Film Treatment - "Grave Consequences"
Covered Up Attack On Liberty by Operation Cyanide in the Six-Day War
"Public Policy Is An Instrument of War'
"Rigorous revisionism is, of course, at the heart of historical practice, and to practice it in the face of a state-endorsed orthodoxy can require a considerable measure of gall, as well as craft."
and Sacrificed the USS Liberty in a Failed US-Israeli False-Flag Covert Mission
© Iona Miller & Charles W. Stone, Cryptoporticus Productions
"The story has been hushed up."
-- Louisiana Congressman John R. Rarick in the Congressional Record--House, September 19, 1967, pp. 12170-6
"…if Israel produces the atomic bomb then I believe that the only answer to such action would be preventive war. The Arab states will have to take immediate action and liquidate everything that would enable Israel to produce the atomic bomb." --interview with President Nasser, Feb. 20, 1966, to Iraqi Newsmen
OPENING SCENE: The Egyptian spymaster liked his mistresses as “modern” as he wanted to make his country. In the “swingin’ 60s” apartment of his favorite lover, a very tense Salah Nasr is half dressed, heatedly talking on the phone with his Soviet counterparts. Hurling his shoe through a closed window, he vehemently punctuates the Arabs' urgent desire to push not only “the envelope,” but their target – what his psyops propaganda calls “the Zionist entity” -- into the sea, once and for all.
The underwater cable crackles with static that is not so unusual for the times. But alert to all espionage potentials, Soviet intelligence on the far end naturally wonders if their seemingly secure phone is as compromised as their provacative incursion flights in prototype MiG-25 Foxbats over the Israeli nuclear installation at Dimona.
Nasr's next call is to "The Undertaker," Ibrahim Baghdadi from the first generation of the Egyptian intelligence along with Zachariah Mohi El-Din, Mohamed Nassim and Fathi El-Dib. He got the alias from poisoning King Farouk with aconitine and kidnapping Nasser’s political dissidents from Europe bringing them drugged in coffins to Egypt. Nasser's secret service sent Essam Al-Masry and Baghdadi as his supervisor to get rid of Farouk, who had a dinner date that night with a lady friend “Anna Maria” who was cooperating with GIE for money. Nasr had a high regard for the use of sex in intelligence.
Nasr's own mistress Etmad Khorshid reminisces how Nasr told her "Farouk will die tonight," on the 18th of March, 1965. He was waiting for an important telephone call from abroad. She was amazed he gave her telephone number to his colleagues who called him for important issues in her house. Once again, he was suspiciously acting like a trapped tiger. The US knew about Nasr's vulnerable phone and decided to take advantage of his lax security.
CUT to a “Guppy” submarine in international waters off the Northern Sinai Coast. Frogmen just bugged the Egyptian undersea cable. NSA cryptographer Lt.-Commander Schleicher, whose name happens to mean 'stealth' in German, rapidly decodes the crucial conversation. The US may need to take immediate retaliatory measures on Cairo, conventional or perhaps, unthinkably, nuclear… Little do they realize that they and the topside USS Liberty are sitting ducks slated for human sacrifice in a draconian plan to blow the Soviets all the way back to Moscow leaving a clear path to Middle East oil for the West – an ill-fated Operation Cyanide.
CUT to a clandestine meeting in the dark labyrinths of Washington DC. An insider military/intelligence faction argues among themselves with a Mossad agent over what to do next and what they CAN tell the President and maintain deniability… The Kremilin had manipulated the war to the brink of nuclear conflict. Meanwhile, the USS Liberty is locked in the gun sights of a power trap of competing agendas, target of a Goliath international power struggle. The result is more than a very embarrassing truth. A murderous air and sea attack ensues that leaves the sitting duck Liberty a floating bloodbath, dead in the water.
We Don't Need More Poison; We Need a Truth Serum
It actually happened, at least something like that. The Six-Day War was a "ghost war," a stage-managed war by deception between the Cold War superpowers, as well as a historically decisive Middle East skirmish. When Mossad was new, the US used it as a cover to keep a certain amount of violence around Israel so they agree to spend extraordinary amounts on security because of continual threats. Poison is among the oldest weapons of espionage. It can be literal or metaphorical. Anti-Zionism was a theme in Soviet propaganda in 1967.
"Poisoning the well" uses adverse information about a target, pre-emptively presented with the biased intention of implicating or discrediting them or diminishing their strength before an invasion. The Soviets lied to the UAR about Israeli troop movements to agitate both sides. Agit-Prop is a political strategy -- a form of global theatre. Agitation meant urging people to do what Soviet leaders expected them to do. Propaganda acts on the mind, while agitation acts on emotions.
Nasr should have known better than to fall for it because he was a propaganda genius. He published an autobiography and a two volume work in Arabic entitled "Al-Harb Al-Nafsiyah: Maraka Al-Kalimah wal Moutaqad," (Psychological Warfare--the Battle of Words and Perceptions). Perhaps the finest work on psychological warfare in the Arabic language, it combines not only Arab, but German, Russian, British and American sources.
Perhaps in an ill-fated attempt to fight fire with fire, NSA and the Israeli coalition government conspired in a clandestine pact. The US-Israeli Covert Action, OPERATION CYANIDE, was an attempted false-flag attack on US spyship USS Liberty designed to place blame on the Arabs, It lived up to its lethal name with "GRAVE CONSEQUENCES" for Liberty's crew.
Each nation-state involved was jockeying for its own interests and advantage. After six days of boundary-changing suspense, nobody rested on the seventh. 1967 became the year that transformed the Middle East. And our global fate still hangs in the delicate balance.
Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. Officially, the US took a neutral stance. The Soviets sent massive amounts of arms to the Arabs on the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts. The US sent their spy ships because the Cold War was heating up. The week before saw the release of The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper" album, dubbed the soundtrack of the "Summer of Love."
Psyops to Fly-ops
The Middle East wasn't feeling it. The Kremlin typically used psyops to provoke crises and conflicts to advance its interests and power. They "poisoned the well" and deliberately engineered the war to dispose of the Israeli nuclear threat. Moscow embarked on the course of direct disinformation: On 13 May 1967, Moscow informed Cairo about "top-secret data" that 13 Israeli brigades had been moved to the Syrian border. [Report on PressCenter.ru, 26 March 2001].
Soviets flew sorties over Dimona in the still-experimental and top-secret Foxbats both to bolster a deliberate Soviet effort to encourage Israel to launch a war, and to ensure that the nuclear target could be effectively destroyed once Israel, branded an aggressor for its preemption, came under a planned joint Arab-Soviet counterattack.
Soviet disinformation was a deliberate strategic move, part of a plan to provoke Israel into a preemptive strike in order to legitimize direct Soviet naval and aerial intervention in favor of an Arab counterattack. This intervention was actually set in motion before the unforeseen character and effect of the Israeli strike. Soviet nuclear-missile submarines were allegedly poised off Israel's shore, ready to strike back in case Israel already had a nuclear device and sought to use it. The Soviets were also said to have geared up for a naval landing on Israel's beaches.
The war was a Kremlin plot gone wrong, but they weren't the only ones plotting, gambling for nuclear stakes and supremacy in the oil fields.
Having received information about Israel's progress toward nuclear arms, the Soviets aimed to draw Israel into a confrontation in which their counterstrike would include a joint Egyptian-Soviet bombing of the reactor at Dimona. Soviet nuclear weapons were readied for use against Israel in case it already possessed, and tried to use, any nuclear device.
Direct Soviet military intervention actually began with overflights of Israel's main nuclear facility by Soviet aircraft and pilots, in preparation for the planned attack on this target and/or in order to create concern in Israel that ensured its launch of a first strike. At the time, the nuclear context was denied even in internal US administration estimates.
On 13 December 1965, one of the leaders of the Israel Communist party, Comrade [Moshe] Sneh, informed the Soviet Ambassador in Tel Aviv about his conversation (9 December 1965) with the adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel, Gariel, in which the latter declared Israel's intention to produce its own atomic bomb. Gariel" is the Russian transliteration of the Hebrew name Har'el.
The title of "adviser to the Prime Minister" identifies Sneh's interlocutor as Israeli spymaster Isser Harel. He was a founder, and for many years the boss, of Israel's General Security Services (Shin Bet) and its Mossad intelligence agency. He was appointed in September 1965 as special adviser on intelligence and special operations to Prime Minister Levi Eskhol.
During the 1956 Sinai-Suez crisis, a Soviet nuclear threat directed at Israel, Britain, and France sufficed to halt their offensive against Egypt. This experience was a major factor in impelling Israel, as well as France, to seek a nuclear deterrent. Russian histories claim that "this nuclear ultimatum . . . has, in effect, been hushed up in Western literature.
The West has tended to credit US pressure, more than the Soviet threat, for the Anglo-French-Israeli climb down, but this was not the perception in Moscow. The Soviet foreign minister at the time, Dmitri Shepilov, claimed years later that there had been no intention to make good on this threat, but the ploy worked to such a degree that it encouraged Khrushchev to try a similar maneuver in Cuba in 1962.
Despite their failure in Cuba, in the Middle East 1956 was a successful example for the Soviets of how they could employ their nuclear clout to limit Israeli action against their Arab clients, thus reinforcing these clients' dependence on Moscow--as long as Israel had no counterdeterrent.
Preventing Israel from achieving even the semblance of nuclear superiority and a credible reply to any nuclear threat thus became an objective of Soviet policy, in addition to real or feigned anxiety over a direct threat to the USSR's southern fringe. The claim has been made that the USSR--rather than the Arab states--was the primary target of Israel's nuclear-deterrent project from its outset.
The KGB rezident in Tel-Aviv at the time, Ivan Dedyulya, relates that when posted there in late 1962, he was instructed "to ascertain the . . . progress of work for creating atomic arms in Israel." A former head of the Soviet Foreign Ministry's Middle East Department, Oleg Grinevski, states that "by the mid-1960s, our intelligence had truthful enough data on Israel's nuclear potential."
A Russian miltary historian notes that in addition to "cosmic intelligence," the Soviets also knew from "HUMINT" sources about the actual nature of Israel's "textile plant" at Dimona. At the time he made his disclosure to Sneh, Harel was undoubtedly aware that Israel's nuclear program was high on the priority list of Soviet intelligence. Harrel had tracked down and captured notorious Nazi of the 'final solution,' Adolf Eichmann. He pursued Nazi doctor Mengele even more intently.
Russian-born Israeli, Harel believed the Soviets would logically have preferred to have their agent remain in government. Therefore, although he did put Sneh under surveillance, he determined that "Sneh . . . was never a secret agent infiltrated into the Zionist movement and later into the Zionist left in order to undermine it from within." It was no coincidence that [Sneh] was elected secretary-general of the League for Friendship with the USSR. . . . Through this organization, Moscow secretly financed its friends in Israel. This public activist collaborated closely with the Soviet special services and supplied them with `valuable material on the issues of [Israel's] foreign and internal policy'.
The Israel Communist Party and Harel knew any statement he made to Sneh would be relayed to the Soviet embassy. Indeed, the Soviets themselves took this for granted. Apparently, Gariel had been assigned to inform the Soviet leaders, by means of Sneh, about Eshkol's point of view on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
By 1967, the Israel Communist Party had formally split, and the CPSU had opted to foster the Arab-nationalist oriented majority splinter, Rakah. On the eve of the Six-Day War, as his close associate reports, Sneh was working day and night to prevent the impending war. He utilized his good connections with Eshkol, on the one hand, and Soviet Ambassador Dmitri Chuvakhin, on the other, to try and bring about an Israeli-Soviet dialogue that might stop the erosion toward war.
In 1955, the USSR decided to provide Egypt with an experimental nuclear reactor a few days after the US made a similar agreement with Israel. Whether promoting Egypt's nuclear capability toward the military level was ever envisaged by Moscow, before it adopted a firm antiproliferation policy, merits further research.
Harel, whose power as head of the Mossad and Shin Bet had been unchallenged, was dismissed by Ben-Gurion in March 1963. The immediate and ostensible reason was Harel's uncompromising campaign against German scientists working on weapons-development projects in Egypt, which the Mossad chief attributed to neglect, if not collusion, by what he considered an inadquately de-Nazified West Germany.
Harel's campaign threatened to turn into an open confrontation with Bonn. In addition to missiles, the Germans in Egypt were suspected of developing WMD. Most references in this context are to chemical, biological, and perhaps radiological weapons. Back channel rumor had it that Nasser had cyclosarin from Russia for his opening salvo on Tel Aviv. Egypt definitely received defensive CW assistance from the Soviet Union in the 1960s and early 1970s and might have received support for an offensive CW program.
It was strongly suspected that since the early 1960s Egypt expanded its own CW capability to include domestic production of nerve agents and psychoactive chemicals. By the early 1970s Egypt was believed to possess stocks of mustard, tabun and sarin. However, according to a counterestimate submitted by Amit, Harel raised the specter of nuclear weapons too.
Did Israel's former spymaster become a major KGB source--knowingly or otherwise? This seemingly preposterous notion cannot be entirely ruled out, though it cannot be suggested as probable without further evidence. However, the Soviet Foreign Ministry memorandum of 23 February 1966 treats Harel's remark to Sneh as a bona fide message from the highest Israeli authority--and notes that it conflicted with Israel's official policy, which was communicated to Soviet diplomats on several occasions.
In a conversation with the Soviet ambassador, the Foreign Minister of Israel Golda Meir stressed that "Israel does not have an atomic bomb, her country is threatened not by atomic, but . . . conventional arms, and Israel adheres to peace and general disarmament." Similar statements were pronounced publicly by Prime Minister Eshkol. If Gariel's remarks on "direction of Israel to create its own atomic bomb" reflect the real intentions of the Israeli government, the honesty of Israel's foreign policy is called into question.
The Americans demanded "Israel's assurance . . . that it will not possess nuclear weapons. . . . Rabin asked: Would the United States "consider a weapon, which had not been advertised and tested, to be a weapon that could be used?" [emphasis added]58 Israel thus held that "advertisement" was an essential component of nuclear deterrence: For a weapon to have this effect, the adversary must know that it is available and that the readiness to use it exists.
Given the US position and Israel's own previous commitments, publishing such an advertisement officially was out of the question. The only alternative could be transmitting the message through deniable but credible back channels. Might Harel's declaration have been a deliberate attempt at deterrent "advertising," presumably endorsed if not initiated by Eshkol?
Dayan, as Defense Minister after the Six-Day War, has already been reported as proposing precisely such a course of action vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. A credible Israeli bomb also would deter the Soviets from taking any steps in the Middle East that would jeopardize Israel's survival. In Dayan's scenario, Israeli intelligence agents would secretly inform their Soviet counterparts as soon as Dimona's assembly line went into full production.
By 1965 the Soviets were aware of Israel's nuclear efforts. It is far less certain whether they had precise information as to the stage Israel's development had reached. TIn December 1965 the Soviets received an unambiguous message from an authoritative Israeli source that Israel was developing an atomic bomb and intended to arm itself with such a weapon.
The main news for Moscow must have been not the intent but the fact that it had not yet been realized, and that a window of opportunity still existed to prevent its fruition. A similar assessment of Israel's technical capability had been made by the United States' intelligence community in December 1964; however, its prediction that Israel could explode its first nuclear device within two or three years was qualified by "after it decides to develop nuclear capability."
Assuming the USSR's technical information was equal to the Americans', Harel provided the crucial component: that the political decision had indeed been made, and remained in force after the change of leadership. It would seem extremely unlikely that a person of Harel's experience was unaware of the distinction between informing the adversary before and after the deterrent weapon is procured. But the Soviets appear to have taken his disclosure at face value. Harel's disclosure thus presented the USSR with the decision whether to act--or to prompt Egypt to act--in a similar way to Israel's strike at Iraq's nuclear potential.
The evidence that the USSR did provide Egypt with chemical weapons is not conclusive, but if this supply included more than defensive equipment, it may indicate a preference to limit Nasser to lesser WMD as a substitute for nuclear arms. Israel’s hospitals prepared for mass casualties, not only from the advanced conventional weapons supplied by the Soviets to Egypt and Syria and by the West to Jordan, but also from chemical weapons, which Egypt was known to have used during its war in Yemen.
The Soviets' intended central intervention in the war was thwarted, however, by the overwhelming nature of the initial Israeli success. Israel 's preemption, far from weakening its international legitimacy and exposing it to devastating counterattack, proved decisive in determining the conflict.
Because the Soviet Union 's plan thus proved unworkable its role in stoking the crisis, and its plans to subsequently remake the Middle East to its advantage, have remained overlooked, undervalued or simply unknown to historians assessing the war over the past 40 years.
While the Soviets were obsessing on Dimona, the US was thinking "Domino Theory" and big oil interests. The US and Israel devised an outrageously black op, with the poisonous name Operation Cyanide to rid themselves of the Soviet threat in the region.. It sounded ominously suicidal or murderous, and might have been for the whole world if it spun out into nuclear confrontation. We don't know if Cyanide orginated in US or Israeli intelligence, but a dark pact was made that could have poisoned the Mediterranean well.
The Six Day War marked an important turning point in Israeli culture, the Israeli people took control of their destiny. They had clandestinely made a couple of cobbled together nuclear weapons, as their enemies suspected. It was time to act. An Egyptian air strike at Dimona was one of the two perceived threats Israel consistently most feared. The other was direct Soviet military intervention. Cultural activity blossomed, including rock music. Economic growth went from 1 to 13 percent the year following the war. The Israeli music scene opened up to the rest of the world. Rock music, which prior to the war had almost no audience and was almost never played on the state radio, started drawing audiences.
Popular bands in the first wave of Israeli rock were The Lions, The Churchills, The Fat and the Thins, The Styles, The Electric Stage, The Seventh Radiance, The Goldstars, The Sing-Sing, The Blue Stars and The Spiders. In the euphoria that followed the Six-Day War, the performing groups of the Israel Defense Forces rose in status, with a steady stream of songs about victory, bereavement and loss. Rock was part of the alternative music scene, played in clubs such as Hakarish and Calypso, formerly know as drug dens.
Assimilated Jewish college students in search of spiritual inspiration flocked to Israel. and so did many young gentiles and "Hippies," who rejected the materialistic emphasis of modern western culture. "Make Love, Not War" took on acute meaning in the Six Day War. They say if you remember 1967, you weren't there. But the crew and families of the USS Liberty cannot forget. And the USS Trutta was no "Yellow Submarine" but rigged for serious covert surveillance. Monitoring Soviet signals was central to USS Liberty's mission. They were sending "technical reports" of intercepted Soviet signals the day of the attack.
At least three Soviet ships were "in the area" of the USS Liberty immediately after the attack. The Nikolai Podvoysky is identified by shipyard records as a tanker -- whose presence in the area could only be to refuel warships. There is a Soviet angle of the Liberty's mission or of the circumstances around the attack. Unless the Nikolai Podvoysky was mistakenly identified as a trawler, which in turn was assumed to be an intelligence-gathering ship -- both of which are also mentioned as approaching or following the Liberty -- one or two more Soviet ships were also present.
Soviet presence in the Mediterranean was not new and certainly not random. May 15, 1967 Egyptian forces entered the Sinai, in violation of the agreement signed in 1957, in the wake of the Sinai War. In addition, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships and ordered UN forces to withdraw from their positions along the border.
The Soviets received a secret Israeli message indicating that Israel, despite its official ambiguity, was about to acquire nuclear weapons. Determined to destroy Israel’s nuclear program before it could produce an atomic bomb, the Soviets then began preparing for war--well before Moscow accused Israel of offensive intent, the overt trigger of the crisis.
A Soviet-Arab onslaught was to be unleashed once Israel had been drawn into action and was branded as the aggressor. The Soviets had submarine-based nuclear missiles poised for use against Israel in case it already possessed and tried to use an atomic device, and the USSR prepared and actually began a marine landing on Israel’s shores backed by strategic bombers and fighter squadrons. They sent their most advanced, still-secret aircraft, the MiG-25 Foxbat, on provocative sorties over Israel’s Dimona nuclear complex to prepare the planned attack on it, and to scare Israel into making the first strike. It was only the unpredicted devastation of Israel’s response that narrowly thwarted the Soviet design.
Moscow, humbled by the losses of the April air battle, had already goaded its Egyptian ally into greater hostility towards Israel as a way of easing the pressure on Damascus. Soviet officials conjured up imaginary Israeli troop concentrations on Syria's borders, prompting Colonel Nasser to mass his own armies at the Egyptian-Israeli frontline in Sinai. But he even exceeded his mandate from the Soviets when he dismissed the UN’s truce-monitoring force in the Sinai Peninsula and mounted a blockade of the Red Sea’s Straits of Tiran, denying shipping access to the Israeli port of Eilat.
According to Israel's declared national security policy, Egypt's provocative action was justification for an act of war (casus beli). But by June 1967, the Israelis found themselves increasingly surrounded by superior Soviet-backed forces of the Arab and Islamic world, all of whose leaders were vowing to "throw the Jews into the sea," and the Israelis were considering a first strike, before it was too late. But the Soviets had already orchestrated a strategic plan of their own.
Soviet leadership commissioned intelligence estimates of the war's outcome well before the overt outbreak of the crisis. Col. Syromyatnikov claims that he was an exceptional Cassandra in a chorus of politically slanted sanguine prognoses, due to his intimate acquaintance with the Arab military trainees in the USSR. "My knowledge of this contingent... convinced me of the heresy that in the expected war, Israel would win. I also reflected this in a memorandum that was submitted to the KGB directorate for military counterintelligence."
However, for opposite reasons from the optimistic consensus, he concurred in the recommendation that Soviet forces should intervene directly: "I consequently noted that if the USSR desired a victory for Egypt, Syria and Jordan, it had to send pilots and tank crews, and mainly to assume the management of these armies."
He claims that several of his colleagues, who did not submit such assessments in writing, did dare to voice similar opinions at a meeting that was convened at the General Staff, because the "big boss" had been "ill for several months" and did not attend. No date is given for this meeting, but assuming that the big boss in question was Defense Minister Rodion Malinovsky, this puts the meeting, and thus this stage of planning for the "expected war," no later than the latter's death, after prolonged illness, on March 31--that is, even before the Syrian-Israeli clash on April 7 that is widely held to have precipitated the larger crisis.
A retired Soviet air force lieutenant named Yuri V. Nastenko confirmed years later, that bomber and fighter jets, such as the MiG-21s under his command were already on highest operational alert on the evening of June 5, 1967, in expectant preparation for "real combat." Another Russian officer, Yuri N. Khripunkov, a former Soviet naval commander who was serving on one of 30 Soviet warships that had been moved from the Black Sea southward to the Mediterranean in June 1967, also reported being on stand-by for action against Israeli targets.
With Israel's alleged nuclear activities becoming a hot topic in Cairo and Moscow, the Soviet Navy had already deployed some of its nuclear submarines to the Mediterranean in early 1967. One of its captains had received top secret sealed orders to prepare for action, apparently firing missiles at the Israeli shoreline, when ordered directly by the Kremlin. More vessels followed shortly as Moscow offered Cairo a "nuclear umbrella" to safeguard Egypt against an Israeli nuclear weapons capability.
Marshal Andrei Antonovich Grechko, the Soviet deputy defense minister, actually had told his Egyptian counterparts in Cairo that the Kremlin had dispatched "destroyers and submarines to the waters near Egypt, some armed with missiles and secret weapons" to help wipe out the Zionists. Thus by the end of May 1967, Soviet amphibious forces were placed on readiness for action aboard of vessels "visiting" Port Said and an air component was placed on alert in the Ukraine, with a small staff group already forward deployed in Egypt.
An Egyptian plan to attack Israel codenamed Operation Fajr (Dawn) was set to start effectively at dawn for May 27, 1967. Another plan, which was already shaped jointly in November 1966, by Soviet Marshal Andrei Gretchko and Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer, was named "Conqueror" and modeled on clear Soviet strategic concepts.
A detailed report of the joint-Egyptian-Soviet plan was captured later by the IDF on the Golan Heights from Syrian sources, including Russian language documents. However, for reasons of political constraints, directed by highest authority at the time, these were kept top secret and were only released in part many years later. Indeed, Israel's political cover-up succeeded so well that Kremlin's proven responsibility for the Six-Day War had actually been withheld from the histories of the 1967 conflict until close to its frostiest anniversary!
The story of Moscow's active involvement in the Six Day War and its immediate aftermath, the so-called War of Attrition (June 1968- August 1970) reads like a perfect mystery thriller. It was conducted by all involved with shrewd manipulations, deceit and deception concocted by the best brains of the intelligence trade, in Moscow, Tel Aviv and Cairo.
Moscow made military preparations during Spring 1967, when the Kremlin prepared a plan for surrounding Israel with an armada of nuclear-armed naval forces in the Mediterranean. It included even pre-positioning military matériel on land, and training troops nearby with the expectation of using them physically against Israeli targets. Soviet photo-reconnaissance MiG-25s (the "Foxbats" of the title) actually overflew the Dimona nuclear reactor shortly before hostilities started, in May 1967. The security at Dimona (officially the Negev Nuclear Research Center) was particularly stringent. For straying into Dimona's airspace, the Israelis even shot down one of their own Mirage fighters during the Six-Day War.
Moscow's action in 1967 followed a trend in veiled threats, which Premier Nikolai Bulganin had directed at Israel as well as Great Britain and France during the so-called 1956 "Suez Crisis", warning them to halt their activities against Abdul Nasser's Egypt. A few years later, a similar ploy nearly worked during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, only to be averted by a cool-headed John F Kennedy. Now as tension rose once again in the Middle East, The Kremlin, under Andrei Kosygin tried this ruse again -- this time against the state of Israel.
By 1966 the Soviets had built up their Mediterranean force to an average daily strength of fifteen ships which were making port calls from Egypt to Gibraltar. This initial Soviet deployment in the eastern Mediterranean was to counter the American deployment of SSBNs there. As American ballistic submarines improved in range and accuracy, the Soviets were drawn into blue water operations to hunt and destroy these boats. Naval air cover was necessary for the surface fleets to performs these tasks. All of the USSR's surface units for deploying air power at sea were built in the Black Sea.
The first significant appearance of Soviet sea power in the Mediterranean came in 1967 during the Arab-Israeli conflict. During the Six-Day War (June 1967) the Soviets increased their force in a show of support for the Arab states. That was the first opportunity taken by the Soviets to demonstrate their willingness to influence major events in the area by the use of military power. During that crisis the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron numbered up to 70 units, some of which were in Port Said and Alexandria, to deter Israeli attacks against those ports.
What's New with My Subject?
At the same time the USA considered the Mediterranean the most important area from geopolitical and strategic standpoints. US Naval Squadron located there since the war time in the late 40’s was reorganized into the 6th Fleet functioning as a tool for strategic politico-military leverage not only at Arab states opposing US’s allies and Israel in particular but at Socialist allies of the USSR. From 1963 till 1967 the amount of SSBN on patrol and with missiles had been increased in the Mediterranean theater from 2 to 10. The main body of the 6th Fleet included two aircraft-carriers, two cruisers, four frigates, and over ten destroyers.
On April 3, 1967, US nuclear sub NAUTILUS welcomed her sixth Commanding Officer, CDR Norman E. Griggs. During the Spring and Summer of 1967 NAUTILUS supported various Atlantic Fleet ASW exercises. We can imagine they were on standby for the Middle East. An evaluation report of the Romanian General Staff’ Operational department of April 1965 states that the NATO Naval Forces had at their disposal a total of about 1500 warships and auxiliary ships of which 370 main combat ships; 45 naval aviation squadrons with more than 680 assorted aircraft; 8 battalions of marines.
In December of 1967, the USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654), a Polaris missile sub, was clipped by a Soviet sub in the Mediterranean Sea. The Americans knew the Soviet sub was there but could not move their massive boat away fast enough. Crewmen note the collision was "a glancing blow" but said it still left a gash in Marshall's forward starboard ballast tank.
The main NATO naval group, comprising the naval forces of the USA, the Great Britain, France, Italy, Turkey and, Greece, is concentrated in the Mediterranean. The NATO Naval Forces combat unit in the region is the Sixth US Fleet which has 3-4 aircraft carriers with nuclear warheads of types A-3B and A-4B with 300 kt equivalent and 2400 to 1500 km tactical radius. At the same time 3-4 other US nuclear submarines with “Polaris-A2” missiles of 2800 km range patrol in the Mediterranean.
According to official Sovet data of 1970 the Allied NATO Naval Forces in the Mediterranean, includes 260 ships and up to 120 airplanes and helicopters. The Naval Forces combat unit is the 16th Squadron of US nuclear submarines, based in Rota, Spain. In addition, the Sixth US Fleet has about 60 ships, 2 aircraft carriers of 180-200 airplanes, 20 destroyers, 1-2 missile cruisers as well as marine units.
The presence of Soviet nuclear submarines in the area makes our submarine presence, including the Guppies, crucial to US intelligence. The Soviet Navy began operating in the Mediterranean from 1967 on a permanent basis. Also a nuclear-capable anti-submarine carrier, the crew of the USS Randolph included a W Division that was responsible for storing and handling nuclear depth charges for the ship's anti-submarine wing. The ship's Crew Books identify that the ship included a W Division during deployments to the Mediterranean Sea in 1964, 1965 and 1967. The unit was made up of 24 men in 1965 and 30 in 1967. By Sept., it was redeployed to the Mediterranean Sea. During the cruise, the ship's Weapons Department included a Special Weapons "W" Division with 24 men.
Soviet political decisions and military operations diametrically opposed to the USSR's declared principles would never be intentionally, directly, and fully revealed in official documents. They would be intentionally obscured. General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev's disclosed in a speech to the Central Committee that Moscow's warning in mid-May about Israel's supposed offensive intentions, which sparked the final escalation toward war, was passed to Egypt and Syria according to a Politburo resolution and in the expectation that these governments would take appropriate countermeasures.
This refutes previously accepted theories that the Soviet warning allegedly came from a low-level initiative or its results were unintended. The USSR also premeditated diplomatic rupture with Israel in advance of the war, along with the military intervention. The absence or suppression of official records can and should be allowed to excise entire chapters from history.
Persistent claims to the contrary fell when Russian Defense Ministry in October 2006, over the signature of the chief spokesman of the Russian Air Force Col. Aleksandr V. Drobyshevsky unwittingly disclosed a secret operation by mentioning it in a completely different context. During the anniversary of a test pilots' school, Drobyshevsky praises the achievements of a test pilot school's graduates.
In 1967, the military aviator and high combat training of Colonel Bezhevets, A[leksandr] S. (now a Hero of the Soviet Union, an honorary test pilot of the USSR, [and] retired Air Force major general), were demonstrated while carrying out combat operations in Egypt, [and] enabled [him] to perform unique reconnaissance flights over the territory of Israel in a MiG-25RB aircraft.
Arguably, the conflict was deliberately engineered by the Soviet Union to create a condition in which Israel's nuclear program could be destroyed. Learning of Israel's progress towards nuclear arms, the Soviets aimed to draw Israel into a confrontation in which their counterstrike would include a joint Egyptian-Soviet bombing of the reactor at Dimona. They had also geared up for a naval landing on Israel's beaches. The USSR provoked that war, sought to use the conflict to eliminate Israel's nuclear capability, and seriously considered direct intervention. Covert para-military activity is always denied and preceeds a shooting war.
"The conventional view is that the Soviet Union triggered the conflict via disinformation on Israeli troop movements, but that it didn't intend for a full-scale war to break out and that it then did its best to defuse the war in cooperation with the United States," Gideon Remez, who co-wrote Foxbats over Dimona, told The Jerusalem Post. But their covert actions tell a different story. Soviet pilots flew the still-experimental, top-secret prototype aircraft later known as the MiG-25 (or "Foxbat" by its NATO reporting name) in highly provocative sorties over Israel's Dimona nuclear facility on May 17 and 26, 1967.
The Soviets direct intervention was put in motion to help Egypt as Israeli forces advanced into the Sinai, before the cease-fire ended hostilities. In November 2007 Putin awarded a posthumous decoration to an American-born Soviet spy who penetrated the Manhattan Project. He revealed that the United States had suppressed the affair entirely.
The Soviets' most advanced fighter plane, the MiG-25 Foxbat flew sorties over Dimona shortly before the Six Day War. This helped bolster the Soviet effort to encourage Israel to launch a war by assuring the nuclear target could be effectively destroyed. Branded an aggressor for its preemption, Israel came under joint Arab-Soviet counterattack.
Soviet nuclear-missile submarines were also said to have been poised off Israel's shore, ready to strike back in case Israel already had a nuclear device and sought to use it. The Soviets' intended central intervention in the war was thwarted. The overwhelming nature of the initial Israeli success, as Israel's preemption, far from weakening its international legitimacy and exposing it to devastating counterattack, proved decisive in determining the conflict.
Because the Soviet Union's plan proved unworkable, its role in stoking the crisis, and its plans to subsequently remake the Middle East to its advantage, have remained overlooked, undervalued or simply unknown to historians assessing the war over the past 40 years. Remez said the work was based on "some documentary evidence, in combination with testimonies of rank-and-file and high-ranking participants."
Among these are quotations from the commander of the Soviets' strategic-bomber pilots, Gen. Vasily Reshetnikov, indicating that he and his colleagues were given maps for a planned mission to target Dimona, and from Soviet Foreign Ministry official Oleg Grinevsky to the effect that the outcome of the war "saved Dimona from annihilation."
Soviet naval officer Yuri Khripunkov details orders his ship's captain gave him on June 5, 1967, to raise a 30-strong "volunteer" detachment for a landing mission in Israel. "The mission for Khripunkov's platoon was to penetrate Haifa Port - the Israeli navy's main base and command headquarters." Khripunkov was told that "similar landing parties were being assembled on board 30-odd Soviet surface vessels in the Mediterranean, for a total of some 1,000 men."
Perhaps surprisingly, declassified documents established that the CIA station chief in Tel Aviv was not exaggerating wildly when he threatened the Israelis on May 25 that "if you attack, the United States will land forces on Egypt's side." There was indeed a longstanding U.S. contingency plan, including a paratroop drop in Sinai, which was briefly dusted off for operational planning precisely on the same day.
A pro-Israeli intervention was, of course, never contemplated by the USSR, unless one counts the putative landing to "rescue ‘our people' in Israel". More importantly, unlike the Soviet-Arab plan, the U.S. contingency plan (which did also include a variant for a pro-Israeli intervention) never approached implementation: it never was considered at the top military or political level, no forces were committed, and no operational orders were issued.
CIA Report Shows U.S. Awareness of Soviet Preparations for Military Intervention
However, a declassified (originally top secret) CIA Intelligence history of the Soviet role in the Six-Day War, composed almost three years after the events, now reveals that U.S. intelligence did have "reports" about other Soviet "preparations for limited intervention": "On June 11 there were several reports of Soviet military preparations--one involving the possible landing of 400 Soviet sailors near Latakia, Syria, and the other involving the possible landing of paratroops in Syria to halt the Israeli advance toward Damascus."
The CIA document--which, overall, attributes to the USSR a moderating and restraining influence on its Arab clients in the 1967 conflict--goes on to minimize the significance of these moves: "These reports reveal the extent of Soviet concern for Syria and its regime, but the amount of support being considered was token only. It is not impossible that these reports were circulated by the Soviets in an attempt to scare the Israelis into stopping their advance into Syria."
There is as yet no evidence that these specific threatened operations were known to Israel or that they were what moved its leadership, and particularly Dayan, to limit the advance into Syria for fear of Soviet intervention. How landing 400 sailors at distant Latakia could achieve this purpose is unclear. There is also no mention of these reports in the recorded deliberations of the White House on the morning of June 10, following the receipt of Kosygin's hotline threat to take "measures, including military."
Those present in the situation room (including the CIA chief) admitted they had no idea what the Soviets' intentions and capabilities were. At any rate, intentionally spreading such rumors on June 11--the day after Israel accepted and implemented a ceasefire--could have served little purpose for the Soviets, except perhaps vis-à-vis their embittered Arab clients: to credit Soviet action retrospectively for cowing the Israelis.
Israel is believed to have begun full scale production of nuclear weapons following the 1967 Six-Day War, although it may have had bomb parts earlier. A CIA report from early 1967 stated that Israel had the materials to construct a bomb in six to eight weeks and some authors suggest that Israel had two crude bombs ready for use during the war.
Author Seymour Hersh, writing in the Samson Option says Prime Minister Levi Eshkol delayed starting weapons production even after Dimona was finished. The reactor operated and the plutonium collected, but remained unseparated. The first extraction of plutonium probably occurred in late 1965. By 1966, enough plutonium was on hand to develop a weapon in time for the Six-Day War in 1967. Some type of non-nuclear test, perhaps a zero yield or implosion test, occurred on November 2, 1966.
After this time, considerable collaboration between Israel and South Africa developed and continued through the 1970s and 1980s. South Africa became Israel's primary supplier of uranium for Dimona. A Center for Nonproliferation Studies report lists four separate Israel-South Africa “clandestine nuclear deals.” Three concerned yellowcake and one was tritium. Other sources of yellowcake may have included Portugal.
Egypt attempted unsuccessfully to obtain nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union both before and after the Six-Day War. President Nasser received from the Soviet Union a questionable nuclear guarantee instead and declared that Egypt would develop its own nuclear program. His rhetoric of 1965 and 1966 about preventive war and Israeli nuclear weapons coupled with overflights of the Dimona reactor contributed to the tensions that led to war.
The Egyptian Air Force claims to have first overflown Dimona and recognized the existence of a nuclear reactor in 1965. Of the 50 American HAWK antiaircraft missiles in Israeli hands, half ringed Dimona by 1965. Israel considered the Egyptian overflights of May 16, 1967 as possible pre-strike reconnaissance. One source lists such Egyptian overflights, along with United Nations peacekeeper withdrawal and Egyptian troop movements into the Sinai, as one of the three “tripwires” which would drive Israel to war.
There was an Egyptian military plan to attack Dimona at the start of any war but Nasser vetoed it. He believed Israel would have the bomb in 1968. Israel assembled two nuclear bombs and ten days later went to war. Nasser's plan, if he had one, may have been to gain and consolidate territorial gains before Israel had a nuclear option. He was two weeks too late.
The Israelis aggressively pursued an aircraft delivery system from the United States. President Johnson was less emphatic about nonproliferation than President Kennedy-or perhaps had more pressing concerns, such as Vietnam. He had a long history of both Jewish friends and pressing political contributors coupled with some first hand experience of the Holocaust, having toured concentration camps at the end of World War II.
Israel pressed Johnson hard for aircraft (A-4E Skyhawks initially and F-4E Phantoms later) and obtained agreement in 1966 under the condition that the aircraft would not be used to deliver nuclear weapons. The State Department attempted to link the aircraft purchases to continued inspection visits. President Johnson overruled the State Department concerning Dimona inspections. Although denied at the time, America delivered the F-4Es, on September 5, 1969, with nuclear capable hardware intact.
The Nuclear Threshold
The 1967 Six-Day War was a turning point in Israel's nuclear history. In Israel and the Bomb, author Avner Cohen revealed that on the eve of the Six-Day War, in late May 1967, Israeli engineers improvised rudimentary, but operational, nuclear weapons—the first time that Israel assembled nuclear devices. The 1967 war brought about a new political and strategic reality, as well as domestic changes in Israel itself that significantly decreased Israel's nuclear inhibition.
The Samson Option states that Moshe Dayan gave the go-ahead for starting weapon production in early 1968, putting the plutonium separation plant into full operation. Israel began producing three to five bombs a year. The book Critical Mass claims that Israel had two bombs in 1967, and that Prime Minister Eshkol ordered them armed in Israel's first nuclear alert during the Six-Day War. Avner Cohen in his recent book, "Israel and the Bomb," agrees that Israel had a deliverable nuclear capability in the 1967 war. He quotes Munya Mardor, leader of Rafael, the Armament Development Authority, and other unnamed sources, that Israel “cobbled together” two deliverable devices.
Having the bomb meant articulating, even if secretly, a use doctrine. In addition to the “Samson Option” of last resort, other triggers for nuclear use may have included successful Arab penetration of populated areas, destruction of the Israeli Air Force, massive air strikes or chemical/biological strikes on Israeli cities, and Arab use of nuclear weapons.
David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, was obsessed and driven by the vision that a nuclear capability would be the answer to Israel's security predicament. He considered the Arab-Israeli conflict to be deep and enduring, and, consequently, he believed that the resolution of the conflict could come only after the Arabs were compelled to accept the existence of the state of Israel. Until that time, Israel would have to rely on its sword.
Two other men were instrumental in making Ben-Gurion's nuclear vision a reality. The first was Professor Ernst David Bergmann, an organic chemist by training, who was Ben-Gurion's close scientific advisor. In 1952, Bergmann founded the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) as the vehicle through which to realize this nuclear vision.
The second was Shimon Peres, then young director-general of the Ministry of Defense, who was the administrator-politician who promoted that vision. As the architect of the "special relations" between Israel and France in the mid-to-late 1950s, Peres was the man behind the French-Israeli nuclear deal under which the nuclear complex in Dimona was built. For all practical purposes, Peres was the chief executive of the project during its initiation stage (a role he filled until he left the Ministry of Defense in 1965).
From early on, Peres recognized that it would be impossible for Israel to fulfill its nuclear dream on its own. He concluded that Israel needed a major foreign nuclear supplier. In 1955, Israel was the second nation in the world to sign an agreement under the Eisenhower administration's "Atoms for Peace" program. It soon recognized that this program could not be the prime vehicle for Israel through which to build an ambitious nuclear program aimed at military applications. France, on the other hand—which at the time was considering its own military nuclear program—seemed the most logical choice as the project's primary foreign supplier. The nuclear issue was clearly one of the underlying motives behind Peres' efforts to build the France-Israel alliance in the mid-to-late 1950s.
Israeli-French nuclear discussions about a major nuclear deal had been initiated prior to the 1956 Suez campaign—a brief armed conflict in which Israel, with the backing of Britain and France, attacked Egypt in response to the Arab nation's blockading of the Suez Canal and its support of border-area attacks by Arab fighters. But it was that joint military campaign - and in particular the Soviet Union's veiled nuclear threats against both countries during the campaign - that gave impetus to the sensitive talks between Israel and France. Still, it took Peres another year of on-and-off negotiations to produce the entire package, during which time a heated- but quiet - debate took place in Israel itself about the technological, financial, and political feasibility and desirability of the project. Ultimately, however, it was Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's project, and he gave the necessary support to Peres to complete the deal.
Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Salah Nasr headed Egypt's General Intelligence Directorate from the late 1950s until 1967, when he was arrested and tried after the Six-Day War. Shortly after the womanizer’s death, his mistress published her memoirs revealing intimate details of how he exerted significant control on Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser by throwing in his path real and imagined coups, assassination and terrorist plots all of which he was responsible for foiling.
He also used many tactics in violation of human rights to purge and liquidate opponents of Nasser and the Revolutionary Command Council that toppled the Egyptian monarchy in 1952. Among his chief adversaries was the Muslim Brotherhood. His purging of this illegal faction in Egyptian politics was so thorough that many leaders sought refuge in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These Arab monarchs were more than willing to provide the Muslim Brotherhood refuge as a proxy army to throw back at Nasser to undermine his pan-Arab agenda that vowed to sweep away traditional monarchies in the region.
Salah Nasr established a separate building for the GIS, with separate divisions for Radio, Computer, Forgery and Dirty tricks. In order to cover high expenses of intelligence work, Nasr established Al Nasr company of export & import to be a GIS secret front financing the apparatus. The company business flourished and eventually was separated from GIS and had an independent management.
However, it is almost certain that the GIS owns many companies in Egypt especially in tourism, aviationa nd construction. The name of GIS director was a secret until 1993 when General Omar Soliman who became the Chief of the GIS in 1993, broke the taboo. The GIS managed to plant Egyptian Agent among Jewish immigrants. Agent "Raafat el-Haggan" lived under cover for 18 years in Israel without being discovered. He established a network of spies in various fields of the Israeli community.
According to Arab rhetoric, Israel had no right to exist. Utterly destroying Israel and "reversing the results of 1948" was the central goal. Prestige and leadership of the Arab world were based on aggressive confrontation of Israel. In the Six-Day War, Israel responded decisively to the imminent threat in a war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
1967 sure wasn’t the Summer of Love in the Middle East. That June the USS Liberty, the world’s most advanced NSA spy ship, was viciously attacked and nearly sunk by Israeli firepower during the Six Day War. Was it Israel’s “fault” or was there some collusion with US intelligence denied for political purposes? The Cold War was at its height and the US wanted the Soviets out of the Middle East in the absolute worst way – perhaps even enough to risk WWIII. This little known event is in the same class of Covert Actions as the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion and Gulf of Tonkin Incident which also took place in the 1960s decade.
Had it been revealed, OPERATION CYANIDE meant certain political suicide for the Johnson Administration. The veil of absolute secrecy still conceals the betrayal of USS Liberty’s military and intelligence personnel, who were silenced for decades in the name of national security. Only the most valorous acts of courage saved the remaining crew and the ship from disappearing into the Deep with all her secrets including the newly deployed Moon Bounce Antenna.
But they did not die, despite the fact that air support was withdrawn. Furthermore, a US submarine also conducting espionage surveillance in the same area, briefly surfaced to periscope depth to catch photos of torpedo damage. The battle sounds were so loud that the submariners thought depth charges were being deployed against them. Questions that last a lifetime remained for the surviving crew of Liberty after the needless deaths of 34 of the crew and over 170 seriously wounded. The courageous Captain had to tuck his own guts back in after the bridge of the ship was blown up, while he continued to man the Conn for a stunning 17 hours that the Liberty was literally “dead in the water.”
The BBC, History Channel and other media have occasionally covered the tale, including the cover up story, but recent disclosures and revelations have expanded the story and broadened its context. No dramatization has ever been done, because both US and Israeli governments have covered up the truth with the “plausible deniability” that the attack was a case of “mistaken identity.” Now, many influential government and military personnel say it absolutely isn’t so. We have the facts and the story wants to be told so the world knows what happened and what horrible actions nearly ensued.
* The war resulted from a deliberate Soviet-Arab effort to provoke Israel into a preemptive strike;
* A central motive for the Soviet move was to halt and destroy Israel's nuclear development before it could attain operational atomic weapons;
* This Soviet effort was accelerated by a direct message from Israel that despite its official ambiguity, it was bent on acquiring such weapons;
* Soviet nuclear weapons were readied for use against Israel in case it already possessed, and tried to use, any nuclear device;
* The Soviets prepared a marine landing--with air support--on Israel's shores, which was not only planned but actually set in motion, and readied strategic bombers to strike Israeli targets;
* The USSR committed its most advanced, still secret experimental aircraft and top pilots for provocative reconnaissance sorties over Israel's most sensitive installation--its nuclear complex--in possible preparation for the planned attack on this target and/or in order to create such concern in Israel that would ensure its launch of a first strike;
* The planned Soviet intervention was to be unleashed once Israel was drawn into this preemptive attack and was internationally branded as the aggressor, out of calculation that the Soviet input could tip the balance in favor of an Arab counterattack.
# Moshe Dayan becomes Israel's Secretary of Defense.
# June 1 – The Beatles release Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, nicknamed "The Soundtrack of the Summer of Love"; it would be number one on the albums charts throughout the summer of 1967.June 2
# – Protests in West Berlin against the arrival of the Shah of Iran turn into fights, during which young Benno Ohnesorg is killed by a police officer. His death results in the founding of the terrorist group Movement 2 June.June 5 – Murderer Richard Speck is sentenced to death in the electric chair for killing eight student nurses in Chicago.
# June 5 – Six-Day War: Israel occupies the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai peninsula and Golan Heights after defeating its Arab neighbours.
# June 6 – East African Community (EAC) established.
# June 8 – Six-Day War – USS Liberty incident: Israeli fighter jets and Israeli warships fire at the USS Liberty off Gaza, killing 34 and wounding 171.
# June 10 – Israel and Syria agree to a United Nations-mediated cease-fire.
# June 10 – The Soviet Union severs diplomatic relations with Israel.