orderly manner so as not throw suddenly on body politic large number idle and disgruntled senior officers.

b)Remaining units are reorganized and trained so as increase proportion elite forces like First Infantry Brigade 111th Tank Battalion, and Special Forces.

Finally, we believe that Shah could be persuaded wholeheartedly to accept such program provided these remaining units, especially Air Force, were sufficiently streamlined and modernized so as enable them to make military posture described above patently real. We realize that such program might cost us more money rather than less but without it, it would be difficult persuade Shah decrease in size armed forces would not render Iran defenseless in face of enemies actual or potential.

10./12/ Believe $40 million estimate for hard-core Plan Org aid requirement still valid. Reasoning given on pp. 90-91 of CT April 1961 revision of country program book.

/12/Question 10 reads: "How much aid required by Plan Organization complete Second Plan assuming $10 million transferred from 1340 general revenues?"

11./13/ In view of large amounts tied loans yet to be utilized believe only way to insure timely receipt new aid is through cash grants. Large advances on existing and future loans might suffice if there were certainty that new loans can legally be made to Iran without a Majlis.

/13/Question 11 reads: "How insure timely receipt new aid to overcome chronic cash flow problem?"

Must call attention to likelihood Amini will ask for cash grant for general budgetary support in addition to aid for Plan Org and armed forces. If he satisfies teachers he faced with prospect having give pay raises to civil service and armed forces since cost-of-living has increased almost 30 per cent in less than three years. Even with good management and luck he cannot quickly increase tax yields and cut waste. Also cannot ignore possibility that capital flight will put further heavy pressure on foreign exchange reserves.

12./14/ Timing US approach to Third Plan problems depends in part on progress GOI developing plan frame. Work virtually ceased during Aramesh period, now again under way and plan frame expected to be ready one or two months. When ready, Plan Org officials plan seek invitation to Washington to discuss over-all plan objectives. Questions financial aid could be considered then.

/14/Question 12 reads: "How and when should US act lay groundwork for aid, technical advice, institutional changes, training, etc., of Third Plan?"

Re technical advice and training Plan Org has already indicated to USOM desire for US assistance in feasibility studies individual projects or large segments program; work to this end could begin immediately within present personnel capabilities USOM.

Re institutional changes, believe US when giving any substantial new aid should seek assurance from Amini govt on tax reforms, multi-year financial planning. He appears predisposed seriously to attempt such reforms. We particularly favor seeking major effort on taxation based on land values, which appears best way mobilize resources needed for financing development and other expenditures.


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

Washington, May 11, 1961, 10:06 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/5-1161. Confidential; Priority; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Meyer and Palmer; cleared by Talbot, Cleveland, and Dungan at the White House; and approved by Mau (S/S), who initialed for Bowles.

1971. Deliver following message Nasser from President/2/ advising date and time delivery:/3/

/2/The letter is one of six sent from President Kennedy to Arab leaders on May 11. Letters sent to President Chehab of Lebanon, King Hussein of Jordan, Prime Minister Qassim of Iraq, King Saud of Saudi Arabia, and Imam Ahmed of Yemen contained the same text, except for the fourth and penultimate paragraphs, which were specially adapted for each country. For additional information relating to the letters' origin and authorship, see Document 42. Copies of the individualized texts for the leaders of Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are attached to a May 5 memorandum from Talbot. See Supplement, the compilation on the Arab-Israeli dispute.

/3/The Embassy in Cairo reported in telegram 1840 that the letter was delivered to the President at 8 p.m. on May 12, Cairo time. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/5-1261)

"May 11, 1961. Dear Mr. President: In recent months the world's attention has been centered on several explosive situations, the outcome of which could spell the difference between freedom and servitude, between peace and war, for many millions of people, ultimately perhaps for all mankind. I know that you have been deeply concerned about these problems, as I have been. However, I am confident that you share with me the conviction that through the dedicated efforts of men of good will everywhere, the storm clouds of the present can be dispersed.

Meanwhile, leaders responsive to the needs and aspirations of their peoples must, in my firm opinion, be alert to every possibility for advancing basic principles of political and economic justice. Thus, while since my inauguration on January 20 I have perforce been largely occupied with the several international crises of immediate concern, I have given considerable thought to other international issues that deserve the careful attention of us all.

My thoughts have often turned to the Middle East, an area which has contributed so much to the religious and cultural heritage of the world today, and whose potential for further rich contributions to civilization is great. As an American I am proud that the concepts of our founding patriots, of Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, have played so great a part in the emergence of vigorous, independent Arab states, respected as sovereign equals in the international community.

I am proud of the tangible encouragement which has been accorded by our government and people to the aspirations of you and your countrymen in the past, particularly during the critical days of 1956. The United States Government, itself the product of a union of several independent states, was pleased to recognize the formation of the United Arab Republic on February 22, 1958, the birthday anniversary of our own first President, Washington.

In recent weeks I have noted some speculation as to the direction of the policies of the new United States administration with respect to the Middle East. Let me assure you that the concepts inherited from the men mentioned above are part of the very fiber of this nation, and that as its President I intend to uphold them. You will find us at all times and all places active in the struggle for equality of opportunity; for government of the people, by the people and for the people; for freedom from want and fear; and for the application of justice in the settlement of international disputes.

Translating these great precepts into United States policy in the Middle East for the next few years, I want you to know that:

1. The United States will to the best of its ability lend every appropriate assistance to all Middle Eastern states that are determined to control their own destiny, to enhance the prosperity of their people, and to allow their neighbors to pursue the same fundamental aims.

2. The United States remains ever ready to contribute both within and outside the United Nations to the search for solutions to disputes which dissipate the precious energies of the Middle Eastern states and retard the economic progress which all free peoples rightly desire.

3. With a view toward improving the welfare of the people of the Middle East, the United States is prepared to continue to support national development programs which are effectively designed, to make available American commodities under the Food for Peace program, and to encourage educational exchanges designed to facilitate political and economic progress.

While tensions unfortunately have sharpened in certain other areas of the world, the Middle East during the past three years has been relatively tranquil. This has been due largely to statesmanship on the part of the area's leaders who have given priority to constructive programs of economic development. Secretary Rusk and I have been struck by the unanimity of views expressed to us by representatives of the various Middle Eastern states emphasizing that the present relative tranquility be preserved.

Underlying tensions do, however, remain, not the least of which is the unresolved Arab-Israel controversy. I know deep emotions are involved. No easy solution presents itself. The American government and people believe that an honorable and humane settlement can be found and are willing to share in the labors and burdens which so difficult an achievement must entail, if the parties concerned genuinely desire such participation. We are willing to help resolve the tragic Palestine refugee problem on the basis of the principle of repatriation or compensation for properties, to assist in finding an equitable answer to the question of Jordan River water resources development and to be helpful in making progress on other aspects of this complex problem.

I am pleased that the United Nations General Assembly recently underscored the necessity to implement more rapidly its previous recommendations on the refugee problem. In this connection, I wish to state unequivocally that this Government's position is anchored and will continue to be anchored in the firm bedrock of support for General Assembly recommendations concerning the refugees, and of active, impartial concern that those recommendations be implemented in a way most beneficial to the refugees.

The United States, as a member of the Palestine Conciliation Commission and a nation keenly interested in the long-range advancement of the peoples of the Middle East, takes seriously the task entrusted to the Commission by the United Nations. We are determined to use our influence to assure that the Commission intensify its efforts to promote progress toward a just and peaceful solution. What precise steps the Commission may be able to take are, of course, not yet clear, but I can assure you that there will be no lack of United States interest in seeing that effective action is taken. It is my sincere hope that all the parties directly concerned will cooperate fully with whatever program is undertaken by the Commission so that the best interests and welfare of all the Arab refugees of Palestine may be protected and advanced.

With reference to relations between the United Arab Republic and the United States, I recognize that our views on important problems do not always coincide. At the same time I am pleased that mutually beneficial relations continue to exist in many spheres and that United States assistance in significant quantities has played a role in your own thorough and detailed development program. As you know, I have recently made proposals to the Congress for aiding in the preservation of Nubian monuments./4/ We continue to welcome the hundreds of UAR students who have entered institutions in our country to further their educations. During his recent consultations in Washington, Ambassador Reinhardt told me of the significant progress which the United Arab Republic has already made in establishing an industrial base which will permit increasing prosperity and higher living standards for all your citizens. I am particularly pleased that we have been able in times past to arrange under favorable conditions the sale of substantial quantities of wheat and other commodities to the United Arab Republic since we recognize the importance of an adequately nourished population. It is my earnest hope that such mutually beneficial cooperation can continue.

/4/Reference is to President Kennedy's April 7 letter to the President of the U.S. Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives recommending that the United States participate in the international campaign initiated by UNESCO to preserve the ancient temples and other monuments in the Nile Valley, the most important of which was Abu Simbel, that were threatened with inundation as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pp. 248-250. Documentation on this subject is in Department of State, Central Files, 886B.421/4-2461, and Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, United Arab Republic, Preservation of Egyptian Temples.

I earnestly hope that these views of mine on the Middle East will prove useful to you. Given the long history of friendly relationships between the Arab people and the American people, and the interdependence of all men who wish to remain free, I want to be certain that you and other Arab leaders have no misunderstanding of our attitude towards the Arab people. It continues to be one of sincere friendship. With mutual respect for the other's points of view, mutual and active concern for the betterment of mankind, and mutual striving to eliminate the causes of international tensions, the future will bring even friendlier and more productive relationships between our countries and their freedom-loving people. Sincerely, John F. Kennedy."

White House has no plans publish this text but has no objection should GUAR desire do so./5/

/5/Following Near East press reports indicating that President Kennedy had sent letters to Arab leaders, on May 23 Meyer checked with Talbot and Feldman at the White House. He then informed Israeli Ambassador Harman that letters had been sent and described their general nature. A note on the brief memorandum of conversation reads: "It was felt important that Prime Minister Ben-Gurion who was passing through New York enroute to Canada that evening be accurately aware of the general nature of the letters so that he would not infer they were of some sort of anti-Israel character." (Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/5-2361)


48. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Bowles to President Kennedy

Washington, May 16, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.11/5-1661. Secret. Drafted by Brewer between May 10 and 15 and cleared by Conger (U/PR), U. Alexis Johnson, Strong, Talbot, and Stevenson (CMA).

Considerations Affecting a Possible Official Visit Here by President Nasser

President Nasser is a key Arab leader. The Department has periodically considered the possibility of an official visit by him to this country. Because of the Palestine problem and Egyptian dependence on the Soviets for military and economic assistance as well as sales of cotton, Nasser's political orientation has favored Moscow, which he has visited on several occasions. Privately, however, he retains great interest in, and respect for, the United States. An official visit here by Nasser might thus afford significant advantages, including (a) catering to Nasser's "dignity" (Sulzberger's column (enclosed)/2/ in the April 3 New York Times also makes this point); (b) affording a relatively inexpensive opportunity for the U.S. to do something to counter the influence the Soviets have acquired through their assistance and cotton purchases; and (c) both before, and hopefully after, such a visit, inducing a less antagonistic attitude towards us on Nasser's part (Nehru's visit here several years ago has had something of this effect). Nasser's reception in New York during the United Nations General Assembly in 1960 came as a pleasant surprise to him and resulted in a brief improvement in the atmosphere. A longer visit would build on this favorable start, but it should be emphasized that no major or fundamental reorientation of Nasser's thinking is to be expected. Maintenance of reasonably stable relations with the U.A.R., and establishment of a cordial personal relationship between yourself and Nasser will establish a climate in which Soviet Bloc errors in its dealings with the U.A.R. may well become more expensive politically to the Bloc (but probably not to the extent that this has been true in India).

/2/Not printed.

In the past, anti-Nasser sentiment in this country, fear of alienating our allies, notably King Hussein and the Shah, and Nasser's own behavior have militated against an official visit. However, new elements in the situation suggest a fresh look might be taken at this question. These include: (a) the fact that there is a new administration in Washington without a record of prior actions on Near Eastern matters which might complicate a visit later on; (b) the Near East has been relatively tranquil in recent months, creating a more favorable atmosphere for a visit; (c) tension between Nasser and Hussein appears recently to have eased, and Nasser seems to be more interested than formerly in a role as a constructive Arab leader; (d) U.A.R.-Tunisian differences have similarly been reduced; and (e) the assignment of a new U.S. Ambassador affords an opportunity for an initiative.

A particular problem is presented by outstanding invitations which Nasser has to visit Cuba, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela. There are unofficial indications that Nasser may visit some of these countries in the fall, perhaps in connection with a trip to the next United Nations General Assembly. While Nasser might be reluctant to compromise the possibility of an official visit to the United States by visiting a Castro-ite Cuba at the same time, our new Ambassador,/3/ if authorized to allude to the possibility of a United States visit, would have to obtain an understanding that a Nasser trip to Cuba either immediately before, after or otherwise in conjunction with a visit here would be unacceptable. The Ambassador's allusion to a U.S. visit would, of course, avoid either the form or the substance of a commitment.

/3/President Kennedy appointed John S. Badeau as Ambassador to the United Arab Republic on May 29. He presented his credentials on July 19. Information relating to Badeau's appointment, which was recommended by Under Secretary Bowles, is in Department of State, Secretary's Staff Meetings: Lot 66 D 147, Chester Bowles' Telcons, February 1961 and March 1961.

Outside events continually arise which have an important impact on U.S.-U.A.R. relations. For this reason, it would be advisable not to extend Nasser a formal invitation for a visit here far in advance of the suggested time for the trip. Accordingly, we believe considerable latitude will be needed to assure that, in arranging a Nasser visit, we take advantage of special circumstances which may arise. At the same time, we believe it would be helpful for hints about such a visit to be dropped to Nasser in the near future. In this way, Nasser's desire to make an official visit here may be turned to our advantage by encouraging him to adopt a more moderate attitude on such questions as Cuba where extremism would obviously render an official visit out of the question.

In view of the foregoing considerations, we suggest that you approve the following preliminary recommendations with a view to an eventual visit here by Nasser:

1. That, in principle, a visit here by Nasser would be useful.

2. That such a visit be tentatively scheduled for the spring of 1962, although an earlier date would not be precluded if this proves feasible on political grounds and in the light of other commitments. The dates for an official visit would not be discussed with Nasser until a few weeks before the desired time.

3. That our new Ambassador to the U.A.R. be authorized orally to inform Nasser, when he presents his Letters of Credence (which we now estimate will be during the last week of June), that you are very much looking forward to inviting him to pay an official visit here as soon as both his schedule and yours will permit./4/

/4/In a May 11 memorandum to Bowles, Talbot recommended that this memorandum be sent to the President and noted that an invitation to Nasser had been periodically under consideration in the Department of State. "While we do not wish formally to recommend to the President at this time that Nasser be invited to come to this country, the President has informally expressed to me the opinion that, under appropriate circumstances, Nasser should be invited to come here. Accordingly, we feel it would be desirable to bring some of the considerations which bear on this problem to the President's attention. We would hope in this way to obtain preliminary guidance in connection both with a possible eventual invitation to Nasser and in connection with the consultations which we will soon be having with our new Ambassador-designate to the U.A.R." (Department of State, Central Files, 786B.11/5-1161) Bundy passed this memorandum to President Kennedy on June 9; see Document 64.

Chester Bowles/5/

/5/Printed from a copy that indicates Bowles signed the original.

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


Washington, May 17, 1961.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, Iran 61. Top Secret. Drafted by R.H.B. Wade of the Office of International Security Affairs. (Memorandum from W. Bundy to McNamara, May 18; ibid., OSD Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Iran 000.1--1961)

Presidential Task Force for Iran Recommendations (S)

/2/The Iran Task Force draft report, dated May 15, contains the original draft of the Task Force's recommendations. See Supplement, the compilation on Iran. A notebook in Department of State, NEA/GTI Files: Lot 66 D 173, contains preliminary drafts and commentaries on them. The text of the original draft recommendations was also sent to Secretary Rusk (who was in Geneva for the Conference on Laos) in Tosec 142, May 16. (Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/5-1661) The Task Force's recommendations were discussed at the meeting of the National Security Council on May 19 and are included in the Record of Action for the meeting (see Document 51).

1. In view of the strategic importance of Iran the Joint Chiefs of Staff concur generally with the political and economic recommendations which are designed to bolster the present Western-oriented government; in addition, the recommendation to continue for the present to support currently existing Iranian military forces up to the approximate level of 200,000 men is sound.

2. With regard to other recommendations of a military nature, specifically, paragraphs II.5, III.10, and III.11, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are ready to cooperate wholeheartedly in these proposed studies. However, it should be noted that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for military reasons, have gone on record recommending the United States join CENTO. Further, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider it timely to advise you that the present approved contingency plan for Iran (CINCNELM OPLAN 215-60) is based, in part, on the assumption that should US forces become overtly engaged with the armed forces of the USSR, general war will exist and general war plans will be invoked. Viewed in the context of the foregoing assumption, recommendations II.5a, and III.11 might be construed as major revisions of current military policy. Such a connotation is misleading without a detailed supporting military study. In the absence of such a study at the present time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff desire to withhold concurrence in so much of the recommendation in paragraph III.11 as pertains to the size and nature of the force to be employed. Subject to the foregoing remarks, the Joint Chiefs of Staff concur in the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force for Iran.

3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff suggest that all further studies and examinations of military concepts, plans and actions relating to strengths, types of forces and possible deployment, recommended by the Task Force for Iran, be undertaken with full participation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

4. Additionally, the Joint Chiefs of Staff request that in the future provisions be made for their timely participation in the formulation of Task Force positions on policy papers such as this and the one now under development by the Korean Task Force./3/

/3/McNamara forwarded Lemnitzer's memorandum to McGeorge Bundy on May 15 for distribution to NSC members under cover of a memorandum that proposed alternate language for recommendation III.11. The Department of Defense revisions appear in the text of the recommendations printed in Document 51. A copy of McNamara's memorandum is in Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 70 D 265, NSC--Position Paper, Iran--1961-1964. See also Supplement, the compilation on Iran.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

L.L. Lemnitzer
Joint Chiefs of Staff

50. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy

Washington, May 18, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, Iran, 5/16/61-5/22/61. Secret.

Iranian Task Force Report

The thrust of this report is that we must vigorously support the new Amini government as the best, and perhaps last good chance of forestalling Iran's slippery slide into chaos. The demonstrations in Teheran on 2-4 May have made not only the Shah but the State Department face up at last to this alarming trend.

All Task Force members agree that Amini's moderate reformist program offers the only good alternative to an unpopular military dictatorship or a Mosadeqist revolution. Even the Shah claims to fervently support Amini for these reasons. Thus his advent provides an opportunity which we must seize.

However, the gut issue was how far we should really go in supporting Amini, and even risk the Shah's displeasure by pressing him to do the same. The Embassy, and some State officers, felt that Amini might represent just another reformist interlude, and that the Shah would begin to undercut him (as he has previous prime ministers) once the Shah had recovered from his case of nerves. State has perennially been reluctant to press the Shah very hard, with the result that not much has been accomplished.

But the Task Force consensus is that with Iran now pretty far down the road to chaos, we had better do everything feasible to give the Amini "experiment" a fighting chance, helping to protect him against pressures from both the Shah and the left. This represents a significant change in policy.

The Task Force has come up with a pretty good action program to this end. It is oriented more toward economic needs and social reform than toward paying the Shah military baksheesh again (see pp. 1-5 of Report):

a. Iran faces a "cash" crisis. Though it occurred largely through mismanagement, the Seven Year Plan Organization can't pay its current bills. Hence a prompt cash grant of the $15 million earmarked for FY '62 budgetary support of Iranian forces is recommended. We should be prepared to grant an additional $5 million if Amini needs it to pay for politically essential salary increases, etc.

b. In view of the urgency of the situation we must put aside the administrative obstacles which in the past have made us unable to disburse funds rapidly enough to meet Iranian needs.

c. We should reorient our longer-range economic aid toward support of the Iranian Seven Year Plans (as proposed by Labouisse Task Force).

d. We should back Amini's reform program positively but discreetly, and in a way which "so far as possible" does not arouse the Shah's active opposition; also seeking to forestall any military coup against Amini (e.g. from General Bakhtiar).

e. We should hold for the moment to current levels of military aid and not join CENTO, while urgently examining other ways of reassuring the Shah about the external threat.

Presidential Action Recommended. The potential weakness of the action program is a certain ambiguity as to how vigorously we should support Amini. Hence, besides approving the Task Force proposals, I recommend that you:

1. Make unmistakably clear that we must do everything possible to insure the success of the Amini "experiment", if necessary pushing both the Shah and Amini (and repeat this injunction to Ambassador Holmes).

2. Direct that we take special measures to advise both Amini and the Shah that we back Amini's reform program (e.g. a Presidential letter or special mission), but that continued US support will be conditional on prompt and effective Iranian action to carry out these and related measures to resolve Iran's basic political and economic problems.

3. Direct that the Task Force be kept in being (State was reluctant to so recommend) as a follow-through mechanism, charged specifically with:

a. Assuring that its action program receives full inter-agency support.

b. Contingency planning against possibility of Amini's failure or ouster.

c. Review of US role in CENTO, and other means of reassuring Iran against Soviet military threat (paras. 5 and 10 of Task Force Report). I would also recommend a review of MAP for Iran be added.

d. Review of US contingency plans for intervention in case of Soviet attack (para. 11).

R.W. Komer/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

51. Record of Action No. 2427, Taken at the 484th Meeting of the National Security Council

Washington, May 19, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95. Secret. Approved by the President on May 24. A list of participants at the NSC meeting, which was on the last page of the Records of Action taken at the meeting, and the other actions taken at the meeting (2426 and 2428) are not printed. The President presided at the meeting and Assistant Secretary Talbot and Ambassador Holmes attended for the Department of State.

U.S. Policy Toward Iran (NSC Action No. 2420;/2/ Report of the Task Force on Iran dated May 15, 1961, entitled "A Review of Problems in Iran and Recommendations for the National Security Council")/3/

/2/See Document 41.

/3/See footnote 2, Document 49.

a. Discussed the report of the Task Force on Iran, dated May 15, and revised the report's recommendations to read as follows:/4/

/4/The text of the recommendations for immediate action was sent to the Embassy in Tehran in telegram 1293, May 29. (Department of State, Central Files, 788.5-MSP/5-2961)

"II. Recommendations for Immediate Action

1. That the U.S. make a major effort to back the new Government in Iran as the best instrument in sight for promoting orderly political, economic and social evolution in Iran, and for averting serious and damaging political developments.

2. That to this end the U.S. encourage Amini positively but discreetly in any serious efforts to solve Iran's immediate political and economic problems and to construct a broad political synthesis. This encouragement should be given in such a manner to avoid so far as possible arousing the Shah's active opposition. The U.S. should be prepared to tolerate certain seemingly anti-American actions by Amini which do not really damage any major American interest.

3. That the U.S. should not favor any military coup against the Amini Regime.

4. That the U.S. reorient its foreign aid program in Iran to put more emphasis on long-range economic developments as envisaged in the report of the Presidential Task Force on Foreign Economic Assistance, and in addition:

a. Inform the Government of Iran immediately of our intention to make a cash grant of $15 million payable as soon as required by the Iranians.

b. Be prepared to make an additional $5 million grant of FY 1962 funds to the Government of Iran for general budgetary purposes if, at a later date, the situation in Iran requires such action.

c. Modify U.S. executive procedures in order to assure the timely flow of development loan funds.

5. That the Departments of State and Defense, as a means of providing more substantial assurance to Iran and in an attempt to reduce Iranian pressure for military assistance, urgently examine:

a. The feasibility and political-military implications of deploying earmarked U.S. forces to locations that would permit more rapid assist-ance to Iran in the event of Soviet or Soviet-supported attack;

b. The desirability of informing the Government of Iran more specifically of U.S. unilateral plans for military action in Iran's support of any deployments determined to be feasible.

III. Recommendations for Further Action

The actions proposed above can do no more than help the new Iranian regime to grapple with the country's more urgent problems. These actions will have meaning only to the extent that the government moves effectively on political, economic, social, psychological, and military issues. We too must have a follow-through program for long-range developments to strengthen the fabric of Iranian society. To this end, the Task Force recommends further:

6. That the U.S., while supporting the Monarchy as the symbol of unity and a stabilizing influence in Iran, more actively encourage the Shah to move toward a more constitutional role.

7. That the U.S. encourage the formation and growth of broadly based political parties in Iran.

8. That the U.S., in keeping before responsible Iranian officials the risks which may be involved in an Iranian rapprochement with the Soviet Union, avoid giving the impression that the continuance of present tensions between Iran and the USSR is a U.S. goal.

9. That the U.S. continue for the present to support currently existing Iranian military forces up to the approximate level of 200,000 men. In this connection, we should adhere to those aspects of the 1958 Presidential letter to the Shah/5/ stressing the operational proficiency of existing forces but deferring consideration of the activation of additional units.

/5/Dated July 19, 1958; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XII, pp. 575-576.

10. That the Departments of State and Defense comprehensively study the potentialities of advancing U.S. interest through CENTO.

11. That the U.S. make no present decision whether or how it would react militarily to Soviet attack on Iran, but as a means for identifying the key military and political considerations in reaching such a decision illustrative military plans should be developed for such action on the basis of at least the following alternatives: (a) the prompt introduction of U.S. conventional forces in a strength up to two divisions, and (b) the prompt deployment of nuclear striking power so that it could be brought to bear in the Soviet border areas of Iran. The military planning called for by this paragraph, and the joint State/Defense study called for under paragraph 5-a above, should include an assessment of the effect of such deployments or other action on the general war posture of the U.S., weighing such effects against an estimate of the likelihood that Soviet action against Iran would in fact lead to a general war on many fronts."

b. Agreed that NSC 6010, "U.S. Policy Toward Iran,"/6/ is no longer applicable and is to be considered as having been replaced by the above actions.

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

c. Noted that the Task Force would remain in being for such follow-through action on the above directive as its chairman deems appropriate.

52. Special National Intelligence Estimate

SNIE 34.2-61

Washington, May 23, 1961.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files. 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 Department of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, Defense, and The Joint Staff." All members of the U.S. Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on May 23, except the Atomic Energy Commission representative to the USIB and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, who abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.


The Problem

To estimate the short-term outlook for stability in Iran in the light of recent political changes.

The Estimate

1. The estimates of the fundamental forces and trends in Iran contained in NIE 34-61, "The Outlook for Iran," dated 28 February 1961, remain valid.
/2/ However, rising unrest in the country, as most recently manifested in demonstrations in Tehran, the largest since Mossadegh's day, and by the consequent governmental changes, indicates that pressures against the Shah's regime may be reaching a critical point.

/2/Document 16.

2. In this situation, the Amini government, which came to power on 6 May, introduces a new element. Prime Minister Ali Amini is a well-known critic of the Shah and recent governments, and a proponent of evolutionary reform for Iran. He owes his present position to the fact that the Shah was convinced that in the crisis Amini was the only man acceptable to the military, the nationalists, and the conservatives, and therefore able to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. Amini's announced program includes a strong campaign against corruption, and for political, administrative, fiscal, and judicial reforms, and implementation of the land distribution law.

3. Amini's most urgent problem will be to maintain this acceptability while achieving sufficient authority as Prime Minister to cope with the financial and administrative mess he has inherited and the touchy political and legal problems created by dissolution of the Majlis (Parliament) and pressures for early elections. He will also be confronted with greater public expressions of discontent made possible by certain concessions toward freedom of the press and assembly which he has made. Amini is an effective administrator and has a wide range of personal contacts among political and military leaders, though no organized political following. His character suggests that he will make a more serious effort than his predecessors to avoid subservience to the Shah and to carry out his program.

4. The Shah was apparently frightened by the recent crisis into delegating considerable authority to Amini, although he has sought to retain close control of the armed forces. The Shah probably regards this delegation as only temporary, since he strongly believes in the necessity of concentrating power in his own hands. He is extremely skillful at manipulating factions and leaders, and no Prime Minister since Mossadegh has been able to stand up to him. Should Amini be able to stabilize the situation sufficiently to enable the Shah to recover from his present fright, the latter will move to resume the dominant position. If he concluded that he could no longer exercise such domination, he might abdicate and leave the country rather than become a mere figurehead.

5. Barring a military coup which might oust either the Shah or Amini or both, it is highly probable that sooner or later their present uneasy collaboration will develop into a struggle for power between them. It is impossible at present to estimate the duration or outcome of such a struggle.

6. The Iranian military will be a crucial factor in future developments. However, it contains a number of conflicting factions and ideologies. Many of the junior and middle level officers, and probably a few of the top ranks, are sympathetic to the kind of reforms included in Amini's program. On the other hand, the upper echelons of the officer corps have a vested interest in the status quo, which is necessarily threatened by such reforms. Although they acquiesced in Amini's appointment, they are already apprehensive regarding the trend of events.

7. The nationalists, who have become increasingly active politically during the last year, will also be a key factor, although they too represent a variety of points of view. The more radical of them will almost certainly oppose Amini from the beginning. Some of the moderates may work with him as long as they retain hope that he will move toward their objectives. One of Amini's major problems will be to acquire enough support among urban nationalists to weaken their capability to apply pressure against the regime as they have done in the past eight months. A major source of friction in Amini's relations with the nationalists will be the timing and conduct of the elections.

8. The Iranian Communist Party (the Tudeh) is not now a major political factor. It has been hard hit by SAVAK and almost all of its leaders are in jail or exile. For the next year or so, at least, it is not likely to try to come out in the open as it did in 1953, but probably will become more active in trying to penetrate nationalist groups. In the event of sustained political disturbances, it would probably be able to reconstitute itself and might emerge as a major force.

9. External factors could also have a significant effect on the Iranian scene. US support will be an important asset for Amini, but only if it is given in such a way as to avoid his being widely labeled as "merely an American tool." Most military elements would probably seek to sound out US reaction to a takeover by them before acting.

10. Communist propaganda is already attacking the Amini government, claiming that it is merely a US creation designed to shore up the corrupt regime of the Shah. The Soviet Union probably feels that, if the Amini regime is quickly discredited and falls, the trend toward a revolutionary upset in Iran would be accelerated. However, should the Amini government show strength and staying power, the USSR might experiment with a softer line, offering economic aid and possibly some political concessions, such as a revision of the Irano-Soviet treaties, in return for a loosening of ties with the West.

11. One thing is clear to date: the appointment of Amini represents a significant step toward liberalization of the government. Should Amini be able to develop an independent position and implement a major reform program, the chances of evolutionary development toward more stable and representative government in Iran would be enhanced. If, on the other hand, the Shah should attempt to force Amini into a puppet's role, or should replace him with some politician subservient to the throne, the unrest which brought Amini to power would be likely to break out more violently than ever. Likewise, a sharp turn to the left by the Amini government would provoke a strong reaction from still powerful conservative forces.

12. In general, we think that the chances of a coup by military elements during the next year or so are greater than they appeared to be when NIE 34-61 was written (February 1961). However, we cannot predict whether or when such a coup will occur. A coup could take a number of forms: a movement against Amini by traditional conservative elements in the officer corps; a coup by more progressive senior officers against the Shah to support Amini; or a military coup simply to end indecisive squabbling among the Shah and civilian politicians. Such coups would not necessarily involve the elimination of the Shah, but might result in a major reduction in his personal powers, in which case he might abdicate. Any of these coup governments might stabilize the situation temporarily; however, they would probably lack popular support, would almost certainly be plagued by factionalism, and would be subject to increasing pressure from nationalists and the Tudeh.

13. There is the additional possibility of a radical nationalist government coming to power as the result of a coup based in the lower and middle officer ranks or of large-scale civil disturbances in which important army elements in effect joined the demonstrators. It too would probably be ridden with factionalism, and internal instability would be likely to continue. A swing toward radical social and economic measures at home and neutralism in foreign policy would be virtually certain.

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

Washington, May 26, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884A.1901/5-2661. Secret. Drafted by Hamilton and cleared by Furnas.

U.S. Scientists' Visit to Israel's Dimona Reactor

Messrs. U.M. Staebler and J.W. Croach, the United States scientists permitted to visit Israel's Dimona reactor responsive to our suggestions that such a visit would be helpful in allaying international concern, have returned from their visit. On Thursday, May 25, they discussed their findings with officers of the Department of State.

Their written report will be available very soon./2/ In the meantime, it is of general interest that they were received with cordiality and permitted to visit the several installations which are engaged in nuclear research, including the reactor at Dimona. They report themselves as satisfied that nothing was concealed from them and that the reactor is of the scope and peaceful character previously described to United States officials by representative of the Government of Israel.

/2/Not found.

The two scientists were informed that Israel's decision to expand nuclear development beyond the laboratory research stage was taken in 1957 with the appointment of a committee, which first considered and then rejected because of its expense the establishment of two large reactors for production of industrial power. Instead, it selected the program which it is now pursuing, i.e., the construction of a research reactor which can provide experience for scientific and technical personnel in essentially all of the problems posed by a power reactor. The present center was conceived as a means for gaining experience in construction of a nuclear facility which would eventually prepare them for the production of nuclear power. They have chosen natural uranium as fuel because of a desire to be able to produce as much as possible of it from their own vast potash resources. Ground was broken for the plant in 1959.

It might be desirable to bring the following tentative conclusions and opinions of the scientists to the President's attention, prior to his May 30 meeting with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion:

1. From the standpoint of keeping abreast of the reactor's development and ascertaining that its purpose continues to be non-military, a second visit would not be necessary before another year.

2. Israel's obsession with secrecy is regrettable, but perhaps understandable in view of Israel's physical and political circumstances. Israel's reasons for secrecy include: (a) a possible boycott by the Arabs of manufacturers on whom Israel depends, (b) proximity of the reactor to international borders with vulnerability to sabotage, and (c) conviction that Arab awareness of Israel's scientific capability would not be in Israel's national interest.

3. While, like others of its size and character, the reactor eventually will produce small quantities of plutonium suitable for weapons, there is no present evidence that the Israelis have weapon production in mind.

4. The Israelis report the reactor will not be completed before 1964, although this may be too conservative an estimate.

5. There is strong evidence of close French scientific collaboration and support.

6. The reactor and its complex of laboratories, storehouses, fuel dumps, water towers, general services, transient quarters for scientists, etc., occupies a square 750 meters to a side. The surrounding fenced security area, however, is much larger.

7. On United States scales, the reactor, when completed, might represent a $15 million investment, with the supporting plant another $20 million.

8. Even with the Great Power assistance they may have had from France, Israel's Dimona project is a most creditable accomplishment both in concept and execution.

Melvin L. Manfull/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Manfull signed the original above Battle's typed signature.

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

Washington, May 26, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.11-KE/5-2661. Confidential. Drafted by Crawford on May 24.

Reaction to Presidential Letters to Middle East Leaders

/2/For additional documentation on the responses from Arab leaders to President Kennedy's May 11 letter, see Supplement, the compilation on the Arab-Israeli dispute.

While no final replies have been received, we believe the President may be interested in the country-by-country, preliminary reactions to his May 11 letters to Arab leaders. The President's letters have so far been held in confidence by all recipients except, apparently, King Saud, and no publicity regarding them appeared until May 23.

The United Arab Republic: Initial reaction to the President's letter appears constructive. A confidant of Nasser informed our Chargé on May 20 that the President's letter is "very important", and opined cautiously that some measure of progress on Palestine might be envisaged provided the U.S. is really prepared to be firm and fair.

Lebanon: At the time of its delivery by Ambassador McClintock, President Chehab read the President's letter with careful attention. He remarked that the three most urgent problems affecting Israel-Arab relations are: the refugees, diversion of the Jordan River by Israel, and Arab fears of Israel's atomic research program. The usually moderate Lebanese President commented, however, that even if all these issues could be resolved, deep Arab hostility to Israel, a state established at Arab expense by armed force supported from abroad, would remain.

Jordan: King Hussein read the President's letter with obvious interest. He said he wished to give it thorough study before replying.

Iraq: The letter was delivered to Foreign Minister Jawad, who assured our Ambassador it would be discussed with Prime Minister Qasim the same day. No further reaction has been received.

Yemen: The Imam is still indisposed as a result of wounds received during the recent attempt on his life. Our Chargé delivered the letter on May 20 to Crown Prince Badr, the Foreign Minister.

Saudi Arabia: Upon receiving the President's letter, King Saud said he was glad to know of the President's interest in Near East problems and looked forward to learning his views, especially on Israel. According to press reports coming from the Middle East on May 23, King Saud has subsequently called in the Ambassadors of the other Arab countries in Saudi Arabia to acquaint them with the contents of the President's letter and to suggest that a meeting of the Arab League Council be convened to formulate replies. This information has not yet, however, been confirmed by our Embassy in Jidda.

Israel: On May 23 the Israel radio broadcast news that a letter had been sent from the President to King Saud in an effort to assuage Arab sensitivities over Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's forthcoming visit to the United States.

Melvin L. Manfull/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Manfull signed the original above Battle's typed signature.

55. Memorandum From the President's Deputy Special Counsel (Feldman) to President Kennedy

Washington, May 26, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries, Israel--Security 1961-1963. No classification marking.

Subjects for discussion at meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion

1. Israel's security problem

Mr. Ben Gurion will stress the Arab military threat and evidence of a buildup along Israel's borders. He will probably request (a) a security declaration from us; and (b) substantial military aid, particularly a supply of ground-to-air missiles.

Our answer

The United States determination to assist small nations needs no formal declaration, and such a declaration would have more of a disturbing than a stabilizing effect. It might invite Arab approaches to the USSR. Moreover, it is doubtful that we could persuade either our allies or the Soviet Union to join in a multilateral declaration. With regard to the Hawk Missile, this would introduce a new, dangerous and very costly phase in an already desperate arms race. When Israel obtains the French Mirage Fighter it will have a combat plane superior to the MIG-19.

2. Regional disarmament

Mr. Ben Gurion will urge reduction of burdensome defense expenditures for all states in the Middle East, to be achieved by big power agreement not to introduce additional arms.

Our answer

We will examine the possibilities, but there seems to be little prospect of agreement with other major powers upon an arms control program. For the Soviets to join in such an arrangement, they would undoubtedly insist that the CENTO countries be included. This is not feasible from the United States point of view.

3. Israel's atomic energy activities

Mr. Ben Gurion has assured us that Israel's new reactor at Dimona is utilized solely for peaceful purposes. However, he may urge that the growing Arab threat would leave Israel with no alternative but to develop a nuclear military capability.

Our answer

Our findings, resulting from the visit of Dr. Croach and Dr. Staebler, confirm the peaceful purposes of the reactor advertised by the Israelis. But we should seek similar visits at frequent intervals. If the Israelis merely give the appearance of having decided to embark upon the production of fissionable material and weapons manufacture, it might set off violence resulting from an Arab mood of desperation. We must oppose concealment of Israeli intentions because of the unsettling effect of this reactor in a highly volatile part of the world.

4. Arab refugees

Mr. Ben Gurion is unlikely to raise this question, but this question is a major element in continuing Arab-Israeli tensions. The United States has contributed approximately $260 million to support the refugees and continues to pay about $25 million a year.

The United States position

If the refugee problem is solved, it could break the log-jam to general Arab-Israeli peace. We support the approach by the Palestine Conciliation Commission. This consists of (a) a reconnaissance mission by a PCC special representative; and (b) a practical, phased program of repatriation, resettlement and compensation which can be worked out without endangering Israel's security. Ultimately refugees would be offered 3 choices: (a) repatriation, (b) resettlement in special work projects in Arab countries, and (c) resettlement, with United Nations encouragement, in non-Arab countries. Mr. Ben Gurion would have difficulty with the repatriation alternative, but it should be explained that no one would be repatriated without a careful screening, so that Israel's security would be protected and only limited numbers would be repatriated annually under a careful phasing operation. If we can get Israeli assurances of acceptance of the principle of choice--either now or to the PCC special representative when he visits Israel--this would be a solid break-through toward peace in the Middle East.

5. Jordan Valley water development

Mr. Ben Gurion will point out that water for the Negev is the key to Israel's future and that Israel is planning to divert a portion of the Jordan River by 1963 along the lines of the Johnston Plan allocation. The Arabs are threatening both military action and diversion of the headwaters of the Jordan. Mr. Ben Gurion would urge that an equitable solution would allocate the Jordan River to Israel and the Yarmuk to Jordan.

Our answer

We believe the Jordan Valley's future lies with a unified development plan along the lines of the Eric Johnston recommendations. Substantial, largely unpublicized assistance has been given Israel for water development, $45 million since 1958. Jordan has received $6 million in the same period of time. We do not consider Johnston's effort implied a moral, political or financial obligation on the part of the United States. Rather, it is basically a responsibility of the riparians. We might suggest (a) an open statement by Israel of its intention to stay within the Johnston allocation to help reduce tensions, or (b) mediation by IBRD. The de facto solution suggested by Ben Gurion allocating the Jordan River to Israel and the Yarmuk to Jordan is not equitable. It would deprive down-stream Arab users of that portion of the Jordan River legitimately theirs.

6. The UAR's role in Middle Eastern problems

Mr. Ben Gurion will contend that Nasser is a Soviet tool seeking domination of the Middle East and Africa. He will argue that the Arab boycott of Israel and the restrictions on the Suez Canal prevent peaceful development of the area.

Our answer

We might point out that Nasser's efforts to establish influence over Africans and other Arabs is having a very limited success. The United States may have differences with Nasser but must seek a viable relationship as an alternative to forcing him to rely on the Soviet bloc. The United States opposition to the Arab boycott and UAR restrictions on Suez Canal transit is unequivocal, but we believe the United Nations is the most effective channel through which to seek solutions.

7. Israel's relations with non-Arab governments

Mr. Ben Gurion will seek support for Israel's Point 4 activities in Africa which influence these countries toward a Western orientation; he will seek support for Israel's efforts to improve relations with nations in a middle position between the Arabs and Israel, such as India; and he will seek United States influence to include Israel in regional groupings such as the Common Market.

Our answer

(a) The United States approves Israel's efforts with underdeveloped countries but questions the advisability of collaboration or subsidization. Such collaboration with the United States might deprive Israel of its most important asset-- freedom from the stigma of imperialism. But the United States would continue to provide Israel with large-scale aid so that Israeli funds could be freed for technical aid to Africa.

(b) Although we would not initiate any action with India or Pakistan in behalf of Israel, if they seek our position we would express sympathy for Israel's point of view.

(c) We have supported Common Market applications of Greece and Turkey, but they provide no analogy for Israel because Greece and Turkey are contiguous to the Common Market and have NATO relationships. The European groupings must decide for themselves whether to include Israel. With regard to OECD, we are in the process of determining the basis for additional memberships.

8. Jordan

Mr. Ben Gurion would urge continued and even expanded political and economic support of Jordan and Hussein. If this is done, it will contribute to area stability and create jobs for refugees, thus facilitating their resettlement and integration into the economy. He feels that Hussein is in trouble due to his marriage to an English girl and the attacks upon him by the UAR.

Our answer

We would agree that Jordan is the key to stability in the area. We are now providing that country with assistance of between $50 million and $70 million a year. Increases are not feasible because Jordan is already receiving as much assistance as can be effectively utilized. Should something happen to Hussein, we would expect Israel to refrain from any precipitous action. His overthrow would not necessarily be followed by the installation of a Cairo dominated government.

This memorandum reflects the point of view of the Department of State in every respect.


56. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy

Washington, May 29, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, McGeorge Bundy's Memoranda to the President, 5/29/61-5/31/61. Top Secret.

Specific answers to your questions of May 29 (Ben Gurion)

1. We have an agreement with Ben Gurion not to announce the visit of the scientists to the Israeli reactor without his approval. Talbot would be very pleased if you could get him to release us from this commitment, at least far enough for us to inform Arab leaders that you have made this successful investigation, when you next write them. It would be even better if he would allow the scientists to make their own public statement, and of course best of all would be if he would now authorize a visit by neutral scientist. Moreover, we want to press upon him our hope that visits of this kind may be conducted, because while the reactor is clean as a whistle today, it could be turned in a dirty direction at any time.

2. At the last count, Nasser was said to have about 36 MIGs, but this is not a hard figure and if we get better dope it will be sent on tomorrow.

3. I attach an important message from Diefenbaker and a memorandum of comment from the Department of State about Ben Gurion's visit./2/ As you will see, Ben Gurion would like to have a joint US-USSR declaration guaranteeing the territorial integrity and independence of all Mid-Eastern states. Diefenbaker thinks it is not a bad idea. State strongly disapproves of our getting into it. It seems to them certain that both the Arabs and the Soviet Union would exploit any initiative of this sort, and they particularly hope that you will not give Ben Gurion any encouragement upon which he might float the rumor that the U.S. is friendly to this proposal. Attached is a possible answer to Diefenbaker/3/ which you might give to Talbot in New York for transmission if you approve of if. He will be there for your meeting with Ben Gurion.

/2/On May 28, President Kennedy had received a message from Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker, who had held talks with Ben Gurion in Canada prior to Ben Gurion's visit to the United States. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.84A42/5-2861)

/3/Not further identified. In a May 29 memorandum from Battle to Bundy, the Department of State advised that it would be unwise to pursue such a statement at that time and forwarded a suggested text for a brief note of appreciation from Kennedy to Diefenbaker. (Ibid., 611.80/5-2961) See Supplement, the compilation on Israel.

McG. B./4/

/4/Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.

57. Memorandum of Conversation

New York, May 30, 1961, 4:45-6 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.8411/5-3061. Secret. Drafted by Talbot and approved by the White House on June 29. The meeting was held in the President's suite at the Waldorf Astoria. The time is from the President's Appointment Books. (Kennedy Library)

Conversation between President Kennedy and Prime Minister Ben Gurion

/2/Additional documentation relating to Ben Gurion's visit is ibid., National Security Files, Country Series, Israel, Subjects: Ben-Gurion Visit: 5/20/61-6/2/61. A copy of the briefing book prepared in the Department of State for the President is in Department of State, NEA/IAI Files: Lot 70 D 305, Ben-Gurion Visit 1961.

The President
Prime Minister Ben Gurion of Israel
Ambassador Avraham Harman of Israel
Phillips Talbot, Assistant Secretary of State for NEA
Myer Feldman, Deputy Special Assistant to the President

After an exchange of amenities, in which each expressed his pleasure at meeting the other, the President and Prime Minister Ben Gurion plunged into a discussion of Israel's Dimona reactor. The President said he was glad that two American scientists had had an opportunity to visit the reactor and had given him a good report of it. Since some nations are disturbed at the prospect of the construction in Israel of a large reactor, with plutonium producing capability, the President suggested that--"on the theory that a woman should not only be virtuous but also have the appearance of virtue"--our problem is how to disseminate information about the nature of the reactor in such a way as to remove any doubts other nations might have as to Israel's peaceful purposes.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to talk about the reactor in the context of Israel's problems.

The greatest of these problems, and an almost insoluble one, he described as Israel's serious shortage of fresh water. Even when the Jordan River is effectively tapped there will not be enough fresh water for the southern part of Israel, he added. The only solution to this continuing shortage that Israel could discern is desalinization of sea water, a process that is technically possible but would be economically practicable only if very cheap power were available. Israel hopes that atomic power, which is now expensive, will become much cheaper and will make possible the economic desalinization of sea water. It had therefore consulted with Dr. Bhabha of India and with scientists from England and had followed the suggestion that Israel should gain the necessary scientific knowledge to take full advantage of the coming age of nuclear power. In building the Dimona reactor for this purpose the Prime Minister acknowledged that Israel had received assistance from France.

Israel's main--and for the time being, only--purpose is this, the Prime Minister said, adding that "we do not know what will happen in the future; in three or four years we might have need for a plant to process plutonium"./3/

/3/Presumably plutonium produced in the Dimona reactor could be processed in France, in the United States or in Israel. This multiplicity of processing opportunities would increase the difficulty of effective supervision. [Footnote in the source text.]

Commenting on the political and strategic implications of atomic power and weaponry, the Prime Minister said he does not believe that Russia wants to give atomic capacity to Egypt now but he does believe that "in ten or fifteen years the Egyptians presumably could achieve it themselves".

The President observed that while the Prime Minister's estimate might be correct, we do not want by our own actions to increase tensions in the Middle East. He explained that the United States is much involved with Israel in the Middle East and it is to our common interest that no country believe that Israel is contributing to the proliferation of atomic weapons. It is obvious, he added, that the UAR would not permit Israel to go ahead in this field without getting into it itself.

The President then asked again whether, as a matter of reassurance, the Arab states might be advised of findings of the American scientists who had viewed the Dimona reactor. In reply, the Prime Minister said, "You are absolutely free to do what you wish with the report. If you feel you should publish it, we have no objections."

The President expressed his appreciation of the Prime Minister's willingness to agree to this action. He added that of course the United States is sometimes suspect in matters dealing with Israel, "because we are close friends", and asked whether it would not be helpful to let neutral scientists also observe the reactor. Ben Gurion asked who are really neutrals these days? The President commented that although Khrushchev says that no man is neutral, there are, after all, such neutrals as the Scandinavians and the Swiss. The Prime Minister said he would have no objection to this. The President expressed his satisfaction at the Prime Minister's reply. He was pleased he could feel that Israel would agree to going ahead with this.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion then raised the question of Israel's security. The deficit is increasing in Israel's arms as compared to the UAR military equipment, he said; the UAR has more planes and tanks and now they have 200 Russian instructors. This means that while the gap in quantity is growing the gap in quality is being narrowed. Nasser's declared aim, the Prime Minister added, is to destroy not just to defeat Israel. "If they should defeat us they would do to the Jews what Hitler did". He asserted also that the Arabs do not value human life and that this makes the problem more difficult.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion referred to his visit last year with President Eisenhower./4/ On that visit he had asked the United States for weapons--especially for defensive weapons, because the UAR has 26 air fields and Israel has only four. Before leaving Washington he had asked whether he could leave the United States with the assumption that he would get the weapons, and had been told "that is a fair assumption". (Presumably the Prime Minister was referring to Hawks.) He said he still does not see why Israel cannot get these weapons. He felt it is in the best interest of the United States for Israel to have defensive weapons.

/4/Ben Gurion met with President Eisenhower on March 10, 1960, at the White House; see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XIII, pp. 280-288.

The President commented that he had not found records which permit a firm conclusion about what had been committed by the previous Administration, but that the problem, as we see it, is that while the Hawk is a defensive weapon it is also a missile and should missiles come into the Middle Eastern area, military weaponry will escalate fast. This is a problem, he said, to which we will continue to address ourselves, because we do not want to see Israel at a disadvantage. But we are reluctant to introduce missiles into the Middle East; the other side might then introduce ground-to-ground missiles. He repeated that if Israel were faced with a critical break-through of weapons on the other side, we would have our views of what to do. But we will need a better understanding of the danger and we hesitate to be the ones to introduce missiles into the region.

The Prime Minister explained that he was not asking for these weapons on the basis of a commitment made by the previous Administration but on the merits of the case. Acknowledging this, the President observed again that what we are concerned about is introducing missiles into the region.

There followed a brief discussion of tanks and planes available to the UAR and to Israel, with figures taken from the briefing book that the President had at hand. The Prime Minister said that the UAR has 300 fighters, with 200 more they could call upon from other Arab nations. Israel has ordered 60 Mirages from the French. The first of these may be delivered by the end of this year but it will take more than 12 months for them to be delivered in full. Commenting on the performance capability of the MIG 19, the President observed that we cannot eliminate the hazard but we would not want Israel to get into such a position of inferiority that an attack on it would be encouraged. The Prime Minister again suggested that the Hawk, a defensive weapon, would be the best way to avoid this danger at the present time and that it could not threaten any other country.

Summing up this aspect of the conversation, the President said that the Hawk had been given to only a few other countries and that if it were introduced into Israel the next development on the other side might be an air-to-ground or ground-to-ground missile. He said we will watch this matter with care and added, "You don't feel that this is a satisfactory answer to your request, but you can be assured that we will continue to watch the situation."

Turning to another subject, Prime Minister Ben Gurion commented that now the President was going to see Premier Khrushchev./5/ In 1956 Khrushchev and Bulganin and Prime Minister Eden had issued a declaration for the integrity and independence of all the states in the Middle East,/6/ and last year the French, on a visit in Moscow, had issued a similar declaration on May 19./7/ If a joint declaration like those of 1956 and 1960 could be issued by the President and Premier Khrushchev the Prime Minister felt it would be helpful.

/5/President Kennedy met with Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev at Vienna June 3-4.

/6/The statement on the Near East was part of a broader U.K.-Soviet statement issued on April 26 regarding the discussions of Prime Minister Eden, Chairman Bulganin, and Member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Khrushchev in London between April 12 and 27, 1956. The U.K. Government printed it as Command Paper No. 9753.

/7/Not identified.

The President asked what in the Prime Minister's judgment would be the response of Arab countries to such a declaration. To this the Prime Minister answered that several small countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq would accept the declaration gladly because they would feel it would protect them against Nasser. The President then asked whether Russia would be likely to do anything now to displease Nasser. Prime Minister Ben Gurion called this unlikely but added that if Khrushchev would be willing to do this it would help stabilize the situation in the Middle East. The President suggested that Nasser probably would object to this declaration, because he thinks that the present borders between Israel and the UAR are not fixed and he asked whether in this circumstance Khrushchev would be likely to accept such a declaration. The Prime Minister doubted that Khrushchev would do this but commented that it would be a test to see whether Khrushchev is really interested in relaxing world tensions. The President observed in this connection that he thinks Khrushchev is pushing hard on many issues.

The President expressed interest in the Prime Minister's views of Nasser's relations with Russia. These are very close, Ben Gurion answered. "Nasser is not a Communist, but he relies on Russia and gets Russian support to get into Africa. The African leaders are not Communists either--even Sekou Toure--but they are pro-Communist. Nasser is working very hard in these countries. His efforts help bring the Russians into them also."

On a broader front, the Prime Minister said he does not believe there will be a hot war. The American people don't want war, nor do the Russian people. Agreeing, the President observed that nevertheless the danger is there. The Soviet Union wants to push us out of Berlin. We cannot permit the USSR to destroy the Atlantic Alliance and we cannot permit ourselves to be forced out of Berlin, he said. If we should be forced out of Berlin Europe would no longer associate itself with us in NATO. And then, the Prime Minister added, you would be forced out of Europe. Yes, the President said, and then back to our own shores. But we don't intend that to happen.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion pointed out the United States accepted the status quo but the Russians do not. "The Russians think you are doomed, and they say so." The President responded that one can argue that systems in many countries may be doomed but not the people, adding, "I can say that doom would be hastened if we were to be run out of Berlin. What interest would you have in a guarantee from us if we let ourselves be pushed out of Berlin?" The Prime Minister responded again that a guarantee of Middle East borders would provide a test case of Soviet intentions. To this the President replied that he was not sure our security problems are not as great as Israel's. The Prime Minister saw in the two situations the difference that "we are the only remnants of a people that have been fighting for survival for the past 4000 years. If Nasser defeats us, we are destroyed."

The President asked the Prime Minister for his estimate of current tensions in the area of Israel. The Prime Minister responded that the borders are more or less quiet; there has been a little worry about Aqaba but the Secretary General has reassured him that everything was quiet there. Nevertheless the dangers remain in such places as Jordan and Iraq where regimes depend upon the life of a single man. They are much more worried than we are, the Prime Minister said, because Nasser can send someone to assassinate one man whereas in a democracy everybody would fight. Even Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey are afraid of what might happen. Such a declaration as he had suggested would, in the Prime Minister's view, give more confidence to all the smaller Arab and other Middle East peoples.

The President asked the Prime Minister's views of the Palestine Conciliation Commission, explaining that as the Prime Minister knew, the PCC (of which the United States is a member) is obliged to make a report in the fall of 1961. The President expressed the hope that there may be an opportunity there and asked how the Prime Minister felt about it. The latter recalled that in 1953 President Eisenhower had sent a messenger named Anderson/8/ to make two exploratory trips in the Middle East. At first Nasser was agreeable to the suggestions that were evolved but the minute he discovered that Israel was serious about them he changed his mind. "All questions in the Middle East depend upon Nasser."

/8/Reference is presumably to the Robert Anderson mission of 1955-1956.

The President said he thought we have to assume that Nasser will make our lives as difficult as possible, and the Prime Minister agreed, unless some pressure is generated among his people for peace.

The Prime Minister said that all the people in the uncommitted world are watching the U.S. and other Western countries. For these people, freedom does not mean what it does to us. What makes an impression is better standards of living and health and education. It is not just money they want; they want to feel that they are treated as human beings. This is why Israel is working with Africans. "If you will succeed with the Peace Corps idea--with Americans going out not as superior human beings but to help others--this psychological factor will be more important than the large amounts of money you give away."

The Prime Minister then described how Israel has brought Asians and Africans into its population and has made its Army an educational institution, which is of great interest to other countries such as Ghana that are trying to develop themselves. He spoke of the Afro-Asian Institute in the University where Asians and Africans are taught cooperation and of other programs that attract many people to learn in Israel. Hundreds of Indians are also coming to Israel, he said, although Nehru will have no relations with Israel. He regretted Nehru's attitude on this point and said that his excuse is that he wants to make peace in the area. "It is not for me to judge him. He is a great man. I admire him. There is democracy in India; it is the only country in Asia which is democratic except Japan. If Nehru goes I am not sure what will happen; but now it has democracy."

Continuing his comments on the general world situation, the Prime Minister observed that the only imperialistic country that exists now is Russia, which keeps under its domination many Muslim countries in Asia, former parts of China and many countries in Europe. Yet in the war of propaganda they win because they go against the status quo in other countries. Unless the West can provide what other countries need, we will lose.

Returning to the subject of the Palestine Conciliation Commission, the President stated that its new efforts need a sympathetic hearing because if they fail we may get a "Troika" commission. The United Nations is trying to get a neutral representative who will in turn make the proposal which will involve the three alternatives of repatriation or compensation with resettlement in the Arab countries or elsewhere.

In response, the Prime Minister commented that any commission would be likely to fail in this effort. "They--the UAR and any Arabs--don't care what happens to people. They regard the refugees as the best weapon at hand. If they could get hundreds of thousands of Arabs into Israel we would have those and still be surrounded by many millions of other Arabs." He then recapitulated the events immediately following Israel's independence when after several quiet days the Arabs left Israel in large number and in succeeding months Israel had to accept many hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from other countries. He also stated that Israel has absorbed as many Jewish refugees from Arab countries as they have absorbed Arab refugees from Israel.

The President observed that maybe the Arabs would not agree to any realistic plan than the PCC might put forward but if so we would rather have the responsibility of disagreement on them. We are likely to have our troubles with our Congress if the US continues paying 70% of the UNRWA costs for caring for refugees. If it appears that Israel is constructive, it will make the problem easier.

"Yes, it is always worth trying", the Prime Minister responded. "But until there is peace between Israel and the Arabs I don't see much chance of success."

The President said that although we had been attacked by the press in the UAR on Cuba and other matters, we want to do our best to see if this PCC effort can succeed. The Prime Minister recalled the recent Bandung Congress at which representatives of many states, including Communist China, attacked the U.S. He said that Israel had sent the U.S. information about this Congress about the way the people think and speak.

In summary, the President said that the conversation had covered several topics: on missiles, "I expressed a desire to continually review the missile situation. We are reluctant to give Israel missiles and you understand that, but we would be disturbed if Israel should get into a situation that would invite attack. We will keep the matter under continuing review in our Administration, I can assure you."

On the question of the security guaranty, "I'll see what the atmosphere is. We guess that Khrushchev will not wish to lessen the tension. We will have to feel our way through this. The problem probably will be that we won't get agreement on various issues. If we should, we might try to get an agreement limiting arms to all Africa also."

Before ending the conversation, the Prime Minister said he wished also to take note of the fact that Israel has good relations with Persia and Turkey. Turkey is the more stable and can take care of itself. In Persia there is a very difficult situation; while the people are monarchists, there is corruption and much difficulty. It would help if the U.S. could give them a little more help and encouragement. In response the President said that we and the previous administration have devoted more attention and effort to Iran than to almost any other country in that region. Iran has a large Army. During the recent riots some of our people had questioned whether the Army would support the Shah. There has been a good deal of corruption and there are even stories about the royal family. However, the President thought that this government represented the last best hope and we will do everything to support it. We are for this government and the new Prime Minister 100%. The Prime Minister said he was delighted to hear this.

In conclusion the President recalled his previous conversations with the Prime Minister. He wanted the Prime Minister to know that we wish relations between our two countries to be close and harmonious and that we want to be helpful in the Middle East. It was for this reason that he had recently written to Nasser./9/ Responding, the Prime Minister assured the President that he does not hate Arabs, that he regards them as human beings and that "we want you to help them." The President expressed his feeling that we want to maintain some influence with them.

/9/See Document 47.

As the Prime Minister rose to leave he handed to the President, as a gift, a book written in Latin, published in 1680. This book, he said, was a record of a visit to the Holy Land by the author, Radzivilli, who was a forebear of Prince Radziwill, the husband of President Kennedy's sister-in-law. Accepting the book with gratitude, the President said he was going to the christening of the Radziwills' child in London next week and, with the Prime Minister's permission, would present this book to the child.

The President and the Prime Minister parted with mutual expressions of respect.

58. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (McGhee)

Washington, May 30, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Egypt. Secret. Drafted by Brewer on May 29. Attached to a May 31 memorandum from McGhee to Walt Rostow, indicating that this memorandum was written in response to Rostow's query to McGhee on whether the United States might be able to deal more successfully with Nasser in light of the apparent improvement in U.S.-UAR relations. McGhee also noted that the memorandum printed here took the position that although there had been some recent improvement in U.S.-UAR relations, the improvement was more one of atmosphere than substance. McGhee concurred with NEA's conclusion that "we are on the right track provided we do not force the pace."

Prospects for Dealing with President Nasser

Your Conversation with me of May 23

/2/No record of the conversation has been found.

Regarding the inquiry which you indicated you had received from the White House as to whether current indications of an improved atmosphere in U.S.-U.A.R. relations might make it possible for us now to deal with President Nasser, the following information regarding recent and planned initiatives in U.S.-U.A.R. relations may be helpful.

There has been an undoubted improvement in the atmosphere in recent weeks, stemming largely from the U.A.R. need for PL-480 wheat, President Nasser's gratification at the President's recent letters and cordial talk with the U.A.R. Ambassador and mounting evidence of U.A.R.-Soviet friction. The pendulum in U.S.-U.A.R. relations is thus now swinging again in our direction. So far, however, this is a question of atmosphere rather than substance, prompted in part by factors over which we have no control, notably tensions in U.A.R.-Soviet relations and a reduction in inter-Arab friction. No significant modifications of substantive U.A.R. positions have yet occurred. With many of these, notably Cuba, the Congo, the Arab boycott and Israeli Canal transit, we disagree. Nor has there been any modification in the fundamental realities which form the framework of U.A.R. relations with the West and the Soviet Bloc. The Arab-Israel question, U.S. inability to purchase Egyptian cotton and continued U.A.R. dependence on the Soviet Bloc for large-scale military and economic assistance heavily circumscribe what can be done to develop a more fruitful U.S.-U.A.R. relationship, and we have no illusions that any broad understanding is possible. In this context, any effort to exert unilateral U.S. pressure on Nasser for quick solutions of central problems, such as the Palestine issue, would most likely: (a) undo the limited progress already made in improving U.S.-U.A.R. relations; (b) force the U.A.R. to express renewed support for extremist Arab positions; (c) render it more difficult for the U.A.R. to adopt a more balanced role on world problems such as the Congo where the U.A.R. has not always been unhelpful; and (d) afford further opportunities for Soviet exploitation.

Faced with the foregoing realities, we have concluded that, while it is not now feasible to expect significant help from Nasser in solving major international problems, much can be done to push the pendulum of U.S.-U.A.R. relations more in our direction. Embassy Cairo concurs in this general view. According to Embassy despatch 894 of May 8,/3/ "In the short run, the basic positions of the Regime on international issues are not subject to much change, but the violence with which they are expressed and promoted might be reduced". Accordingly, we have felt that our best course is to continue constant probing of the U.A.R. on important issues like Cuba and the Congo while fostering personal contacts with Nasser and his senior advisors and continuing modest economic assistance. This policy is designed: (a) to demonstrate U.S. sympathy for the massive challenges of industrialization and over-population facing the U.A.R.; (b) to make clear that the U.A.R. need not rely fully on Communist Bloc assistance; and (c) to develop a U.S. position which will permit timely exploitation of Soviet errors and periodic tensions in U.A.R.-U.S.S.R. relations.

/3/Despatch 894, May 8, is entitled, "Evaluation of the U.S. Aid Program in the United Arab Republic." (Ibid., Central Files, 786B.5-MSP/5-861)

While conveying an impression of modest yet friendly cooperation with President Nasser, this policy has been designed to create uncertainty in Cairo as to our ultimate intentions. Specific requests to Nasser have been avoided which might give him the renewed impression that we need him more than he needs us.

Pursuant to this general posture, the following specific steps have been initiated since March 1:

1. Five letters have been sent from the President to President Nasser, including messages on the Congo, Cuba and the Palestine refugee situation./4/

/4/The Department of State's file of correspondence between President Kennedy and President Nasser (Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 149, Pres. Kennedy-Johnson/UAR Correspondence, 1961-1965) indicates only four letters were sent from President Kennedy to Nasser during this period. These are: March 1 on the Congo; May 3 on Cuba; May 11 on the Palestine refugee situation (see Document 47); and April 17, a letter of introduction for Ambassador Lodge to Nasser.

2. A recommendation has been sent to the President that we consider an official visit here by President Nasser as a means of developing further mutual confidence and contacts./5/

/5/See Document 48.

3. We arranged for the President to have a long and cordial private talk with the U.A.R. Ambassador./6/

/6/See Document 44.

4. On May 27, we concluded a PL-480 supplemental agreement with the U.A.R. covering additional shipments of 200,000 tons of wheat and flour.

5. Former Ambassador Lodge was encouraged to call on President Nasser with personal greetings from the President. Mr. Lodge's call received cordial treatment in the Cairo press and he has asked to see the Secretary on his return to report on his conversation./7/

/7/Documentation relating to Ambassador Lodge's visit to Egypt is in Department of State, Central File 032-Lodge, Henry Cabot. No record of Lodge's subsequent report to Rusk has been found.

6. Ambassador Reinhardt, before his departure, and more recently our Chargé d'Affaires, have made clear to President Nasser and his senior advisors that there is a relationship between continued U.S. aid and U.A.R. attitudes and policies towards the U.S./8/

/8/Reinhardt reported on his final conversation with Nasser in telegram 1558, March 17. (Ibid., 611.86B/3-1761)

In the foregoing terms we are now dealing effectively with President Nasser with modest success. The President's letter on the refugee problem has prompted preliminary favorable comment in Cairo, and it has been indicated that we may receive a constructive reply. This reply and Mr. Lodge's account of his talk with Nasser should give us additional information as to how Nasser currently views U.S.-U.A.R. relations.

President Nasser's reply letter on Cuba was well-received at the White House and the U.A.R. Ambassador has been informed that the President will be sending Nasser another letter following the Vienna meeting. We believe this would afford a most useful opportunity, not only to get our version of the President's talk with Khrushchev to Nasser ahead of the Russian version, but also to set forth how the new administration views the threat which the non-aligned countries actually face in the coming decade. A draft along these lines will be prepared as soon as possible after the President's return from Europe.

Meanwhile, President Nasser has, of course, been active in organizing a "summit meeting" of some non-aligned governments. A preparatory, largely procedural, meeting at the Ambassadorial level will convene in Cairo on June 5 to determine the date, place and agenda for the main conference. Preliminary guidance has already been sent to our field posts and more detailed information is in preparation. Since the June 5 meeting will be largely procedural and the President will be sending another message to President Nasser soon after his return from Europe, we consider that the further Presidential message to Nasser, in advance of the June 5 meeting, might be regarded in Cairo as evidence of undue U.S. nervousness regarding its outcome.

Recent U.S. initiatives have made clear to the U.A.R. our interest in more cordial personal contacts. A U.A.R. request for massive PL-480 wheat assistance in FY-62 is now before us. We conclude that these developments, unless complicated by some unrelated occurrence such as last year's "Cleopatra" picketing case,/9/ will induce Nasser to continue to take a more moderate attitude, both in direct U.S.-U.A.R. relations and in the councils of the uncommitted countries. The more moderate treatment now being accorded the U.S. by U.A.R. propaganda media, and reports from our Embassy regarding the improved atmosphere in U.S.-U.A.R. relations, support this conclusion and indicate that, in our recent and prospective initiatives, we are on the right track provided we do not force the pace.

/9/Reference is to the refusal of the Seafarers International Union in April 1960 to allow the unloading of the UAR flag vessel Cleopatra in New York harbor in retaliation for the UAR boycott of Israel and alleged abusive treatment of union members in Egyptian ports. Documentation is ibid., 811.062.

59. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, June 2, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.13/6-261. Confidential. Drafted by Crawford on June 7.

Discussion with Arab Ambassadors: President Kennedy's May 30 Meeting with Prime Minister David Ben Gurion of Israel

The Diplomatic Representatives of the Near Eastern and North African Arab Countries (see attached list)
NEA--Assistant Secretary Phillips Talbot
NEA--Deputy Assistant Secretary Armin H. Meyer
NEA/NE--Mr. Robert Strong, Director
AF/AFN--Mr. John Root, Deputy Director
IO/UNP--Mr. Stephen Palmer
NEA/NE--Mr. William Crawford

/2/The attached List of Participants includes the following representatives from Arab countries: Ambassador Abdullah Al-Khayyal of Saudi Arabia; Ambassador Ali Haider Sulaiman of Iraq; Ambassador Yusuf Haikal of Jordan; Ambassador Nadim Dimechkié of Lebanon; Ambassador Osman El Hadari of the Sudan, Ambassador Habib Bourguiba, Jr., of Tunisia, Ambassador El-Mehdi Ben Aboud of Morocco, Minister Omar M. Muntasser of Libya, Minister Salah El Abd of the United Arab Republic, and First Secretary Abdelhadi Al-Hamdani of Yemen.

Mr. Talbot thanked the several Ambassadors for being willing to come to the Department together.

Mr. Talbot said he believed the assembled Arab representatives might be interested in his recollections of the May 30 meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York between President Kennedy and Prime Minister Ben Gurion, at which he had been privileged to be present./3/ The meeting had been at Prime Minister Ben Gurion's request. The President had acceded, as he undoubtedly would to the request of any friendly Prime Minister visiting this country unofficially. The President had indicated that he would not be able to see Prime Minister Ben Gurion in Washington but could see him in New York on his way to Europe. The President's meeting with the Prime Minister had no agenda; it provided an occasion to review informally questions of interest to either or to both.

/3/See Document 57.

Mr. Talbot recalled that, as the meeting got underway, the subject of Israel's atomic energy research program came up. The President expressed an interest in the purposes of this program. Prime Minister Ben Gurion gave assurances that it was for peaceful purposes only. He said Israel is concerned about sources of energy, particularly in the light of its serious problem in creating cheap power for the desalinization of water in which it is so interested. After consulting with international authorities, Israel had concluded that by starting intensive research in atomic energy now, it might hope eventually to apply atomic power relatively cheaply to the desalinization of water. The President expressed deep concern that there be no proliferation of atomic weapons since this would constitute a danger to peace; the United States would have to use its weight against such a proliferation. The Prime Minister renewed his assurance, and the President expressed satisfaction.

Mr. Talbot said Prime Minister Ben Gurion then expressed concern regarding the added tension in the Middle East which could result from the build-up of arms in the area. The Prime Minister remarked that some countries in the Middle East are receiving arms from "the other side". In reply, the President said very forcefully that disputes within the area should be resolved by peaceful means. He remarked that the United States does not wish to become involved in an arms build-up in the area.

Mr. Talbot stated that the President next told Prime Minister Ben Gurion that the United States is committed to the United Nations resolutions on the Palestine refugees, and that the United States will support efforts of the Palestine Conciliation Commission in preparation for the latter's required report to the 16th General Assembly session.

Mr. Talbot remarked that some of those present might have seen an article in the New York Times/4/ reporting Prime Minister Ben Gurion's interpretation of his conversation with President Kennedy on the question of refugees. Or perhaps those present might have learned of the Department's reply later in the day in response to a newsman's question. The text of the Department's reply had been as follows:

/4/The article appeared on June 2. Circular telegram 1927, June 2, described the relevant portions of the article as follows: "Ben Gurion is quoted as having 'large measure of agreement' with President Kennedy on Arab refugee problem. At departure interview, Ben Gurion said he had found 'understanding' on nettling issue of refugees adding that 'in no way was I disappointed.' Ben Gurion was quoted as saying President had offered 'a suggestion that might be a solution.' Ben Gurion added he did not know whether 'this' would be acceptable to Arabs but if it was acceptable 'it would be a solution.' Article describes President's 'suggestion' as 'simultaneous repatriation and resettlement of the refugees.'" The telegram also sent the text of the U.S. response. (Department of State, Central Files, 784A.13/6-261)

"On May 9 the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine issued a communiqué reporting that it had met that day to consider steps which could usefully be taken in the fulfillment of its responsibilities pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 1604 (XV) of April 21, 1961, and relevant previous resolutions. These resolutions envisage the resolution of the Palestine refugee problem through repatriation or compensation. The United States Government has consistently supported these resolutions and will fully support moves made by the Commission in accordance with them.

"In their brief, informal meeting in New York, the President raised with Prime Minister Ben Gurion the subject of the tragic plight of the Arab refugees and stressed the importance of Israel's cooperating with such efforts as may be initiated by the U.N. Palestine Conciliation Commission. Since the Commission's endeavors have not as yet taken precise form and since in any case the responsibility lies with the parties directly concerned as they may be assisted by the United Nations Commission, the question of an understanding between the President and the Prime Minister as to a specific solution did not arise."/5/

/5/Text of New York Times article is attached. [Footnote in the source text.]

Mr. Talbot said that this statement by the Department accorded with his recollection of what transpired during the meeting. (At the request of the assembled representatives, copies of the Department's statement were given to them.)

Mr. Talbot said that, concluding his conversation with Prime Minister Ben Gurion, President Kennedy had reiterated that the United States is very much concerned with the welfare of all the Middle Eastern states; that this concern is the firm basis of United States policy. Mr. Talbot said that at the end of the conversation there had been some talk of a book presented to the President by the Prime Minister. The President had said he was very glad to have this gift, that in London he was going to the christening of a descendant of the author of the book, and hoped Prime Minister Ben Gurion would agree to its being given to the child. The Prime Minister had assented.

The conversation between the President and the Prime Minister had begun at 4:45 p.m., immediately after the President's arrival in New York, and had ended about 6:10, when the President left to dress for a speech at a cancer fund dinner.

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador said the press had reported that Prime Minister Ben Gurion had raised with the President Israel's hope of obtaining from the United States and the Soviet Union a guarantee of its borders. Mr. Talbot replied that he did not know the origins of this report. Except for Mr. Salinger, whose remarks following the President's meeting had been reported in the press, no one on the United States side had talked to the press about the meeting. Therefore, these comments must either have been manufactured or come from other sources. It was true that in referring to his fears of an arms build-up in the Middle East Prime Minister Ben Gurion might have implied a suggestion of what the Saudi Arabian Ambassador had in mind. However, the President had not taken this up or suggested in any way that this could be a basis for action by the United States.

The Ambassador of Iraq inquired as to Ben Gurion's statement to the New York Times implying that he had agreed with President Kennedy on a possible solution of the refugee problem. Mr. Talbot replied that, as indicated by the Department's statement, the President had referred to U.N. resolutions regarding the refugees and had expressed the hope that Israel would cooperate in any effort undertaken by the PCC in response to these resolutions. The Ambassador of Iraq asked whether Prime Minister Ben Gurion had agreed with the President. Mr. Talbot replied that, from what he remembered, and with reference to the PCC, the Prime Minister had said, "It's worth a try." Mr. Talbot said he could inform those present in great confidence that the Department hopes that in activating the PCC, United Nations Secretary-General Hammarskjold will find someone from a neutral country to make a survey of the refugee situation as a basis for a PCC report to the UNGA.

The Iraqi Ambassador asked if President Kennedy had been satisfied with Ben Gurion's assurances regarding Israel's atomic reactor. Mr. Talbot said the President had expressed his satisfaction with these assurances.

The Lebanese Ambassador asked if the United States intends to make clear publicly its support of U.N. resolutions regarding the Arab refugees. Mr. Talbot replied that, as Ambassador Dimechkie is aware, the Department uses the vehicle of a statement to the press, such as that by Mr. White earlier in the day, to make its policies known to the public.

The Iraqi Ambassador asked whether, in connection with his expressed apprehension over an arms build-up in the Middle East, Prime Minister Ben Gurion had sought arms assistance from the United States. Mr. Talbot commented that he had recalled earlier in the meeting as accurately as he could exactly what had been said during the President's meeting. While Prime Minister Ben Gurion's actual statements had dealt with Israel's fears, he had perhaps implied something more. Perhaps the Prime Minister might have pursued these inferences at the meeting which had been scheduled with Secretary Rusk for May 31. However, other unrelated developments had obliged the Secretary to cancel this meeting.

The Iraqi Ambassador asked whether this particular question of arms assistance had been pursued by Prime Minister Ben Gurion with Ambassador Stevenson. Mr. Talbot replied that the Department had not yet received a report of that conversation./6/

/6/See Document 60.

The Ambassador of Lebanon asked whether it could be understood that neither arms nor a border guarantee had been discussed seriously between the President and Ben Gurion. Mr. Talbot replied that he thought it very clear from his earlier comments that the President had made no response to several things hinted at by Ben Gurion. Certainly, it was fully clear that Ben Gurion had left without any U.S. involvement in these matters.

The Sudanese Ambassador asked whether Prime Minister Ben Gurion had discussed the reasons for secrecy regarding Israel's second reactor. Mr. Talbot replied that he had not. It was the President who had raised the question of Israel's atomic research programs, and he had done so not in terms of history but in terms of the present and of future intentions. Prime Minister Ben Gurion's assurance on peaceful uses was firm.

The UAR Chargé asked whether so-called restrictions on Suez Canal transit had been discussed. Mr. Talbot replied that they had not.

The Ambassador of Lebanon said the press had implied that Ben Gurion wanted the President to take up Middle East questions with the USSR, seeking some sort of agreement to keep the Middle East out of the cold war. Was there such discussion? Mr. Talbot replied that, as he had suggested before, the Prime Minister had tended to imply something of this sort. The President did not encourage him in this line.

The Ambassador of Lebanon said that in both the present instance and in the case of the meeting with President Eisenhower last year the Israel Prime Minister had seen the American President just before the latter was to meet with Khrushchev. Mr. Talbot replied that he could not speculate on Prime Minister Ben Gurion's motives in timing his visit as he had. He had asked to come. While President Kennedy already knew he was going to Europe, to the best of his (Mr. Talbot's) knowledge the President did not know that he would be seeing Khrushchev at the time Ben Gurion's visit had first been discussed.

The UAR Chargé asked if the question of Algeria had been discussed. Mr. Talbot said it had not.

The UAR Chargé asked whether Prime Minister Ben Gurion had spoken to Mr. Kennedy of the results of his visit to Canada. Mr. Talbot replied that if Prime Minister Ben Gurion had made any reference to his Canada visit, it had only been to preface certain of his remarks to the President with, "As I said in Canada".

60. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State

New York, June 2, 1961, 6 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884.411/6-261. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution.

3238. Palestine refugees. Stevenson talked with Ben Gurion June 1. Stevenson made emphatic representation that US feels Israel should accept repatriation of Arab refugees and feels it unrealistic expect Arabs accept resettlement as only solution. He further enlarged on possibility of practical phased program, with balanced repatriation, resettlement and compensation, which would not endanger Israel's security.

Ben Gurion expressed equally emphatic disagreement and said that with repatriation Nasser will send his army into Israel behind refugees; refugees would repatriate only with support of Egyptian army. He further expressed view Arabs will not accept three points of emigration, repatriation and resettlement. He also rejected view that once psychological barrier represented by acceptance, i.e. principle of repatriation, broken, it would not take place in large numbers, and resettlement in Arab and non-Arab lands would follow.

He added Jordan and Lebanon ready live in peace with Israel now, but Egypt called the turn in ME and Nasser ambitions win all of Arab world could only be accomplished by destroying Israel.

Ben Gurion repeated familiar position that only by peace settlement can repatriation and resettlement be achieved.

He added prospects for peace would be increased if Kennedy and Khrushchev would guarantee all of ME boundaries, and that ultimately peace will follow if Israel continues its effective work in non-Arab countries. Egypt will have make peace to maintain its position in such countries.

Teddy Kollek pointed out repatriation problem now centered in 250,000 refugees in Gaza Strip who had no other hope. He added Ben Gurion more open minded than on arrival (presume he meant willingness cooperate with PCC).

Ambassador Comay asked Stevenson for opportunity discuss possibilities of repatriation and resettlement further on Stevenson's return from LA. Stevenson had feeling he and Kollek, at least, were impressed with difficulties in Congress and changing attitude in this country./2/

/2/On June 13, USUN reported that, in a recent conversation, Israeli diplomat Arad had told U.S. officials that Israel had noted the marked difference between what President Kennedy had said to Ben Gurion about the Palestinian refugees and what Ambassador Stevenson had said. The U.S. officials responded that the two conversations were complementary and reflected an identical policy. If Secretary Rusk had been able to meet with Ben Gurion, he would have repeated the same points made by Stevenson. Arad maintained that Ben Gurion had agreed with the President to seek a solution based on "repatriation, compensation, and resettlement," but Stevenson had gone beyond this and said that Israel should now make a public declaration accepting the principle of repatriation. (Telegram 3312 from USUN; ibid., 884.411/6-1361)


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

Washington, June 3, 1961, 6:42 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/6-361. Secret. Drafted by Bowling; cleared in draft by Grantham, Martin, and Baxter; and approved by Talbot who initialed for Bowles.

1304. In final audience with Shah before your departure/2/ convey following points as official view USG:

/2/Ambassador Wailes left Tehran on June 9.

(a) Principal danger independence and integrity of Iran flows from pressures Mosadeq partisans and their allies on government. Factors promoting this political disunity deepseated and possibly inevitable, but facts of current situation demand urgent attention.

(b) USG pleased Shah has appointed Ali Amini as Prime Minister. Amini represents real opportunity to create new political and psychological framework based on clear appreciation political and economic realities. USG hopes and expects Shah will continue extend full support PriMin in overcoming difficulties which confront GOI.

(c) USG feels events past six months have demonstrated Shah should avoid public responsibility for governmental decisions, and USG congratulates Shah for recent steps designed restore his position and that of monarchy to situation wherein inevitable popular grumbling of society in transition will not be directed against monarchy which is core national stability.

(d) USG convinced that internal political conditions Iran severely limit further expansion size or expenditures Iran armed forces, and that such expansion at this time would intensify principal current threat Iranian integrity, which is political disunity. Size and cost of military establishments have become a target non-communist internal dissidents. Accordingly USG is deferring for time being consideration any projects involving major advances size or equipment level Iranian armed forces, or any radical increases in level of equipment for existing units, whose proficiency USG confidently expects to continue to improve with such modest equipment modernization as appears desirable and feasible from time to time.

(e) USG remains deeply concerned integrity and stability Iran and intends do its best assist GOI in its efforts overcome difficulties which now beset it, as PriMin has been informed. USG is confident GOI will be successful this endeavor, and looks forward to further cooperation with GOI in long-range social and economic development.

FYI. Dept realizes difficulty and danger involved in conveying these home truths to Shah. In view excellent personal relationship you have established with Shah, Dept confident your ability accomplish this difficult task. End FYI.


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

Tehran, June 6, 1961, 6 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/6-661. Secret. Received at 2:41 p.m.

1471. During two-hour audience with Shah this morning, most of time was taken up with substance Deptel 1304./2/ In view of my early departure and to insure no misunderstanding, I took with me full contents of paragraphs a through e changing only word "expects" in para b to "assumes" as I felt former might create sufficient displeasure to prevent his paying attention to balance of message. Offered to read message to Shah but he preferred read it himself which he did several times with great care and seriousness. At conclusion he asked we transmit to Washington following views on which I made notes with his permission:

/2/ Document 61.

(A) I (the Shah) agree except I believe pressure actually comes from Communists with Mosadeq partisans and allies being largely willing dupes. To give way in the slightest to any one of these groups would be the end of Iran and I would leave rather than do so.

(B) I backed Amini as PriMin as I feel he is a strong and courageous man who has shown his complete patriotism in many ways; for example, oil negotiations and backing CENTO.

(C) Again I agree but must point out that it would be most dangerous to let army get involved in politics or politics involved in army. With army loyal to me and under my direction, I was able to dissolve Majlis twice recently and to make necessary changes in the government. If army were subservient to Cabinet or Majlis, this would have been impossible. Army will remain under my personal control and Amini appreciates situation and has no desire to have it otherwise.

(D) I cannot entirely agree that internal political conditions have direct relationship to size of expenditures of army. This is true if the expenditures are at expense of such public programs as health, education and welfare. It is not true if assistance for military increments comes from U.S. Everything, therefore, depends on U.S. aid and I cannot spend more for the military from our budget than I am now doing. If your current year's help is less than $28 million, there will have to be a cut in the armed forces. Only way to effectively offset a cut is in modernization of equipment. Likewise, if there is a cut in U.S. aid, why is Iran the only ally getting so little attention militarily. All I need is modernization and a moderate sized army to stop the possibility of local wars. Egypt, for example, spends $400 million on its army in addition to military equipment. Iraq has received $500 million in equipment from the U.S. and spends annually $100 million on armed forces which on the basis of populations would mean $400 million for Iran. Because of the bilateral in CENTO, we can obviously afford to get along with less. While there is room for discussion on size of army, I must urge, if Iran is to help protect itself, we must receive modern military equipment.

(E) I greatly appreciate interest shown and help being given by U.S. I must make it quite clear that if Iran is to remain free and if I am to remain in Iran, it will not be possible if the Tudeh party or fringe groups or connections come into control. We will continue for some time to need your backing against any such contingency.


Shah was calm and serious during our conversation and I felt had little to criticize in "home truths" presented to him with exception of paragraph D relating to army. In discussing this year's military assistance I said I still couldn't give him figure but I had no reason to think it would be as much as $28 million. I added, however, that I believed everything was being done to get this money to him promptly and that this in itself would be a major benefit even if the amount were smaller.

At no time during the conversation was there the slightest indication that Amini was other than his personal choice and a person in whom he had confidence and to whom he was prepared to give his full backing as long as the Amini government followed the line of close alliance with the West, no compromise with the Soviet Union, and was prepared to do the best job in promoting stability and economic progress in Iran.


63. Memorandum From the President's Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Rostow) to the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (McGhee)

Washington, June 6, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, NEA/NE Files: Lot 66 D 308, UAR, 1961, United States. Secret.

I have read carefully the memorandum you forwarded from NEA on prospects for dealing with Nasser./2/ I understand very well that in working with Nasser, we are now working within narrow limits; and I did not have in mind that there was any possibility of getting Nasser to look at the world with Washington's eyes on the many specific matters in which we are at cross-purposes.

/2/Document 58.

Nevertheless, my impression is that the tone of that memorandum may be over-cautious; and its suggested courses of action may lead to our missing some opportunities.

Specifically, I sense from current intelligence that Nasser is worried about three things: Syria; his economic position in general; and his over-commitment to Moscow economically, which is leading Moscow to exert on him quite severe and overt political pressure. We can help him to a degree on all three fronts.

I conclude that it would be worth exploring with him the possibility of substantially expanded long-term economic arrangements within the framework of his plan and our foreign aid program--quite apart from the P.L. 480 business now in hand. The quid pro quo for which I would look is not an "improved atmosphere in U.S.-UAR relations." I am very skeptical of bargaining economic aid directly for such short-run atmospherics. The objective of getting closer to him on a long-run economic basis, as I see it, would be to strengthen the foundations for his independence and to build up a whole range of more intimate human contacts with his people. Our experience with India has indicated, for example, that one is likely to accumulate more short-run political benefits from this kind of approach--which does not explicitly tie aid to diplomatic positions--than from trying to balance at every stage along the way. I would hope, for example, that without much explicit bargaining we could expect over a period of time to temper Nasser's activities a bit in Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, etc., if he were to go with us on long-run development on an enlarged scale.

Moreover, if we decided, in the wake of Vienna, to reply to Nasser's last long letter, we may wish to say some things about our view of neutralism and non-alignment that bear on the forthcoming conference. The subject matter of Nasser's letter--which I found interesting--gives a good opening.

As you know, I do not regard myself as a Middle East expert. My only firm conclusion is that we want a paper that argues some of the issues beyond the present memo./3/

/3/A brief June 7 note from McGhee to Talbot, attached to the source text, reads: "Rostow remains unconvinced. Why don't you make an appointment and talk with him about this?" A June 19 memorandum from Strong to Talbot indicates that Rostow, Rusk, and Talbot discussed the status of U.S. efforts to take full advantage of current opportunities in U.S.-UAR relations on June 10. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/6-1961) No memorandum of this conversation has been found. The June 19 memorandum from Strong to Talbot also describes 10 different areas of U.S. efforts to improve relations with the United Arab Republic. For text, see Supplement, the compilation on the United Arab Republic.

64. Editorial Note

On June 7, 1961, Senator J. William Fulbright, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reviewed with Ambassador Kamel several items relating to U.S.-UAR relations. Kamel mentioned, among other points, that it would help improve relations if P.L. 480 assistance to his country were put on a multi-year basis. A member of Fulbright's staff subsequently read the memorandum of this conversation over the telephone to someone in Rostow's office at the White House. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, United Arab Republic, 1/61-6/61)

On June 8, Rostow mentioned the Fulbright-Kamel conversation during a telephone conversation with Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Ball and added, according to notes of the conversation: "the President is anxious to get closer to this fellow." Rostow continued that the "White House thought there was a possibility in the long term PL 480 for initiating and maintaining closer working relations with the UAR." Ball responded that he liked the idea; and Rostow said that he would contact George McGovern, Director of Food for Peace, about it. (Ibid., Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, United Arab Republic)

On June 9, Komer apparently sent to Rostow Bowles' May 16 memorandum to Kennedy regarding a possible Nasser visit to the United States (Document 48) under cover of the following note:

"In the light of Nasser's apparent growing differences with Moscow, his continued economic difficulties especially in Syria, and in view of the Ben Gurion visit, time might now be ripe for you or Mac to take up this question with the President. I think the case for a Nasser visit is strong even if nothing concrete came of it. As a very important wheel in the Arab and neutralist world, he too should get the Kennedy treatment.

"However, I see no reason in waiting until Spring 1962 if we are to start things rolling. We don't want to jump quickly lest it be too obvious we are reacting to Moscow-Cairo differences; on the other hand, if he wants to explore a limited accommodation, a visit should come early in the process. Moreover, Nasser's knowledge that we plan to invite him might make him less obstreperous at the September neutralist confab. Ergo, why not buck attached to President with positive endorsement now. In particular it may be worthwhile to urge course 3 (see Page 3)." (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Staff Memoranda, Robert Komer)

The same day Bundy forwarded to President Kennedy the May 16 Bowles memorandum and the memorandum of the Fulbright-Kamel conversation under cover of a note that reads in part:

"As you know, things are moving a little better between Nasser and us. The attached suggestion from the Department of State makes sense so long as we are reasonably sure that we could mount a Nasser visit without disruptive action by the Zionists. My hunch is that this should be wholly possible; but you might want to see the judgment of others." (Ibid., Country Series, United Arab Republic, 1/61-6/61)

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

Washington, June 15, 1961, 9:13 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11-RU/6-1561. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Brewer (NEA/NE) on June 14; cleared by Strong, Talbot, Furnas (S/AE) in draft, Navez (S/S), and Swank (S) in draft; and approved by Talbot who initialed for Rusk. Repeated to Vienna.

2121. Vienna for Farley. Verbatim text. Charge requested convey following personal message from Secretary to FonMin Fawzi on June 17 or as soon thereafter as possible:/2/

/2/In addition to this message to the United Arab Republic, on June 17, the Department of State instructed Near Eastern posts to inform host governments of the results of the scientists' visit to the Dimona reactor. (Circular telegram 2047, June 17; ibid., 884A.1901/6-1761) The telegram has not been found in Department of State files, but it is summarized in a "Chronology of Israel Assurances of Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy and Related Events," March 18, 1964. (Ibid., AE 6 ISR)


"Ever since assuming the duties of Secretary of State, I have wanted to send you a personal note to tell you how much I look forward to working with you again in my new capacity. You know better than I the burdens of a Foreign Minister and will therefore understand why this pleasure has been deferred until now.

"While the Near East area has been relatively tranquil in recent months, I have been aware since my appointment of Arab concern regarding reports in the last few months of Israel's atomic development plans. As Your Excellency knows, the United States Government has steadfastly opposed any proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. Accordingly, when your Ambassador called on me on February 7,/3/ I assured him that the United States Government had welcomed public Israeli statements that their new reactor is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes. I stressed that we intended to continue our vigilance and opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons capacity with respect to Israel as well as other countries.

/3/See Document 9.

"Pursuant to this basic intention, the United States Government recently arranged for two highly-qualified American scientists to visit the Israeli reactor site at Dimona. These experts have now furnished us their views. They state that the Dimona project is designed to provide Israel with a research reactor to give scientific and technical personnel experience in the problems posed by a power reactor. In common with many other states, the Israelis are short of power and regard this project as an essential first step toward meeting their industrial requirements. While the reactor will produce small quantities of plutonium, as do others of comparable size and character, our experts found no evidence that the Israelis have weapons production in mind. I am therefore happy to renew to you the personal assurance I furnished to your Ambassador that we believe this reactor is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

"During their recent meeting in New York President Kennedy stressed to Premier Ben Gurion the continuing concern of the United States regarding proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. Mr. Ben Gurion assured the President that the reactor's only purpose is to develop a cheap source of industrial power and that weapons production was not contemplated. Your Excellency may rest assured that, in accordance with our firm policy in this field, the United States Government will maintain its vigilance.

"I understand that the United Arab Republic Government is itself giving active study to the industrial power possibilities of atomic energy. Your representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency recently approached us in Vienna regarding possible United States assistance in this field. We shall instruct our mission there to seek further details from your representatives.

"In view of the sensitive nature of this subject, we are taking particular care in making known the results of the investigation of the Dimona reactor by American experts. Given the immediate concern of the United Arab Republic with the reactor we have wanted to give your Government this information first. I recognize, of course, that you will no doubt wish to apprise President Nasser and other senior officials of your Government regarding the contents of this message. I am pleased that this first occasion for renewing communication between us has given me an opportunity to furnish what I trust will be welcome news.

"With best regards and respects, Sincerely, Dean Rusk"


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