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Israel Could Produce Atomic Device Within Few Months, Kennedy Says

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Israel and India have been singled out by both William Foster, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and Sen, Robert F. Kennedy, New York Democrat, as the two nations of greatest immediate concern to American authorities concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Sen, Kennedy charged in a Senate speech that Israel and India already possess “weapons-grade fissionable material, and could fabricate an atomic device within a few months.” He said “there could be no stability anywhere in the world when nuclear weapons might be used….between Arabs and Israelis over the Gaza Strip.”

According to Sen. Kennedy, “Israel and Egypt each have been deeply suspicious of the other for many years, and further Israeli progress would certainly impel the Egyptians to intensify their present efforts.” He flatly asserted that Israel “can make nuclear devices within a couple of months, and weapons shortly thereafter.” He said, “that is the kind of danger that confronts us.”

He urged immediate initiation of American-Soviet negotiations–including other nations with present nuclear capability or potential–to formulate a non-proliferation treaty. The Senator also urged creation of nuclear-free zones. He said: “If these efforts are successful, we should call on Israel and the neighboring states of the Middle East, which might not be covered, to make the same commitment.”

An article published today in the new issue of “Foreign Affairs” by Mr. Fouter, head of the Arms Control Agency, was obviously cleared by the Administration before publication. It warned against proliferation of atomic weapons and pinpointed Israel and India as the two countries of the greatest immediate concern to the United States in this connection.

Mr. Foster said Israel and India were “almost certainly the most immediate cases in point.” He stressed that one side in disputes like the Israel-Arab situation could not be expected to forego acquisition of nuclear weapons if the other side obtains such arms. He hoped this point would be appreciated “by all elements” in Israel and Egypt “whenever the question of acquiring nuclear weapons arises.”

The White House press office today said it was glad Sen, Kennedy shared the President’s concern on the proliferation issue. It was indicated that the President himself will speak out on this question in the near future.

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