S/S–NSC Files, Lot 63 D 351, NSC 15 Series

The Under Secretary of State (Webb) to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Souers)


My Dear Mr. Souers: I am transmitting to you herewith for consideration by the National Security Council recommendations of the Department of State for the modification of our civil aviation policy toward the USSR and its satellites.1

Since the approval by the National Security Council in July 1948 of our present policy (NSC 15/1) this Department has made every feasible effort to implement this policy. We have been successful in denying the sale and export of aircraft and associated aviation equipment to the USSR and its satellites and, with the cooperation of the countries involved, have succeeded in blocking the civil air operations of the USSR and its satellites to the Near Eastern, South Asian, and African area. We have been unable, however, to obtain the wholehearted cooperation of … Western European countries in fully implementing the air operations aspects of this policy in Western Europe. Confronted with the alternatives of exerting heavier pressure … or to reappraise our own position, we requested the Department of Defense on June 1, 19492 to secure the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concerning the extent to which military security factors justify further intensified efforts to implement the air operations aspect of our present policy in Western Europe.

In its reply dated July 20, 19493 the Department of Defense informed us that the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that we should continue our multilateral effort to prevent the sale of aircraft and aviation equipment to the USSR and its satellites but that there are military advantages to be gained by such civil air penetration as may be arranged through bilateral agreements on a reciprocal basis, i.e., the granting of landing rights in non-curtain states, including the United [Page 221] States, to satellite air carriers in exchange for similar landing rights in satellite territory. In the light of these views of our military authorities this Department has undertaken a thorough review of this policy problem and has concluded that our present policy should be modified as indicated in the attached paper.

Although this Department is recommending, in line with current Joint Chiefs of Staff views, that the National Security Council approve a course of action which would permit efforts under certain conditions to effect civil air penetration of satellite territory, we do not, however, believe that a balance of advantage in terms of United States objectives would at the present time result from any reciprocal exchange of civil air services between the satellite states and the countries in the Near Eastern, South Asian, and African area. If the proposed new policy is approved by the National Security Council, this Department would, in implementing this policy, make it clear to the countries of that area that the United States believes they should continue to block civil air operations of satellite air carriers to any point in that region. It is my understanding that the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that continued “containment” of satellite civil air operations in the Near East, South Asian, and African area is required in our national interest.

I will appreciate your making every appropriate effort to have the attached paper considered by the National Security Council at its meeting on January 5, 1950.

Sincerely yours,

James E. Webb
  1. See editorial note, infra.
  2. See ante, p. 204.
  3. Ante, p. 206.