Institute for Research:
Middle Eastern Policy

"Research - Awareness - Accountability"




Did four U.S. Presidents promise to violate
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty & AECA for Israel?

UPDATED: December 17, 2019

IRmep filed a 22-page federal lawsuit (PDF) to compel National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) presidential libraries to release Bill Clinton and George W. Bush-administration letters signed under intense Israeli government pressure. The letters were signed early during each presidential administration and promise the U.S. will not pressure Israel over its nuclear weapons program. Similar letters were signed by the Obama and Trump administrations, but those records are not yet legally accessible under the Freedom of Information Act or the Presidential Records Act.

Existence of the presidential letters was reported by Adam Entous in a June 19, 2018 report in The New Yorker , "How Trump and Three Other U.S. Presidents Protected Israel's Worst-Kept Secret: Its Nuclear Arsenal." Entous wrote:

"The first iteration of the secret letter was drafted during the Clinton Administration, as part of an agreement for Israel's participation in the 1998 Wye River negotiations with the Palestinians. In the letter, according to former officials, President Bill Clinton assured the Jewish state that no future American arms-control initiative would "detract" from Israel's "deterrent" capabilities, an oblique but clear reference to its nuclear arsenal. Later, Israeli officials inserted language to make clear to Washington that Israel would "defend itself, by itself," and that it would, therefore, not consider the American nuclear arsenal to be a substitute for Israeli nuclear arms. George W. Bush, when he became President, followed Clinton's lead, signing a similar letter, former officials told me."

IRmep believes Israel's overall intention was to ensure that presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump would violate the Symington & Glenn amendments to the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which place  restrictions on foreign aid to foreign countries. Israel has received more foreign aid from the United States, demanded by its U.S. lobby, than any other foreign country. The AECA requires special protocols—including cut-offs or congressional waivers to avert cut-offs— for aid to non NPT recipients of U.S. aid. By securing written pledges from each incoming president, Israel also hoped to maintain a policy of "ambiguity" as to whether it has nuclear weapons. By insisting on maintaining such a "gray zone" Israel hopes to transcend calls for international inspections and informed debate about its arsenal. Israel apparently hopes the U.S. formally will continue to refuse to talk about Israel's nuclear weapons program as fact, precluding other countries from raising questions of Israel's number of weapons, deployment, waste handling, and use doctrine.

IRmep believes the letters are secret because they harm, rather than advance, U.S. national security. Although the National Archives and Records Administration claimed during the FOIA administrative process that even confirming the existence of such letters would be classified, IRmep argues that such information cannot properly be classified since the overall purpose of such secrecy is "to conceal violations of the law."



08/31/2018 IRmep Complaint (PDF)
10/10/2018 NARA Response to complaint (PDF)
10/10/2018 Court order:

Before the Court in this FOIA case are a complaint and an answer. The requirements of LCvR 16.3 and Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure appear to be inapplicable. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the parties shall meet and confer and propose a schedule for proceeding in this matter. The schedule shall address the status of Plaintiff's FOIA request, the anticipated number of documents responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA request, the anticipated date(s) for release of the documents requested by Plaintiff, whether a motion for an Open America stay is likely in this case, whether a Vaughn index will be required in this case, whether and when either party anticipates filing a dispositive motion, and any other pertinent issues. The parties shall file a joint status report that addresses these issues and that contains a proposed schedule and proposed order no later than 11/12/18. Signed by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on 10/10/18. (DJS)
11/20/2018 Scheduling order:

Having considered the parties' November 12, 2018 joint status report [9], it is hereby ordered that the parties shall adhere to the following briefing schedule: Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be filed on or before December 20, 2018; Plaintiff's Opposition and Combined Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment shall be filed on or before January 17, 2019; Defendant's Reply and Combined Opposition shall be filed on or before January 30, 2019; and Plaintiff's Reply shall be filed on or before February 28, 2019. Signed by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on 11/20/2018. (lctsc1)
12/20/2018 Defendant motion for summary judgement.
  (1) Memorandum in Support
  (2) Exhibit 1 - Declaration of John Laster
  (3) Exhibit 2 - Declaration of John Fitzpatrick OCR version
  (4) Statement of Facts
  (5) Text of Proposed Order
01/17/2019 Plaintiff cross-motion for summary judgement PDF HTML
  (1) Memorandum in support PDF HTML
  (2) Material facts not in dispute PDF   HTML
  (3) Proposed order  
  (4) Appendix index  
(5) NSC Box 612 "Israeli Nuclear Program"  
  (6) Congress: No AECA waivers on file for Israel  
  (7) NARA George W. Bush records releases  
01/18/2019 Defendant motion to stay until after government shutdown.

Defendant memorandum in opposition to plaintiff’s cross motion for summary judgment and reply memorandum in support of defendant’s motion for summary judgment PDF

  Exhibit A Letter from President George W. Bush to John W. Carlin (July 31, 2002) PDF
  Exhibit B  NARA Policy Directive Part 9 (October 2, 2016) PDF

Plaintiff memorandum in opposition to defendant’s motion for summary judgement and reply memorandum in support of plaintiff’s cross motion for summary judgement PDF HTML

  Exhibit List PDF
  Exhibit A - FOIA release of WNP-136 “Guidance on Release of Information Relating to the Potential for an Israeli Nuclear Capability.” PDF
  Exhibit B - Why “Glomar” is such an apt name for preemptive denial of FOIA claims PDF
Exhibit C - Court-ordered release of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense report “Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations.” PDF
11/27/2019 Memorandum Opinion granting Defendant Motion for Summary Judgment (PDF)


Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. 
Copyright 2002-2019 IRmep. All Rights Reserved.
Content may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole
or part without the expressed written consent and
citation of IRmep unless otherwise directed.