Excerpts from JFK’s letter to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion regarding inspections of Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona, and his concerns about Israel obtaining nuclear weapons:
“I am sure you will agree that there is no more urgent business for the whole world than the control of nuclear weapons […] The dangers in the proliferation of national nuclear weapons systems are so obvious that I am sure I need not repeat them here.
“It is because of our preoccupation with this problem that my Government has sought to arrange with you for periodic visits to Dimona. When we spoke together in May 1961 you said that we might make whatever use we wished of the information resulting from the first visit of American scientists to Dimona and that you would agree to further visits by neutrals as well. I had assumed from Mrs. Meir’s comment that there would be no problem between us on this.
“We are concerned with the disturbing effects on world stability which would accompany the development of a nuclear weapons capability by Israel. I cannot imagine that the Arabs would refrain from turning to the Soviet Union for assistance if Israel were to develop a nuclear weapons capability–with all the consequences this would hold. But the problem is much larger than its impact on the Middle East. Development of a nuclear weapons capability by Israel would almost certainly lead other larger countries, that have so far refrained from such development, to feel that they must follow suit.
While 4 1/2 lines of this letter remain “classified”, Kennedy’s language in this communication is diplomatic, but clear: He was firmly opposed to Israel’s nuclear ambitions, and intended to use the power of his office to see that they were contained.
Six months later, Kennedy was dead, replaced by Lyndon B. Johnson, a lifelong Zionist who was a strong supporter of Israel on every level, allowing them to pursue their nuclear ambitions unmolested.