Kissinger says if Israel took out its nukes in 1973, US neither knew nor reacted 3Oct13 October 3, 2013

Haaretz     -    2 October 2013

1149225945The United States did not get any indication of a possible deployment of Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal during the Yom Kippur War, and had such a signal been received in Washington, the Nixon Administration “would have been very opposed to it,” then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has told an Israeli documentary series.

Kissinger granted a rare interview to “The Avoidable War,” a four-part TV series, alongside other former Nixon officials, such as Deputy National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and White House Counsel Leonard Garment, who passed away recently.

Kissinger and Scowcroft made what is likely their first-ever public reference to rumors – which have never been confirmed – that some Israeli government and military officials were mulling a nuclear strike, or at least a show of force, as desperation ran high in the early stages of the war. The two officials have essentially dispelled the long-held myth whereby Israel raised the alert of its surface-to-surface missiles – those that according to this version would be armed with unconventional warheads – so that it would be captured by U.S. satellites, reported to Moscow and from there to Cairo and Damascus, in the hope that they would order their armies to halt their advance.

Over the past 40 years, this tantalizing thesis was put forward by many publications, some of which drew on the testimonies of participants on the margins of military and political decision-making forums. However, Kissinger and Scowcroft, virtually the most authoritative members of Nixon’s national security team, debunk it outright. Whatever happened in Israel, they said, had had no impact on them, and thus on nobody else down the chain.

Tuesday, October 9 – three days into the war – was probably the lowest point of despair for the Israeli leadership, as evidenced by Prime Minister Golda Meir’s request to fly to Washington for an hour-long meeting with Nixon. In the documentary, produced and directed by Amit Goren and scheduled to be shown on Hot Channel 8 next week and on Channel 1 the following week, Kissinger was asked: “There was also talk of some other desperate moves or suggestions by some in the Israeli leadership, to take out their ultimate weapon, at least for show. Were you aware of such a signal?” The answer, said the 90-year-old grand master of 20th century diplomacy, was no.

”Did the Israelis on October 9 become so desperate that they threatened to employ or display ultimate weapons?” continued Kissinger. “If they did, it never came to my attention, and I never received nor did Nixon receive, and I suppose anybody in our government received, any indication that this was being contemplated or that it was shown, and we would not have, we would have been very opposed to it. But that issue never arose, and was never discussed with us.”

Asked whether such action would have been contrary to the understanding Nixon and he had reached with Meir and then Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin in September 1969 to refrain from proclaiming Israel’s nuclear status, Kissinger refused to go into details in regard to that understanding, which has been made public in declassified documents but never officially confirmed by either government. ”It certainly would have been contrary to what Israel understood our view to be on this matter. But the issue never arose. It was never discussed directly or indirectly,” he said.

When his associate and close confidant Scowcroft was asked about the reports that some high-ranking officers around then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan became so desperate that they considered using Israel’s doomsday weapon, the retired United States Air Force general responded, “It would not surprise me, that would be a logical line of thinking for defense officials, but as far as I know we were never privy to any information that that had been a consideration. We did not do anything out of fear that that would happen, to my mind.”.

“There was no nuclear signal, not launching anything but exposing whatever Israel had in its basement so that your satellites would photo it and you would tell the soviets who would tell the arabs to hold their horses?” the interviewer further insisted.

“There was no such signaling to my recollection,” Scowcroft replied. “I don’t know that I can rule that out, but it was not a factor.”


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