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Kissinger Blamed ‘bureaucratic Mistake’ for Failure to Inform Israel of Us. Nuclear Talks with Egypt

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger told Israeli leaders this week that he had been under the (mistaken) impression that Israel was aware of the U.S.-Egyptian negotiations for Egypt’s purchase of a nuclear reactor, negotiations which had been proceeding since the spring, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned from highly placed sources here today. Kissinger said he had assumed his top assistant, Undersecretary of State Joseph J. Sisco, or Sisco’s deputy, Roy Atherton, had mentioned it in diplomatic conversations with Israeli envoys in Washington.

The U.S.-Egyptian negotiations were held quite openly by an Egyptian delegation in Washington in April and senior officials believe that Israeli intelligence was at fault in not having learned of them. This is especially so since stories about the impending U.S.-Egypt nuclear accord appeared in two Cairo newspapers in April. Kissinger, who sought during the Nixon visit here to allay Israel’s fears of the deal and placate its anger at not having been informed, told Foreign Minister Yigal Allon that a “bureaucratic mistake” had led to the U.S. failure to inform Israel last week of the impending inclusion of the nuclear deal in the Nixon-Sadat joint communique.

Apparently, there had been no intention originally of mentioning the deal in the communique. But Nixon, who sought to lend his Mideast visit as much substance as possible in the face of criticism at home that it was unnecessary, decided to include it, the JTA learned. Kissinger thereupon cabled Sisco at home to inform “concerned parties,” assuming he would inform the Israel Embassy among these. But by administrative oversight only Congressional and Administration “concerned parties” were informed, and the news of the agreement took Israel by surprise.

PERES, ALLON GOING TO WASHINGTON NEXT MONTH

As to Israel’s fears and doubts, the Secretary stressed in private as in public at his news conference here that effective controls would apply to the supply of uranium to Egypt. To justify the deal he told Israeli leaders that Germany. Britain, France and Canada–as well as Russia–had been waiting in line for the chance to sell Egypt a re-actor. In effect, he said, reactors could be bought from any of these countries on the open market, with far fewer control strings attached.

The sources revealed that Defense Minister Shimon Peres would leave for the U.S. early next month, to be followed by a military mission to negotiate the details of long-term arms supplies. Allon will probably meet with Kissinger in Washington at the end of July and Premier Yitzhak Rabin is expected to visit Washington next fall, according to the sources.

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