U.S. and Israel Cooperate on the Strategic Defense Initiative

May 6, 1986

The Reagan Administration considered Israel a “strategic asset” because of Israel’s opposition to the Soviet Union. On November 30, 1981, Israel’s Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and American Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), establishing a framework for cooperation to enhance the national security of both countries and to counter the Soviet threat. On December 18, 1981, the State Department announced the “suspension” of the memorandum in response to Israel annexing the Syrian Golan Heights.

In November 1983, Israel and the United States renewed the dialogue on bilateral strategic cooperation, forming a joint political-military committee to implement most of the 1981 MOU provisions. Joint air and sea military exercises commenced in June 1984, and the United States began constructing facilities to stockpile military equipment in Israel.

On May 6, 1986, Israel and the United States sign a secret agreement for Israeli participation in Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) research.

A 1988 U.S.-Israel agreement will designate Israel a “major non-NATO ally of the United States,” status which Israel has long sought and which will give Israel preferential treatment in bidding for Department of Defense contracts, as well as lower prices on U.S. defense equipment. On September 8, 1989, Israeli Defense Minister Rabin and U.S. Secretary of Defense Cheney will sign an agreement allowing Israel to “lease” U.S. equipment and pre-positioning up to $100 million worth of U.S. military supplies in Israel.

Under the Strategic Defense Initiative, Israel will develop the “Arrow” anti-ballistic missile and the “Iron Dome.”  (Congressional Research Service, Israeli-United States Relations, http://www.fas.org/man/crs/IB82008.pdf. )