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224. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Transfer of Two Submarines to Taiwan

At Tab A is a CNO message sent April 26 about noon to Chief MAAG Taipei approving the sale of two submarines to the Republic of China (ROC).2

So far as we know, this message does not have a White House clearance. If this is so, CNO’s action would be contrary to (a) General Haig’s memorandum of October 21, 19713 asking DOD to obtain your clearance on the transfer of all major items of military equipment to [Page 893]the ROC; and (b) Jeanne Davis’ request last week that State and DOD send a joint memorandum to you or the President on the transfer of submarines to the ROC.

State has asked Embassy Taipei to hold up notifying the ROC until we have sorted this matter out here.

State cleared the CNO message in draft on the explicit understanding that DOD would obtain General Haig’s clearance.

The CNO message also leaves unanswered the following questions:

  • —Why two, rather than one, submarines must be transferred to the ROC.
  • —Why the torpedo tubes and other equipment giving the subs an offensive potential are apparently not being removed. The subs are to be used only for anti-submarine warfare training. Thus, if we are going to transfer the craft, we would at least reduce the political irritation to Peking by being able to argue that the subs have virtually no offensive potential.
  • —Why the craft are being sold to the ROC for scrap value (of about $150,000 apiece) rather than for their much higher current value.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. X. Secret. Sent for information. Sent through Haig. Kissinger’s handwritten comment at the top of this memorandum reads: “What are the answers to these questions? Zumwalt freewheels too much.”
  2. Attached but not printed is CNO telegram 2617242 to CHMAAG Taipei, April 26.
  3. Document 160.
  4. In an April 29 memorandum from Holdridge, Haig indicated that he did not authorize the CNO’s message but wrote: “Go ahead w/transfer per HAKLaird discussion.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 523, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. X) However, in a May 11 memorandum to Haig, Holdridge requested guidance on the three questions raised in his April 28 memorandum. He asked if only one submarine should be transferred. Haig wrote on this memorandum: “None— for now. Raise only after S.E. Asia clarifys.” (Ibid.) On May 16 Haig sent a memorandum to Eliot and Pursley that reads in its entirety: “We are aware of the wish of the Republic of China to have its submarine crew now training at the New London Naval Base begin training on the Republic’s own submarine at the mid-point of the course. However, it is desired that no offer to transfer one or more submarines to the Republic of China be extended at this time.” (Ibid.)