In 1973, on this day the Soviet Union prepared to ship four nuclear tactical weapons to Egypt just in case Israel resorted to the nuclear option one more time.
Time of The Diplomats by David AtwellKissinger had just arrived in Moscow. The talks which followed, though, clearly indicated that the Russians would get involved if Israel detonated any more nuclear weapons. Brezhnev never said what this involvement would be, but it was enough for Kissinger to know that several Soviet airborne divisions had been put on alert according to US atellite imaging. Clearly the Soviets were being serious as far as Kissinger was concerned. And this he conveyed to the Israelis the next day.
A Chapter from Hell on EarthBehind Kissinger's back, however, the Soviets were already involved. This would not have surprised Kissinger much, as it was already well known that the Syrians & Egyptians were using Soviet equipment. In fact the Americans also knew that there some 5 000 Soviet advisers in Egypt whilst Kissinger was in Moscow. What the Americans did not know, until the next morning, was the fact that the Soviets were prepared to ship four nuclear tactical weapons to Egypt just in case Israel resorted to the nuclear option one more time.
Thus, in these circumstances on 10th October, Kissinger arrived in Israel to try to do a deal with the Israeli's. Meir & Dayan were keen to met with Kissinger, but they were far more interested in getting American arms & not talk peace. Having said that, if Israel could regain lost territory, whilst not firing a shot in anger, this was completely acceptable to the Israeli Prime Minister. But one event would soon put this to an end. An American satellite, passing over Cairo that morning, spotted a Soviet Air Force cargo plane at Cairo's international airport. It was not, however, the plane which caught the American's attention, but the tell-tale radiation signs of its nuclear cargo.
News spread fast at the American Defence Intelligence Agency. Actually it went too fact. Although Israel would completely deny any such allegation, unlike the Soviets, the Israelis had been able to place a handful of spies high up the American military chain of command. Thus, not long after the discovery of the Soviet nuclear payload, word was sent to Israel. Thus, whilst Kissinger & Meir was discussing peace terms, which were acceptable to both, the war was about to escalate.
Thus, as a matter of course, the Israeli military viewed their attack on Cairo airport as a military & not a political decision. And this was besides the fact that, whilst it was known that Meir & Dayan were busy negotiating with Kissinger, it was likely that the Egyptians, & above all Soviets, would never expect such a outlandish attack.
Hence, at around midday Israel time on 10th October, a whole squadron of Skyhawks, escorted by a squadron of Mirage III fighters, left their air force base & headed out towards the Mediterranean Sea. From there the twenty Israeli planes turned to a course parallel to the coastline, all the while staying at a very low altitude. They did this until they were opposite the Nile Delta, off the coast of Egypt, & then turned inland heading directly towards Cairo. The Egyptians got about half a minute warning before the Israeli's attacked. But within a minute, the Soviet cargo plane, & its important cargo, was destroyed. The Israeli Air Force had done its job well, losing only two planes in the attack. Alas the Soviet reaction would be for the worse.
Read the whole story on the Alternate History web site