293. Memorandum for the Special Committee1


  • Status of Efforts To Curb the Flow of Arms to the Arab States and Israel
The Secretary raised the question of avoiding a spiral of arms deliveries to the area at the NATO Ministerial Meeting.2 In addition, we have raised the question with the British and French Governments; the British have stated a readiness to cooperate in curbing arms supply if, and only if, there were effective multilateral [Page 489] arrangements which were binding also on the Soviet Union.3 The French were completely noncommittal, professing that the problem need not be addressed until the dust settled, and did not even offer to support a position of restraint contingent upon agreement of the other major arms suppliers.4 The British have now shifted to a case-by-case consideration; the French have indicated that they will probably resume shipments; the Italians are presently holding to an embargo; and of course the Soviet Union is carrying forward a substantial program—at least for the short run—of supply of military equipment to the Arab States.
We instructed USUN to seek to introduce into the Security Council discussion through a neutral third party an appeal for notification to the Secretary General “in advance on a continuing basis of any arms shipment to any of the States that have engaged in the recent hostilities or have asserted a position of belligerency with respect to those hostilities.”5 However, such an appeal has not been made in the Security Council. There may be an opportunity to have this matter raised, and perhaps to float a recommendatory resolution, in the forthcoming General Assembly session.
On June 14, Ambassador Thompson expressed to Soviet Charge Chernyakov our concern that arms shipments to the Near East could lead to a renewed spiral in the arms race. He noted that the problem had both short and long term dimensions. Chernyakov acknowledged concern over this problem, but noted the pressures on the Soviet Union from the Arabs and the need to demonstrate Soviet support.
We recommend consideration be given to the position we should take on this subject with Premier Kosygin.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Committee, Special Committee Meetings. Secret. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. It is apparently the status report prepared in the Department of State cited on Walt Rostow’s agenda for the meeting. (Ibid., Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. VI)
  2. Rusk attended the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in LuxembouRG June 12–14. Telegram 477 from Luxembourg, June 14, summarizes his statement on the Middle East situation at the June 13 meeting. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, NATO 3 LUX (LU)) Documentation on his discussions at the meeting is ibid.; also ibid., Conference Files, 1966–1972, Entry 3051B, CF 186–194.
  3. Counselor of the British Embassy John E. Killick conveyed the British reply to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs Jeffery C. Kitchen. (Memorandum of conversation, June 13; ibid., Central Files 1967–69, DEF 12 NEAR E)
  4. Telegram 20111 from Paris, June 12, reported French views on this. (Ibid., POL 27 ARAB–ISR)
  5. Telegram 210839 to USUN, June 13, conveyed these instructions. (Ibid., DEF 12 NEAR E)