385. Letter From the Under Secretary of Commerce (Lynn) to the Acting Staff Director of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Weiss)1

Dear Mr. Weiss:

Your memorandum of November 24, 1972 sought our concurrence or views on the proposed report to the President on the review of the COCOM system required by NSDM 159, paragraph 4.2 We have examined the report thoroughly and find it acceptable in most respects. We do note that, as might be expected from a report which has been subjected to inter-agency negotiations and compromise for six months, it does not have as hard and clear a focus on some of the basic issues as we might have wished. There are, moreover, several specific matters which we would like to see modified. These are set forth below:


Regarding Option A: Maintaining an Effective COCOM System:

The present statement of the Commerce position in the second paragraph under this heading on page 7 (Chapter 1—Summary) is incorrect. Commerce believes that effective implementation of Sub-Options (1) and (4) could, indeed, be useful if tied to implementation of Sub-Option (C) (4) but feels strongly that the advantages from pursuing these Sub-Options would be maximized if the approaches to other governments were made at the outset of the next COCOM List Review which will probably occur in late 1973 or early 1974. Furthermore, Commerce believes consideration should be given to possible discussion of these problems with key COCOM governments at the same time that discussions are initiated with them on GATT issues. This tactical approach would, of course, require staffing out.

Commerce recommends, therefore, that the subject paragraph be modified, beginning with the 8th line, to refer to the Department of State only and that the following statement be included to reflect the Commerce view: “… the Department of Commerce believes that approaches to other member governments at an appropriate high level along the lines of Sub-Options (1) and (4) could be useful, provided that they are properly tied in with implementation of Sub-Option (C) (4) and the approaches are made at the outset of the next COCOM List Review rather than now or following the completion of such list review. The [Page 970] Department of Commerce also believes that the possibility of combining and/or coordinating negotiations on these two points with the next broad GATT negotiations with key COCOM countries should be examined and reported on in the immediate future.”3

Regarding Option B, Commerce recommends that:
Sub-Option (1) on page 14 be made more realistic by revising it to read as follows: “(1) Introduce a more formalized decision-making procedure, as described on pages 96 and 97 to facilitate the resolution of interagency differences on COCOM matters within a specified period of time.”4
Sub-Option (2) on page 15 be modified by removing the words “such” and “those” from the third line to reflect fully the intent of the Act.
Sub-Option (4) on page 16 should be revised by adding thereto the words “to the extent consistent with an effective enforcement mechanism.”5
Regarding Option C: Although Commerce staff officers accepted inclusion of the increased de minimis and servicing value levels in Sub-Option C (3), Commerce has now concluded that consideration of this Sub-Option should await further experience under the recently increased levels. In the Commerce view, there remains too much question as to the likely adverse strategic impact of further increase at this time. Therefore, Commerce should be dropped from support of this recommendation, and the second paragraph under Option C on page 8 of the Summary should be changed accordingly.6

I ask that the report to the President be modified to reflect the above views and suggestions.


James T. Lynn
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 83 D 305, NSDM 159. Secret. The letter is Tab C to a December 30 memorandum from Armstrong to Irwin; see footnote 1, Document 387.
  2. See Document 383 and footnote 1 thereto.
  3. Tab E to Armstrong’s December 30 memorandum to Irwin comprises replacement pages to the paper attached to Document 383 with this language, which became the third paragraph in Option A. The incomplete sentence that was paragraph 3 is dropped. The Department of State added the following footnote to the new Commerce Department language: “While the question of relating an approach to COCOM members on COCOM matters to discussions with them of GATT matters was not considered in the preparation of this study, State has serious reservations as to the utility of using the GATT channel for COCOM purposes.”
  4. The word “no” is written in the left margin next to this paragraph, and no replacement page 14 was provided.
  5. The note “ok” is written in the left margin next to this paragraph, and replacement pages 15 and 16 were provided. A footnote on the Commerce Department recommendation on page 16 indicates that the Defense Department did not concur.
  6. The note “p. 19” is written in the left margin next to this paragraph, and replacement pages 8 and 19 were provided.