372. Memorandum From the Acting Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Samuels) to President Nixon1
- Sale of British Computers to the Soviet Union
Prime Minister Heath raised with you during his visit last December the British proposal to sell two large computers to the Institute of High Energy Physics at Serpukhov near Moscow.2 This matter has now been reviewed by the Under Secretaries Committee, following a technical study conducted by the Office of Science and Technology. The Committee’s report as well as the OST study are enclosed.3
The basic questions posed are 1) would the special safeguards proposed by the British be effective in reducing the risk of misuse of the computers to an acceptably low level, and 2) would approval seriously erode existing computer export controls or could this application be considered as constituting a unique case? The Committee could not agree on answers to these questions and the different views are given in the enclosed report.
The Committee was also unable to agree on recommendations with respect to the policy options. DOD, JCS, AEC, and STR recommend that we reaffirm our objection to the sale. Commerce favors reaffirmation of our objection; but, if your decision is to approve the transaction, believes that approval should be predicated upon prior acceptance by the three governments concerned of very explicitly articulated safeguards and procedures for implementing them. State, Treasury, OST, CEA, and USIA recommend that we lift our objection on condition that the UK agree to effective implementation of the proposed safeguards and to support continuation of tight controls on computers and technology at the next COCOM list review.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 81 D 309, NSC-U/SM 94C. Confidential. Transmitted to members of the Under Secretaries Committee under cover of a March 19 memorandum from Staff Director Hartman. Hartman also sent a copy to Peterson (CIEP). Several earlier drafts of the memorandum are ibid.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 369.↩
- The OST report is not printed; see footnote 3, Document 369.↩
- Confidential. An undated memorandum from Trezise to Samuels transmitted a draft of this USC report, which Trezise indicated was based on the OST report. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 73 D 288, NSC/USC Memos)↩
- Document 369.↩
- The U.S. will have available in the 1972-73 time frame a much larger accelerator (300 Gev) now under construction in Batavia, Illinois. However, it will be useful for Americans to have access to the Soviet machine even after the U.S. accelerator becomes available. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- OST notes in this regard that Dr. Ling, Chairman of the OST panel, in a subsequent conversation stated that this statement in the OST report is misleading outside of the context of the discussion which led to its inclusion and should preferably have been deleted from the final draft. The accurate statement summarizing the panel’s view is that a diversion of one-third of the computational capacity would be detectable to Westerners working at Serpukhov. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- Preliminary Report of the Computer Science and Engineering Board, National Academy of Sciences, September 22, 1969. OST notes that this report does not specifically refer to core dump analysis nor does it make an estimate of the man-years and costs involved in developing a methodology for core dump analysis. DOD has apparently taken the term “signature analysis” and equated it with core dump analysis. As OST understands the former term, it is a far more comprehensive effort designed to detect or distinguish any record, data or activity, which indicates unusual or unexpected operation of the system. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- None of the options is checked or initialed.↩