32. Memorandum From Marshall Wright of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Discontent of UN Members with Security in New York
As you know, we have had a new rash of security incidents at the UN. The Jewish Defense League program of harassing the Soviets was the most dramatic, but there have been others, such as a bomb planted in the UAR Mission and the telephone threat to the Hungarians.[Page 52]
Added to these have been some relatively minor incidents. The Spanish Permanent Representative got a probably well-deserved punch in the nose from a garbage collector, and the Lithuanians demonstrated peacefully against the Soviet Mission.
These actions have brought to a sharp focus the unhappiness among UN diplomats in New York. (The crime rate has been increasing, housing has become increasingly expensive and hard to get, services have been deteriorating, etc.)
On January 19, at the UN Committee on Host Country Relations, USUN reported a “bitter denunciation of the US and New York as host city which was very strong even for this hostile forum.” Many of the speakers alluded to the possibility of moving the UN from New York, and the Mission comments that, “Although much of the invective at this meeting was obviously political, we must face the fact that concern over the security situation is widespread and legitimate, and that even the closest friends of the US Government do not believe enough is being done. We urge that a search be made for long-term remedies through new federal legislation, legal steps against militant groups, and any other administrative steps.”
The full USUN report is attached at Tab A.2
In fact, additional federal legislation is already being considered at State and Justice.
You will recall that last fall we faced an upsurge of discontent with security in New York. After much thrashing around, we handled that problem with the temporary assignment to New York of elements of the Executive Protective Services (all of which have since been withdrawn). We also agreed to support legislation authorizing an ex gratia payment to New York and are still negotiating with City officials over the amount.
There is always the danger that sooner or later a dramatic incident will occur, perhaps involving the loss of human life. This would exacerbate the existing sentiment to move the UN from New York.
While a wholesale migration of the UN does not seem to me to be an imminent danger, there is certainly a possibility that some elements of the UN might relocate elsewhere, as the UN Industrial Development Organization, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development have already done.
I have asked Mel Levine to stay current with the problem and with discussions within the bureaucracy to ameliorate it. Given the nature of Fun City, I think we can count on this problem getting worse before [Page 53]it gets better—and I think there would be much logical merit in biting this bullet before it gets enough momentum to knock our teeth out. I doubt, however, that we will do so.