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Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 18, 1960: Israel May be Building A-Bomb, US Policy on Laos

The United States has questioned Israel about reports that it is developing atomic weapons, John McCone, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission said today. The New York Times is preparing a story for tomorrow's edition that will say the U.S. is "studying with mounting concern recent evidence indicating that Israel, with the assistance of France, may be developing the capacity to produce atomic weapons." Israel denied that is is making an atomic bomb. The Times story will quote a US official as saying that if Israel is working on a bomb it would take another two and a half years to complete the development."

Today in the New York Times, a summary of US policy towards Laos: "...the State Department made it clear this week that the United States would not hesitate to give Laos every possible assistance in case of aggression from outside. It planned to go ahead with its long-standing program of economic and military aid to the Government of Laos.

"The stakes in Laos were high indeed. Its location at the heart of southeast Asia made the small and backward land of utmost strategic importance. Its loss to the Communists would open up long borders of friendly powers such as Thailand and South Vietnam to infiltration by the Communists. It was also felt here [in Washington] that the loss of Laos to the Communists would prove an irreparable blow to United States and Western prestige throughout Asia.

"but Laos is still a long way fro home for most Europeans. And was it really worth fighting for? Would it not be better to take a stand elsewhere, later? Was the risk of major conflict justified? The United States was saying 'yes' it was worth it and 'no' it would not be better to stand up and be counted later. Its friends were beginning at last to listen, but as yet with only one ear."

December 17, 1960: Laos a Flashpoint

"The United States Government has served notice that it supports the legitimate Laotian Government of Premier Boun Oum and will do what it can to help that Government to overcome any threat of external aggression," an editorial in the New York Times on this day in 1960 states. "This position is supported by the whole Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, which has put strategic Laos under its protection and denounced Soviet shipments of heavy arms and Communist technicians to the Left-Wing rebel forces as 'outside interference' in Laotian internal affairs.

"There is hope that the issue may be decided by the recapture of the administrative capital of Vientiene by Government forces. The issue has been simplified by the fact that the forces of Captain Kong, who staged a coup d'etat to establish a neutralist Government, since overthrown by the National Assembly and disbanded by the King, have made common cause with the pro-Communist Pathet Lao forces, making the formerly three-cornered civill war a clear struggle between Communists and anti-Communists.

"In keeping with the Indochinese agreements, the United States stands, as Secretary Herter emphasizes, for a 'united and neutral' Laos. But any threat of 'external' aggression, which under the Southeast Asia Treaty could mean either direct or indirect aggression, would call for action in what Secretary Herter calls a 'tragic and dangerous' situation in which 'the fate of Southeast Asia may very well be decided by what happens in Laos.'"

In related news, the Soviet Union and its allies are responsible for the fighting in Laos, the US State Department said today.

West Germany said today it is backing the U.S. position for Allied control of the Atlantic nuclear force.

A US Air Force plane crashed into a crowded Munich, Germany, street car today, killing at least 50.