27. Editorial Note

In the first half of 1970, the Nixon administration continued to consider the sale of jet aircraft to Latin American countries. Regarding the administration’s deliberations on this issue in 1969, see Document 12. In response to a request by Argentina in September 1969 to purchase 32 subsonic, reconditioned A-4B Skyhawks, the Nixon administration agreed to sell 16 such planes. It was believed that the Argentine [Page 63] Government had the financial resources to purchase these planes for about $5 million, but if credit became an important issue, the administration would agree to finance the sale under the Military Assistance Program. The administration also authorized the sale of F-5 and A-4 aircraft to Brazil, Chile, and Colombia, if and when the governments requested them, and, as necessary, the provision of credit up to the legislative limit of $75 million for grants and sales of military equipment to individual Latin American countries. (Memorandum from Richardson to Nixon, February 2, 1970; NSDM 42, February 19; and memorandum from Richardson to Kissinger, February 20; all in the National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 73 D 288, Box 837, NSC/USC Memo)

In NSDM 46, March 5, President Nixon also agreed to waive the aid penalty provision in Section 119 of the Foreign Assistance Appropriation Act if Chile, Colombia, or Brazil decided to purchase A-4 or F-5 aircraft. NSDM 46 further asked the NSC Under Secretaries Committee to consult with Congress on the additional step of waiving the credit restrictions in the Foreign Military Sales Act, “to plan for and undertake a major effort to amend both Conte provisions appropriately so as to provide a permanent solution to the problems continually being raised by the restrictions,” and “to keep the President informed of what is being done.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 363, NSDMs 1-50)

The Committee reported nearly 4 months later that the consulted Senators and Congressmen generally approved the Argentine sale and agreed on sales with waivers to Colombia and Chile, but expressed “considerable concern” regarding possible sales to Brazil, which seemed interested in buying more modern, Mach-2 generation aircraft. Furthermore, “those who disapproved of a waiver for credit equally opposed the aid deduction waiver,” and conversely “those who favored or did not object to one waiver took the same attitude toward both.” (Memorandum from U. Alexis Johnson, Acting Chairman, to President Nixon, June 29; ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 83 D 276, NSC-U/DM 43) Peter Vaky of the NSC Staff had earlier argued that the sale of modern planes such as F-4s to any single Latin American country would cause serious problems with Congress, which had objected to such modern weapons sales to Latin America on the grounds the sales would stimulate an arms race and would be destabilizing. (Memorandum from Vaky to Kissinger, March 18; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 338, HAK/ELR Meetings 1/70-3/70)