92 Cablegram from Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Washington, 15 June 1967

2534. Secret


We asked Kranich (ACDA) whether he thought that the Middle East crisis had affected the attitude of the Soviet negotiators on the non-proliferation treaty.1 Kranich thought that this could have been the case. He felt that the Russians realised that in a sense military victories made Israel less secure in the long run and that, though Israel might win yet another war with the Arabs, it did not follow that it would continue to win indefinitely-especially if the Arabs learned to catch the Israeli Air Force on the ground. The Russians might therefore have felt that Israel would realise this and seek to develop a nuclear weapon to protect itself from the Arab states. A demand could then arise from the Arabs for nuclear weapons-a demand that might be put to the Russians in their dismay, but taken up by the Communist Chinese at some time in the future. It seemed a safe assumption to say that the USSR would not relish Arab-Israeli confrontations at the nuclear level and that it therefore wished to foreclose this possibility.

2. We asked about Israeli nuclear intentions.2 Kranich said that he understood that a number of countries (Sweden, India, Israel) were in a position, where preparatory work already undertaken could be diverted and then extended to create a nuclear weapon. This was only to say that this option existed. It was not to say that it was in the process of being exercised. Kranich said that he had seen nothing to show that Israel had developed or was in the process of specifically developing a nuclear weapon. Moreover, the U.S. had previously told Israel that the U.S. would take a serious view of any acquisition or development of nuclear weapons by Israel.

[NAA: A1838, TS681/6 part 6]