160. Minutes of an Ad Hoc Special Review Group Meeting1


  • Middle East


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • U. Alexis Johnson
  • Rodger P. Davies
  • Joseph J. Sisco
  • Defense
  • David Packard
  • Robert Pranger
  • CIA
  • Richard Helms
  • Thomas Karamessines
  • David Blee
  • JCS
  • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
  • LTG John W. Vogt
  • Attorney General John N. Mitchell
  • NSC Staff
  • Harold H. Saunders
  • Col. Richard T. Kennedy
  • Jeanne W. Davis


The Defense Department would:

1. provide a delivery schedule for the August 14 package of arms and equipment for Israel;2 and

2. put together an additional package of equipment for Israel, in response to the President’s request of September 43 with a brief statement of what it could accomplish, with the understanding that we may decide to recommend against such a package.

Mr. Kissinger: Can we review the non-hijacking aspects of the present situation,4 particularly two issues: (1) our choices with regard to various combinations of peace talks and a standstill cease-fire; and (2) the President’s request, made on Friday, that we prepare an immediate additional arms package for the Israelis. He had wanted to pro[Page 540]ceed immediately with a new package on Friday, but I suggested we put it through the SRG mechanism and get the views of some of his other advisers. However, we do owe the President a new package. We can put a negative recommendation on top of it if we wish, but we will have to say what we could do if the President should decide he wants to proceed with additional help to Israel.

Mr. Johnson: I assume this would be a larger package than the one already in train.

Mr. Kissinger: This is not completely clear. The President’s first reaction was to double the number of aircraft. I suggested that this might not be the thing that was needed and said we would see what kind of package would make sense in the circumstances. We owe him a package, although we can say what we like about the wisdom of it. We cannot not give him a package. It might be wise to return to the question of what strategy we are trying to implement rather than merely supply an indiscriminate list of items. The strategy approach might be a good vehicle in which to present the package and our recommendations to the President. (to Sisco) what do you think?

Mr. Sisco: The opening of the GA will give us an opportunity to talk to both the Egyptian and the Israeli Foreign Ministers. We have to try to make the standstill effective. This will involve what amounts to a renegotiation of the standstill cease-fire without characterizing it as such. This renegotiation will have to contain some if not all of the following elements: as a minimum, what the Israelis would consider at least a partial roll-back of the missile advance.

Mr. Kissinger: What does the U–2 photography this weekend show?

Mr. Sisco: It shows a tapering off but continued construction at five sites.

Mr. Helms: We believe the total number of sites has jumped from 106 to 111.

Mr. Saunders: But these photographs were taken before our démarche of last Thursday.5

Mr. Helms: Yes, these are Thursday’s photographs. We don’t yet have a read-out on this week’s photos.

Mr. Johnson: Construction at additional sites doesn’t necessarily mean additional missiles.

Mr. Helms: Let me give you the exact language because there are so many qualifications. (Reading)

[Page 541]

(We are getting the item so as to quote it exactly.)6

Mr. Mitchell: Do the Israelis have this information?

Mr. Sisco: No.

Mr. Kissinger: Am I right in reading this as a minimum increase of 13?

Mr. Helms: That is a fair estimate, although we won’t know for certain until we see the results of the latest photography.

Mr. Johnson: Is it fair to say that the September 3 photography showed, in gross terms, a leveling off in activity?

Adm. Moorer: We are talking about two different things. The Egyptians are talking about the number of missiles. We are talking about the number of sites. We will never agree on this basis. There is no question that they have increased their capability although, in strict terms, they may not have actually increased the number of missiles. They have certainly violated the spirit of the agreement if not the letter.

Mr. Kissinger: Is it correct to say that there has been an increase in occupied sites in a range between 7 and 20, and probably between 13 and 20?

Mr. Helms: Yes.

Mr. Sisco: The Egyptians say they have not brought in any additional missiles after the cease-fire began. While they could have done it in the first few hours after the cease-fire, it is possible that they already had some missiles somewhere nearby, possibly in storage, or at least not in these positions. We are in a bad position to disprove the Egyptian contention that they did not bring any missiles into the zone after the cease-fire. There is no question, however, that they have improved their position and increased their capability.

Mr. Mitchell: Wasn’t this the point of the agreement?

Mr. Kissinger: Under that interpretation, they could be building 50 new sites. We have no way to disprove their contention that they didn’t have to move them into the zone.

Mr. Sisco: I see three elements as a basis for renegotiation: (1) a partial roll-back of missiles; (2) a new categorical assurance from the Egyptians that they have not and will not introduce new missiles into the zone; (3) a commitment from the Egyptians that there will not be any movement of missiles within the zone.

The Chief of Israeli Intelligence, General Yariv, believes the Russians and Egyptians probably had a definite plan to distribute these missiles throughout the area by a creeping process. The cease-fire caught them on a short time fuse. You recall they asked for a 24-hour [Page 542] delay. The Israelis believe they had not completed their plan and needed a few more hours or days to put it into effect. Interestingly enough, they do not consider that Nasser went into the agreement in bad faith. If there is some roll-back and Nasser gives the two assurances concerning introduction of new missiles and movement of missiles within the zone, Nasser will probably ask for some assurance that the missiles will not be clobbered by the Israelis in a surprise attack. The US cannot guarantee the action of either side, but we can make it clear that there must be an agreement on a standstill if we are to have an agreement on a cease-fire. Both sides could then reaffirm their agreement. At the risk of seeming too optimistic, I think this is do-able over the next two weeks, since I am convinced no one wants the situation to blow up.

Mr. Packard: I agree with this reasoning.

Mr. Johnson: Dayan has invited this kind of approach.

Mr. Sisco: Referring to the proposed package on page 9 of the assistance paper,7 we cannot give the Israelis full satisfaction since we are not entirely sure what was there at the time of the cease-fire. We could tell them, however, that while we can only get this much of what they want, here is an additional arms package as compensation. This package does not leave them at any disadvantage. It is a very considerable compensation.

Mr. Packard: All evidence indicates that the missile movement was underway before the cease-fire. In present circumstances, the Israelis are better off now with the August 14 arms package.

Mr. Kissinger: But we have sold them that package three times.

Adm. Moorer: They should realize, also, that even if the missiles are withdrawn, it only takes a few hours to restore them.

Mr. Sisco: We must recognize, however, that this is a serious internal political problem for the Israelis.

Mr. Kissinger: Where does the August 14 package stand? Are the items moving?

Mr. Packard: All items are available within 90 days. They are moving.

Mr. Pranger: The contracts have just been signed, but there have been no deliveries as yet.

Mr. Johnson: But we are going ahead on the September planes.

Mr. Pranger: We will begin airshipping the material now that the contracts have been signed.

[Page 543]

Mr. Kissinger: In July, the President and the Secretary of State agreed to do something about getting Shrikes to the Israelis.8 During his recent conversation with Rabin, the President asked General Haig to make sure that the equipment moves.9

Mr. Packard: There are some problems, however—for example, they don’t have enough aircraft to deliver the Shrikes.

Mr. Kissinger: Could you give us a delivery schedule?

Mr. Mitchell: Have the Israelis complained about deliveries?

Mr. Sisco: Yes.

Mr. Pranger: There was no Defense Department commitment until the end of August.

Mr. Packard: We moved on the package the week after my August 14 discussion with Rabin.

Mr. Kissinger: But the President thinks he ordered it in early July. We do need a delivery schedule.

Mr. Packard: We are moving as fast as possible. You can’t just pull these items off the shelf.

Mr. Kissinger: Can we get a recommendation on any additional package? We can, of course, make a negative recommendation.

Mr. Packard: This package (the one attached to the Assistance paper in the book) might be enough. The limiting factors are the numbers of CBU–24s and Shrikes. We have given them 150 CBU–24s. Figuring conservatively, they may use four per site, thus enabling them to take out some 37 sites. Do we want to give them more CBUs? As many as would be required to take out 100 sites? There is another alternative—to give them some 175mm artillery which has a 32-kilometer range. This would give them superiority in artillery across the Canal which they could use to neutralize the nearer sites. Other than that, there isn’t much we can do.

Mr. Mitchell: Do we know what they have asked for?

Mr. Kissinger: Friday afternoon the President asked me to call Secretary Laird and tell him to double the package for Israel. I suggested he put the issue into this group.

Mr. Johnson: This could be a part of the philosophy to deter them from further moves in the zone.

Mr. Kissinger: It would both compensate Israel and warn the Egyptians that this is a losing game.

[Page 544]

Mr. Johnson: If the Egyptians level off their activity, and the present arms package leaves the Israelis in a favorable position, is there a need for an additional package?

Mr. Kissinger: I am prepared to put these considerations in a cover memorandum to the President, but we do owe him a package.

Mr. Packard: I don’t think we want to go all the way with Walleyes, etc. We could, however, double the number of missile sites they could handle for about $2 million.

Mr. Sisco: This would be Option 1 on page 5 of the paper. I had understood the number of weapons in the anti-SAM package was minimal in their capacity to suppress missile sites.

Mr. Saunders: They could suppress from 6–10 sites.

Mr. Kissinger: What good are 6–10 sites?

Mr. Packard: That package contains enough ammunition for 35–70 sites, depending on how many are used per site.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you mean 6–10 sites at one time?

Mr. Packard: I mean the number of sites that could be suppressed while you are attacking them. They wouldn’t take on 100 sites at once. It would be 6–10 sites in one successful mission.

Adm. Moorer: They would need more for a continuous attrition operation.

Mr. Sisco: If they could take out 6 on one mission, a capacity for one mission is not enough. How much more would they have?

Mr. Packard: Assuming it takes 4 CBUs per site, they would have enough for 37 sites.

Mr. Pranger: The 6–10 figure was used originally because the Israelis said they wanted a one-time capability to suppress the sites around Ismailia. The number was decided on the basis of a one-time strike on sites within the normal bombing range. Now the Israelis do not think this is sufficient.

Mr. Packard: The current package contains many more CBU’s than they would need for one strike.

(Mr. Kissinger left the room)

Mr. Pranger: We were very generous for a one-time strike. To double the amounts would give them more than double the capacity.

Mr. Packard: That would be awfully generous.

Mr. Johnson: We are talking about what they could do in one operation.

Mr. Pranger: The figures taken for the planning factor were well above what they would need for 6–10 strikes.

Mr. Packard: (to Mr. Johnson) Let me draw you a picture of the way they could use the elements in the special equipment package and [Page 545] the way in which it would provide them with additional capability. (In an across-the-table conversation with Mr. Johnson, Mr. Packard drew a diagram and described the sequence of an attack. The description was too cryptic to follow without the diagram.)

(Mr. Kissinger returned)

Mr. Packard: The number of sites that could be suppressed is determined by the number of missions flown. They don’t have enough planes to attack 100 sites at one time. If we double the number of CBU’s and Shrikes, that should be all they need.

Mr. Kissinger: Could we have a package by tomorrow morning, with a brief statement of what it would accomplish. We will then move it to the President.

Mr. Sisco: We should understand the political and psychological aspects of this package—it would be compensation to Israel in a situation where we cannot fulfill the standstill requirement adequately from the Israeli point of view.

Mr. Kissinger: We should meet again tomorrow10 on this subject—we can tack the discussion onto the next meeting of this group.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, Senior Review Group, SRG Minutes Originals 1970. Top Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Israeli and U.S. officials, including Rabin and Packard, discussed the details of the arms package at an August 14 meeting in the Deputy Secretary’s office. (Washington National Records Center, ISA Files: FRC 330–73A–1975, Box 20, Israel) The package was approved at the August 12 SRG meeting; see Document 150. The delivery schedule was not found.
  3. Not found.
  4. On September 6, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked the first of four aircraft; see Document 161.
  5. September 3; see Document 158 and footnote 2 thereto.
  6. No quote was inserted in the minutes.
  7. See footnote 4, Document 153.
  8. Not found.
  9. See Document 151.
  10. The Ad Hoc Special Review Group did not meet on September 9.