5. Memorandum From William Watts of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • UN Building Expansion

The question of our monetary support for expansion of the UN building facilities in New York City is now an urgent issue, since we have been informed that U Thant may raise it with the President when they meet Thursday.

Just after the decision had been taken to move ahead in getting State to redraft letters from the President to leaders on the Hill concerning [Page 8]Administration willingness to support this expansion to the tune of $15 million, the President announced the 75% cut back on federal building expenditures. Given the highly volatile prospects as to how a major commitment for international buildings would sit with Congress and many private citizens in view of the President’s cut back order, I felt we must reopen the issue with Budget to see what kind of guidelines they were coming up with.

The Director of the International Division in Budget said this was indeed a major topic of concern there and he discussed the matter with Director Mayo. Mayo in turn has written a memo to the President (included in the attached package), which focuses on the possible political implications of this construction.2

A memo from you to John Ehrlichman stating that you see no overriding foreign policy reasons to oppose construction, but deferring to his judgment as to the domestic and political implications is also attached. This gets the issue back into the proper arena for the President’s decision, since the most difficult decision he may have to deal with on this is domestic and not foreign.

Recommendation: That you sign the memo attached.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 291, Agency Files, USUN. No classification marking. Sent for action.
  2. Attached but not printed. In his May 16 memorandum, Mayo observed that even though expansion of the UN Headquarters would be funded by a matching grant rather than by a “direct Federal construction” project, authorization would be politically sensitive among Congressmen and Governors who faced cutbacks in public works projects.
  3. Attached but not printed. In this September 17 memorandum, Kissinger wrote: “My judgment remains that there is no reason to oppose State’s proposal on foreign policy grounds. But the construction hold-back does put a new domestic light on the matter. Therefore, I would appreciate your carrying the matter through for Presidential decision.” Reference is to President Nixon’s statement on the construction industry, issued at San Clemente on September 4, in which he directed all Federal agencies to implement a 75 percent reduction in new construction contracts, urged state and local governments to make similar reductions, and urged businessmen to postpone non-essential construction projects so that the construction industry could devote more time and effort to building more homes. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 706–707)