336. Memorandum From Ernest Johnston of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Incremental Approach to the Kama River Project

The Soviets plan that the Kama River Truck Project will consist of six main production shops, described in the table below. The table also indicates the degree of technological complexity of each segment as well as Mack Truck Company estimates of costs.

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Segments of the Project Degree of Technological Mack Truck Estimates of Complexity Cost ($ millions)
Forging Plant relatively simple $20
Stamping Plant relatively simple 42
Tooling and Repair Plant Generally not complex, but needs some complex tools 20
Foundry Plant More complex 450
Assembly Plant More complex 250
Engine, gear and transmission plant Most technologically complex 600

At present three U.S. companies have filed applications for licenses and one company has indicated that it will file shortly:

Mack Truck—general technical services and equipment—$750

Swindell-Dressler—Foundry design—$13.5 million

C.E. Cast—Foundry equipment—$37 million (competitive with the above)

Bliss—Forging shop equipment—$23.4 million (application has not yet been filed)

It is possible to grant export licenses on an incremental basis, though very difficult to justify. We could for example indicate that we would now grant licenses for specific segments of the project, i.e. those of less technological complexity, but that we would consider later applications relating to the more complex elements. We could not under this approach grant the license for which the Mack Truck Company has now applied, since it covers the entire operation. We could, however, indicate to Mack that we would approve segments of its application relating to the approved parts of the project.

The advantages of such an approach would be that it permits a low silhouette for the U.S., allows us to graduate the extent of U.S. participation as the public becomes accustomed, and clearly shows we will at first restrain our cooperation to the less advanced parts of the project.

The disadvantages of the piecemeal approach are that: U.S. companies would be hindered from presenting bids for some segments until too late in the Russian plan; the legal national security justification for U.S. participation in one part of this massive truck factory but not in other parts would be weak; and the approach will discriminate against companies interested in the delayed segments.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, President’s Trip Files, Box 491, Dobrynin/HAK 1971, Volume 6, Part 1. Confidential. Kissinger wrote “Port Security” at the top of the page. Documentation on access of Soviet ships to American ports (and reciprocal access of American ships to Soviet ports) and security procedures to be followed when Soviet ships were in U.S. ports is ibid.