In 1973, the refusal of the Portugese Government alongside America's traditional European allies to allow re-supply aircraft to land for refueling or even overfly their territory forced Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger to call off "Operation Nickel Grass" and advise Richard Nixon that he was unable to fulfill the President's executive order to "send everything that can fly" to the State of Israel.
Operation Nickel GrassSecretary of State Henry Kissinger had delayed crucial aid, wanting Israel to survive the war but to be sufficiently chastened by it that the leadership would be more willing to compromise with the major Arab states. Of course this deliberate policy of restraint had created a serious disagreement between the Secretaries of State and Defence because Kissinger was exhausting Schlesinger's vital contingency time. But time had run out as the military situation deteriorated much faster than either had expected.
In fact the Israeli Army was so dangerously close to running out of ammunition and weapons that Golda Meir was forced to authorize the assembly of thirteen 20-kiloton nuclear warheads on Jericho missiles and F-4s which were prepared for immediate action against Syrian and Egyptian targets.
That preparation had been immediately detected by both the superpowers, and having realised that Israel had grasped the nuclear option, Nixon finally decided it was high time to resupply. But even though the political maneuvering was complete, insurmountable logistical problems still remained.
With the Soviet Union about to intervene on the Arab side, the United States declared a higher level worldwide alert of its forces. Kissinger's miscalculation had brought the superpowers to the brink of the World War Three, and the issue was no longer the long-term survival of the State of Israel but rather the continuation of life on earth.