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Paz Marverde

3 POTUS and the Israeli nuclear arsenal

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https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-trump-and-three-other-us-presidents-protected-israels-worst-kept-secret-its-nuclear-arsenal

How Trump and Three Other U.S. Presidents Protected Israel’s Worst-Kept Secret: Its Nuclear Arsenal

When a delegation of senior Israeli officials visited the Trump White House on February 13, 2017, they wanted to discuss several issues with their new American counterparts. Topping the list was a secret letter concerning a subject the Israelis had promised the Americans never to discuss publicly—Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal. In a recent piece for The New Yorker, I described a tense scene in the West Wing as the Israeli delegation—which included Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer—tried to get the letter signed by President Donald Trump. By all accounts, the American Administration was eager to please the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Trump had promised to lavish with unprecedented support. But, at that chaotic moment, Trump’s aides felt blindsided by the Israeli request. They knew nothing about the existence of any letters and were confused by the sense of urgency coming from the Israelis. The Americans had other pressing concerns—later that day, Michael Flynn, the national-security adviser, would hand in his resignation letter—and they didn’t appreciate feeling as though the Israelis were telling them what to do. “This is our xxxxin’ house," one of the Americans snapped.

The White House’s reaction was understandable. There had been a similar moment of surprise eight years earlier, when Barack Obama became President and received a similar request. The very existence of the letters had been a closely held secret. Only a select group of senior American officials, in three previous Administrations, knew of the letters and how Israeli leaders interpreted them as effectively an American pledge not to press the Jewish state to give up its nuclear weapons so long as it continued to face existential threats in the region. (American officials say the letters weren’t that explicit and fell short of constituting a binding commitment.) When Trump’s aides moved into the White House, they didn’t find any copies of the previous letters left behind by their predecessors. The documents had been sent to the archives. The Israelis, however, had copies.

Israel crossed the nuclear threshold on the eve of the Six Day War, in 1967. At that time, it had three nuclear devices, according to Avner Cohen, a nuclear historian at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the author of two books on the origins of Israel’s nuclear program. Israeli efforts to build a bomb at the nuclear complex in Dimona had been a source of tension with Washington for nearly a decade. But, by the fall of 1969, when Golda Meir, Israel’s Prime Minister, met with Richard Nixon at the White House, Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons was a fait accompli and the two sides reached an unwritten understanding: the Israelis would not declare, test, or threaten to use their nuclear weapons; and the Americans would not pressure the Israelis to sign a landmark international nuclear-nonproliferation treaty known as the N.P.T. (Israel never became a signatory and U.S. efforts to inspect Dimona stopped.)

Successive Israeli governments abided by the arrangement, which, in Hebrew, is referred to as “amimut,” which means opacity. In English, the arrangement is often referred to as Israel's “policy of ambiguity.” A joint document describing the agreement was never prepared. Instead, each side relied on its own notes, a former official said. President Gerald Ford abided by Nixon’s deal. Israeli officials were concerned that Jimmy Carter would chart a different course, but the American position, through the Carter and Reagan Administrations, remained unchanged.

The Israelis first started to feel as though the unwritten Meir-Nixon arrangement was no longer sufficient during the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, when, after the first Gulf War, in 1991, world powers talked about the possibility of creating a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms.

The first iteration of the secret letter was drafted during the Clinton Administration, as part of an agreement for Israel’s participation in the 1998 Wye River negotiations with the Palestinians. In the letter, according to former officials, President Bill Clinton assured the Jewish state that no future American arms-control initiative would “detract” from Israel’s “deterrent” capabilities, an oblique but clear reference to its nuclear arsenal. Later, Israeli officials inserted language to make clear to Washington that Israel would “defend itself, by itself,” and that it would, therefore, not consider the American nuclear arsenal to be a substitute for Israeli nuclear arms. George W. Bush, when he became President, followed Clinton’s lead, signing a similar letter, former officials told me.

Then, in 2009, a new President, Barack Obama, took office. From almost the start, Netanyahu was distrustful of Obama, and vice versa. “With Obama, we were all crazy,” an Israeli official told me. That April, Obama delivered an aspirational speech in Prague, setting out “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Obama’s advisers subsequently learned “how paranoid Bibi was that Obama was going to try to take away Israel’s nuclear weapons,” a former U.S. official told me, adding, “Of course, that was never our intent.” Obama signed an updated version of the letter in May, 2009.

While Israeli officials interpreted the letters as an effective commitment by successive American Presidents not to pressure Israel regarding its nuclear arsenal, U.S. officials told me that they viewed the letters as less categorical. “It was not a blanket ‘We’ll never ask Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.’ It was more, ‘We accepted the Israeli argument that they’re not going to disarm under current conditions in the Middle East,” a former U.S. official told me. Avner Cohen, the Middlebury Institute historian, said that U.S. Administrations have been reluctant to give up entirely on the possibility of ridding the region of nuclear weapons if Israel were to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with its neighbors, including Iran.

Ahead of a nonproliferation conference in 2010, Netanyahu became concerned, once again, that Israel could come under international pressure to disarm. In response, Obama made a public statement that echoed the contents of the secret letters, without revealing their existence. “We discussed issues that arose out of the nuclear-nonproliferation conference,” Obama said, after meeting with Netanyahu on July 6, 2010. “And I reiterated to the Prime Minister that there is no change in U.S. policy when it comes to these issues. We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it’s in, and the threats that are levelled against . . . it, that Israel has unique security requirements. It’s got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region. And that’s why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests.”

The tense scene in the West Wing over the letter came on the heels of a particularly chaotic transition, from Obama to Trump. Their advisers distrusted one another, and it is unclear if they ever discussed the Israeli letters before the Inauguration. So when Ambassador Dermer came to the White House to talk to Michael Flynn about arranging for Trump to sign the letter, Trump’s aides were confused and, initially, said that they needed more time. U.S. officials said that the Israelis wanted to limit who could take part in discussions of the letter, citing the need for secrecy. The Americans pushed back. Afterward, senior White House officials huddled together and complained to each other that Dermer had acted as though he owned the White House. Dermer declined to comment on the letter and told me that he does not recall any cursing. Flynn was ousted that night. Later, Trump signed the letter, becoming the fourth U.S. President to do so.

Like Obama’s advisers, Trump’s aides were baffled by the importance that Netanyahu placed on getting the letters signed so quickly. Cohen said that the issue is central for Netanyahu because the nuclear arsenal fuels his “sense of impunity, sense of Israel being so powerful, that it can dictate its own terms in the region and beyond.”

Adam Entous is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

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Posted (edited)

Johnson completely broke with JFK's Middle East policy, and then Nixon essentially capitulated to Israel's atomic arsenal.

Which, by the way, there is strong evidence they stole from the USA.  See my review of this book on the subject, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/11/how-israel-stole-the-bomb/

Morley used this book in his biography of Angleton.   But, in my review, I note that he did not make anything out of the switch in policy from Kennedy, to Johnson, and then how this was cemented by Nixon.  One can say that Kennedy was so adamant on no atomic weapons in the region, that he forced Ben Gurion out of office. IMO this was an important switch in historical terms.  And anyone who says that American resistance to Israel getting atomic weapons was a standard policy of American presidents does not know what they are talking about.  In the book referenced above, the author interviewed several retired CIA officers on the subject.  They all said that Kennedy was the last president who was really fanatical about 1.) Israel not getting the bomb, and 2.) nuclear non proliferation in general.

Kennedy's obstinacy was not due to an anti Israel attitude.  It was a simple part of his overall policy in the region.  He did not think the area was stable enough to house atomic weapons.  And he also thought that his policy of fairness to each side would not proposer if he allowed it.  This is why, when Kennedy was killed, the great Egyptian leader Nasser fell into a depression and demanded his funeral be shown on national  television four times. Many authorities on the subject of the Middle East believe that this junction, the passing of Kennedy, and Johnson's animosity toward Nasser, and his extreme favoritism toward Israel, was the major turning point that led to what we have today. (See The Devil's Game by Robert Dreyfuss.)  

Although I have not read the the Cohen book mentioned in this article, it has been reliably praised as one of the best on the subject.

Edited by James DiEugenio

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This is an extension of themes explored in threads on the "unspeakable." I still don't know whether i'ts the dog or the tail in control with the USA/Israel relationship, but I fear the ownership of the dog itself is the key . Where money and power is accumulated through armaments, who controls the politicos, gets the cash. In the 1920's and 1930's, the Morgan/Rockefeller/Harriman interests  supported the German build-up against the "communists" in Russia. That same group rescued a lot of Nazis and transported them out of Europe; many were hired by them to spy on Americans. The Kastner trial, of 1955, referred to earlier, pre-dated the Eichmann trial and uncovered the dirty little secret that a small number of Jews worked with a small number of Nazis for their mutual benefit.

 I think essentially the same two forces--the right wing Israel parties and the Neo-Con American ones - have joined forces. They are each intolerant, racist and warmongers.

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I think I posted this before, but in the context of the above, maybe it will now be recognized for how important it is on its own, and also as a reflection of how astute Kennedy was on the subject.  Before he made his speech on the Algerian conflict in 1957, he studied the subject of colonialism in North Africa and the Arab/Moslem nexus for a year.  I believe this is one of the reasons he reached out to Nasser who was a secularist who tried to stamp out the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, as we can see below.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

switch in policy from Kennedy, to Johnson,

I think the USS Liberty has an answer. What other explanation does the historical record uphold? Someone owed someone Big Time.

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Paz, I would not say Gaddafi was a credible source on the JFK case.

Robert:

I really do not know why Johnson did what he did in the Middle East.  I do know that he was close to Nelson Rockefeller. In fact he wanted him to run against Bobby Kennedy in 1968.  And we know the Rockefellers wanted to keep Nasser and his pan Arabism contained in order to benefit from their oil deals with the monarchies in the Middle East.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

Paz, I would not say Gaddafi was a credible source on the JFK case.

Well, he was someone who knew a lot and was friend of a lot of people, including Sarkozy. He was in no way someone I would take a drink with, but I think he knew what he was talking about on JFK and Dimona 

Edited by Paz Marverde

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3 minutes ago, Paz Marverde said:

s someone who knew a lot

And he also presided over the African country with the highest standard of living. Hillary was very proud of the NATO bombing of his country and the many deaths of civilians. Her biggest policy adviser on the Middle East was, apparently. Haim Saban, who gave her over 2.5M and proclaimed his "number one" concern was...Israel. Go figure.

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9 minutes ago, Robert Harper said:

And he also presided over the African country with the highest standard of living

Well, if you were not his opposer ... I repeat: he was NOT a saint. Nevertheless, he knew 

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  There is a highly detailed review of the radical shift in U.S. policies toward Israel's nuclear program at Dimona after 11/22/63 in French historian Laurent Guyenot's recently published book, From Yahweh to Zion.

  Guyenot also describes the broad history of Leo Strauss and the Neocons in considerable detail.  As Guyenot describes it, the Neocon's active involvement in the U.S. Executive branch began in earnest with Richard Perle and the Ford administration.  Many of the Neocons who later became advocates for increased U.S. military spending (and Star Wars/Team B propaganda in the 1980s) had been "liberals" opposed to the Vietnam War prior to the Six Day War in 1967.

   As for JFK and LBJ, their views on support for Israel's nuclear program were radically opposed.  Dimona became an unmentionable subject in LBJ's White House after 11/22/63, and John McCone became a persona non grata.  McCone complained that LBJ refused to even read his intelligence reports about Israel.

    Most of Guyenot's version of this history is probably old hat to the scholars on this forum, and he will become a persona non grata, himself, but his new book is a fascinating read, and generally well referenced.

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It is, and its available on Kindle.

I am preparing a major essay on this subject and I need to gather a bibliography.

The stuff coming out of the archives on this is startling.

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Yes, the Kindle version of Guyenot's new book (published in January of this year) is available at Amazon.

It is a wide ranging history of the past 3,500 years of Jewish history, predicated on Guyenot's improbable hope that the Likudniks will abandon the militant tribalism of Yahwism in favor of a more Osirian redemption of our doomed species.

Mythology aside, though, Guyenot presents a fairly detailed history of the Zionist movement in Europe, Israel, and the U.S. during the past century.

His view of the JFK assassination seems to be drawn partly from Michael Collins Piper--with a CIA false flag/attempted assassination (blamed on Castro, etc.) hijacked by Menachem Begin (Micky Cohen, etc.) and the Mossad at the behest of David Ben Gurion.  

    Guyenot also tries to explain LBJ's escalation of the Vietnam War after 11/22/63 in terms of Zionist military aspirations in the Middle East -- probably his weakest argument in the book.

    He uses the same "high-jacked false flag" paradigm to explain the CIA and Mossad's alleged role in 9/11-- which parallels the thesis of his previous book, 50 Years of Deep State-- from JFK to 9/11.

   Regardless of the merits of Guyenot's ultimate theories about 11/22/63 and 9/11, he presents a lot of fascinating data in his latest book about the Zionist political movement in Europe and the U.S. since the late 19th century.

 

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2 hours ago, W. Niederhut said:

  There is a highly detailed review of the radical shift in U.S. policies toward Israel's nuclear program at Dimona after 11/22/63 in French historian Laurent Guyenot's recently published book, From Yahweh to Zion.

  Guyenot also describes the broad history of Leo Strauss and the Neocons in considerable detail.  As Guyenot describes it, the Neocon's active involvement in the U.S. Executive branch began in earnest with Richard Perle and the Ford administration.  Many of the Neocons who later became advocates for increased U.S. military spending (and Star Wars/Team B propaganda in the 1980s) had been "liberals" opposed to the Vietnam War prior to the Six Day War in 1967.

   As for JFK and LBJ, their views on support for Israel's nuclear program were radically opposed.  Dimona became an unmentionable subject in LBJ's White House after 11/22/63, and John McCone became a persona non grata.  McCone complained that LBJ refused to even read his intelligence reports about Israel.

    Most of Guyenot's version of this history is probably old hat to the scholars on this forum, and he will become a persona non grata, himself, but his new book is a fascinating read, and generally well referenced.

Thank you very much for this 

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