The United States decided against curbing Israel’s nuclear capability in 1969, according to declassified documents. The latest edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, drawing on newly released White House papers, reports that Israel had a nuclear bomb by 1967 and that within two years this was discovered by U.S. intelligence. Senior advisers to President Nixon recommended that he try to check Israel’s nuclear program, for fear of destabilizing the Middle East and bringing confrontation with the Soviet Union closer. But Nixon, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969, decided against applying pressure. According to the bulletin, in exchange for the U.S. restraint, Israel undertook not to go public with its nuclear capability by not conducting tests or deploying missiles. The policy evolved into the “strategic ambiguity” Israel pursues today with regard to its assumed atomic arsenal. Following the Nixon decision, the United States ended its annual secret visits to Israel’s main nuclear reactor in Dimona, removing another potential point of friction, the bulletin reported.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.