JERUSALEM (May. 21)
The Soviet Union has offered to declare the Mediterranean and Middle East area as a nuclear free zone and to give guarantees that in the event of armed conflict, it would consider the area as outside the bounds for use of atomic weapons, it was disclosed here today.
The text of the letter, which was handed to Foreign Minister Golda Meir by Soviet envoy Mihkail Bodrov, was published by Kol Haam, the Communist organ. The Israel Foreign Office confirmed the receipt of the letter but said it had not yet had time to study the contents.
The Soviet note, as quoted by Kol Haam, asserted that the United States and its allies were creating danger in a wide area of the Mediterranean by accumulating there an “enormous quantity” of many missiles with “millions of tons of nuclear explosives.” It said that the introduction of NATO warships armed with nuclear weapons in the area would force the “peace loving nations” to direct retaliatory means into the areas of movement of submarines and the shores of NATO countries.
The Soviet note warned that there was a danger that nuclear weapons would, through the “fault of NATO leaders,” reach the gates of Jerusalem, the Vatican and Mecca. The note rejected the arguments of the United States and its NATO allies that the establishment of United States atomic submarine bases was intended only to preserve peace. The note insisted that the purpose of such deployments was “provocative” and a preparation for a “sudden anti Soviet attack.”
To ensure the security of the area, the note proposed that the entire area be declared a nuclear-free area and expressed the Soviet Union’s readiness to grant, together with the Western Powers, guarantees that if military conflict broke out, the area would be considered out of bounds for nuclear weapons use. The note expressed the hope that Israel would study the Soviet attitude.