CONSEQUENCES OF ISRAELI ACQUISITION OF NUCLEAR CAPABILITY* (W/ATTACHMENT)

Created: 3/6/1963

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CENTRAL

C? NATIONAL ESTIMATES

63

KEMORAHEUM FOR THE DIRECTOR

SUBJECT: Consequences of Israeli Acquisition of Nuclear Capability*

SUMMARY.

Tbe most general consequence would be substantial damage to the US and Western position in tbe Arab vorld. However much the US expressed disapproval of Israel's achievement, it vould be difficult to avoid aa increased tendency for the politicalin tba Middle East to take the form of the Bloc and the Arabs against Isrcel and Its friends in tbe West.

Al'PROVED POR RELEASE DATE: 2

For purposes of this Memorandum, Israeli "acquisitionuclear capability" nay moan either (a) Israeli detonationuclear device, with or without the possession of actual nuclear weapons, or (b) an announcement by Israel tbat It possessed nuclear weapons even though It had notuclear device. (It la conceivable that Israel mighteapoo according to acquired designs, without testing, through Its access to nuclear technology in the International scientific ceomunity and possibly Its special relationship with the French.)

Even though Israel alreadylear nilitary euperlorlty over its Arab adversaries, singly oruclear capability vould greatly enhance Israel's sense. In thia circumstance, acne Israelis night be inclined tooderate and conciliatory posture in order to alloy as for os possible the vorld-vido cooccrafrom the furtherof nuclear weapons. ew night even hope toettlement of the long controversy vlth the Arabs, by cegotinting negnaninously fron their nev position of strength.

Vs believe it mush nare likely, however, tbat Israel's policy toward its coighbaro vould beccae core rather than less tough. Tills Is not to soy that Israel vould forthwith stake war

on tbe Arabs; ve think this extremely unlikely. It would, however, seek to exploit the psychological adrantegcu of its nuclearto intimidate the Arabs end to prevent then fxon making trouble on the frontiers. It vould probably feel freer than it does nov to take vigorous retaliatory action against border horojaccntB when they did occur. And It would probably nohe prcpogonda underlining the Impotence of tbe principal Arab govormeata in the face of Israeli power, end vould thereby seek

to compound Arab frustrations and to promote ctteunity ln the Arab world.

3. In dealing with the us, Israel vould make tha must of tbe almost inert table Arab tendency to look to the Bloc for ssaistance against tbe added Israeli threat, arguing that ln terms of both strength and reliability larael clearly vas the only worthwhile friend of the US in the area. It vould usa all tbe means at its command to persuade the US to acquleeoe In, and even to support, its possession of nuclear capability. Israel could be expected to use the argument that thisentitled lt to participate ln all international negotiations respecting nuclear questions and dlemrmsment.

Reaction of the Arabs

Arab reaction to tbe revelation of an Israeli nuclear capability vould be one of profound dismay and frustration. Responsible Arab leaders might appreciate tha political factors tbat vould work aaminet actual Israeli use of its nuclear veapons, but such considerations would not greatly lmpreos even tbe more sophisticated, and ln most circles vould mean nothing at all. There vould probablyeriod of highly amotions! outbursts --

of lnflasemtory speeches and vr!tings, local disturbances, riota and acta of violence directed against the real or presumed friends aad acceseorlea of Israel, and attempts to bring about sons sort of international action tending to redrese the The Arabs are united in their hatred of Israel, and vouldoaaon fear of any Israeli nuclear capability, we do not believe, however, that they vould prove able to act in any aore unified or coordinated fashion than in the past.

5. Among the principal targets of Arab resentment vould be the OB. At present many Arab governments consider the US as the one power vhlch could, if lt chose, prevent tbeof aa Israeli nuclear capability; thla consideration probably plavs scsas part In formlcs; Arab attitudes and policies toward tha US. Once the Israeli nuclear capabilityew Arab leaders might still argue that since the US could restrain Israel from using the weapons lt therefore ought not to be antagonised. But ve think that this counsel vould be farby feelings of resentment and betrayal. In view of post US statements end positions, charges of US octtpliolty in tho Israeli achievement vould be videly made and widely believed in the Arab world. Tho antl-US sentinunts implicit in certain Arab

notionalist doctrines vould be strengthened. US influence vlth the Arabs, limited ot best, vould bo drastically reduced.

It la possible, though we do not think it very likely, tbat Arab resentment against tbe US vould lead to the confiscation of important US properties in the area, or to their destruction hy local acts of violence. Arab leaders would probably be against such acta for economic reasons, and vould probably be able to prevent; them. It might be, however, tbat tbe intensity of public demand for 6ome considerable retaliatory action vould be so great that the leaders could not overrule it. Many Arabs vould not stop to inquire vhether the opportunities forwhich presented thenaelveo were likely to be profitable.

Yet vlth all this outcry the Arabs would be basically frustrated, jfo really satisfactory course of action would be open to them to counter the Israeli achievement. Nasser might be tempted to strike at Dimona, but vould probably be deterred by the fear that Israeli retaliation would destroy him before international peace-keeping oachinery could intervene to suppress the conflict. The nationalist loodoro would doubtless try to workigh degree of international pressure to restrain Israel from

sggxeosive actios. They would probably attempt to persuade tbe great powers to force Israel to submit Its nuclear capability to Internationaln attempt which would almost certainly be unsuccessful, nasscr would contemplate, and might embarkuclear weapons program of his own, with what technical help he could beg or hire from abroad; but this would at bestengthy aad expensive enterprise, highly provocative to Israel. The principal advantage ln tha abort term vould be to give lauser something to make speeches about. In bis efforts to restore Aiab morale, Causer might claim to have nonnuclear weapons of mass destructionchemical or biologicaland sight even make an sffort to develop acme capability along these Hoes.

8* "the obvious recourse of the flutw vould be to turn to the Bloc for assistance or assurance against the new Israeli threat. Ve think it virtually certain that Nasser and other Arab Eationcllata vculd take this course, yet It would bo distasteful and unsatisfactory to thorn. On tbe one hand, tbey would beof ccnpromiolnK their independence or tbeir neutrality by aurmltting themselves too much to the Soviets; oa the other, for reasons set forth In the next section, tbey vould elmoat osrtmlnly be disappointed in the response which the Sovietsc.

pressures for Bloc help vouldumberto the Soviets, together with some problems. not believe that tbeould be willing to providewith nuclear weapons, if only because of theof extending to such regimes what it is unwilling toits own ootellites. We doubt also that tho USSR would giveany substantial assistance in developing nuclear weapons

of their own; tbe Soviets would almost certainly prefer to exploit the situation to increase Arab dependence on them, rather than to create an independent Arab nuclear capability.

is conceivable that the Soviets might placeon Arab territory, retaining them under Sovietmight involve no moreew bombs which could beEgyptian aircraft, but ve think that tbe Soviets vould seennd no particular advantagerogram of this scale. might go so for as tbe establishment of rale silo bases, withSoviet military presence. ourse we believe

to be extremely unlikely, both because it would offer no particular military advantage to the Soviets, and because the Arabs themselves would almost certainly not wont foreign bases in their territory, even in the circumstances postulated.

IX. The Soviets vould, however, see plenty of opportunity for winning political adventago. According to their habit, they vould seek to please the Arabsunding declarations of sympathy and support, and vlth dire threats against Israel or any other power that might dare to use military force against an Arab state. Esperlence from tha time of the Suez affair suggests that these csnlfcatctiocs would indeed win friends end influenoe in the Arab world. If tbe Israelis refrained from attacking the Arabs with major nilitary farce (as we believe tbsyhe Soviets eight even persuade Bony Arabs that they had in fact beenfrom destruction solely by the exorcise of Soviet power. In such fashlco, without Involving themselves in dangerousthe Soviets would substantially enhance their influence and position throughout the Kiddle East, and perhaps find tbe basisirmer Bloe-Arab alignment against the West than they hove so far been able to achieve.

SHQWAN KHfT Chairmen

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FCft THE BOARD OP KATKKAL ZCTTJfATES:

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