182. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mann) to the Secretary of State 1


  • National Security Council Consideration of Draft Policy Statement on the subject “United States Civil Aviation Policy toward the Sino-Soviet Bloc” (NSC 5726 November 22, 19572)


Major Aspects: The revised policy proposed in NSC 5726 reaffirms the long-range United States objective of seeking to promote the safe and orderly development of international air transportation on the basis of reciprocal rights and the broadest freedom consistent with national security and sound economic principles. The attainment of this objective requires that entry of the USSR and the European Satellites into international air routes of the Free World be consistent with Free World security and with fundamental principles commonly followed throughout the Free World. NSC 5726 thus proposes that United States civil aviation relations with the USSR and European Satellites be based on certain conditions: e.g., that appropriate steps be taken to guard United States internal security; that the rights and privileges granted to the USSR and European Satellites are not more favorable than those granted by the United States to Free World states or greater than those received from the Soviet Bloc; and that any air transport agreement with the USSR and European Satellites be based insofar as possible on the principles and practices as set forth in the multilateral civil aviation conventions and arrangements, and the bilateral air transport agreements, generally accepted throughout the Free World. NSC 5726 also proposes that the United States seek to persuade appropriate Free World states to adhere to similar standards in their dealings with the USSR, or failing this to insist that any agreement or arrangement with that country be fully reciprocal. Where complete reciprocity with European Satellites (as distinguished from the USSR) cannot be obtained, NSC 5726 provides sufficient flexibility to permit arrangements under somewhat less restrictive terms. Additional objectives of the proposed policy are the prevention of international air traffic between the Free World and Communist China, North Korea and [Page 489] North Vietnam, and the restriction to a minimum of civil aviation operations by airlines of the USSR and European Satellites in critical areas of the Near East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Finally, NSC 5726 would permit consideration under existing export controls, on a case-by-case basis as required to carry out the objectives of this policy, of the sale of aviation safety equipment to the USSR, and of civil aircraft and aeronautical equipment to selected European Satellites.
Previous Policy and Reasons for Proposed Changes: The ultimate objective of the policy under revision (NSC 15/3 adopted in 1950)3 does not differ from that proposed in NSC 5726. However, as the USSR had consistently rebuffed Western efforts to regularize air transport relations in the early post-war period and did not appear likely to permit scheduled services over Soviet territory by airlines of countries outside the Soviet orbit, NSC 15/3 dealt largely with air services between Western countries and the Soviet Satellites, calling for such services only when it was clear that the balance of advantage from a given exchange would lie with the Free World country concerned. NSC 15/3 also continued a ban on sales of aircraft and associated equipment to Soviet and Satellite agencies, and denied Satellite aircraft all but the minimum facilities necessary for operation outside Satellite territory.

The USSR is now strongly interested in extending its air routes, and has exhibited willingness to open its territory to non-Satellite aircraft in order to obtain desired rights in Free World countries. Recent Soviet accomplishments in the production and utilization of modern civil aircraft have demonstrated the USSR’s capability of challenging Western civil aviation leadership. Moreover, West European governments are demonstrating increased eagerness to expand their aviation relations with the USSR and European Satellites. Their individual efforts to this end could have serious effect on United States objectives in international civil aviation unless channeled into a common course of action which will eventually induce the USSR and the European Satellites to enter the international civil aviation community on terms acceptable to the majority of its members.

Recommendation 4

That you support the statement of policy (NSC 5726) attached as Tab A.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5726 Series. Secret.
  2. Not printed. Initially drafted in the Department of State and revised by the NSC Planning Board, but not adopted.
  3. NSC 15/3, “U.S. Civil Aviation Policy Toward the USSR and Its Satellites,” January 5, 1950, was approved by the President on January 6; see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 1.
  4. The following offices concurred in the recommendation: EUR, FE, NEA, ARA, SCA, and P/EWC.