Kissinger on the Israeli nukes

U.S. government archives from 1969 currently being declassified and made available to the public show that back in 1969 Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, (1) knew that Israeli had nuclear weapons, contrary to public avowals of no such knowledge, and (2) helped to design and implement a policy whereby Israel’s connivance in a scheme to keep its nuclear arsenal hidden would be rewarded by the US giving them additional, very potent, non-nuclear weapons.
Kudos to the NYT’s David Stout who has been scouring the newly released documents and writing about their revelations, e.g. here. I have long argued, e.g. in this 1988 (long PDF) article here, that successive Israeli governments have used their thinly veiled possession of a powerful nuclear arsenal as much to blackmail the US as for any other purposes. For example, one of the Kissinger quotes Stout has from 1969 is that, “The Israelis, who are one of the few peoples whose survival is genuinely threatened, are probably more likely than almost any other country to actually use their nuclear weapons.” I actually doubt that, under most scenarios. After all, what would happen to Israel itself if they did use them?
Maybe Kissinger actually the Israelis would be crazy enough to use ’em, or maybe he only wrote that to Nixon, to scare him into going along with the conventional-arms transfer scheme. (Kissinger was also, in his role as a US strategist as opposed to merely an Israeli flak, known to use the idea of trying to make opponents think the US would be crazy enough to use its nukes or do other irrational things, as a way of scaring them into undertaking actions of appeasement.)
No time to write more now. Stout’s piece has some good links to the actual documents which will certainly be worth following up.
Of course, this whole “revelation” of a matter that has in fact been public knowledge for decades now– that Israel was indeed the first nuclear-weapons state in the Middle east and so far remains the only one– could be seen as coming at a bit of an awkward time for the Bushites, as they continue to try to crank up opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, which is still nowhere near producing any nuclear weapons at all even if (which is as yet unproven) that is where the Iranians are heading.

2 thoughts on “Kissinger on the Israeli nukes

  1. Alex

    “The Israelis, who are one of the few peoples whose survival is genuinely threatened, are probably more likely than almost any other country to actually use their nuclear weapons.” I actually doubt that, under most scenarios.
    Back then, I remember thinking precisely as Kissinger, that Israel would be the first post-WW2 state to use nuclear weapons. My thought then was that Israel would not for a moment hesitate, if it felt threatened, and that it cared not at all about the survival of the surrounding human beings.
    The question is, what has changed since then?
    My first thought is that the US has recently showed itself to have similar attitudes to Israel, so now the US is in roughly equal first place with Israel.

  2. Patricia Wilson

    Of Course Israel has had nuclear weapons for quite some time. How were they able to knock out Hussein’s small plant supposedly beginning WMD’s–esp nuclear, since he had the other kinds from previous rulers. Israel would rather someone in the West-like USA-would hit Iran–with or without nuclear weapons. Then, they have less of a chance to be hit back. The rockets Iran has now and were shown after NIE claimed Iran had had no nuclear weapons planned since 2003 will go just through the area of Israel. But why would Iran wish to disrupt Muslims in Jerusalem or the Palestinian lands?? It’s all Islam despite they are Shia and the others are Sunni. The mosques are holy for both. No one looks any further than off the ends of their noses and then wonder why many things said are propaganda for home not for international consumption. Yes, each needs to keep watch but using diplomacy and showing respect to those you don’t necessarily like goes a L O N G way.

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