178. Minutes of a Senior Review Group Meeting1


  • Middle East


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • U. Alexis Johnson
  • Joseph J. Sisco
  • Alfred L. Atherton
  • Ray Cline
  • Defense
  • David Packard
  • Armistead I. Selden
  • James S. Noyes
  • CIA
  • Richard Helms
  • JCS
  • Lt. Gen. Richard Knowles
  • Lt. Gen. Donald Bennett
  • NSC Staff
  • Col. Richard Kennedy
  • Harold Saunders
  • Jeanne W. Davis


It was agreed to:

1. prepare a statement including:

. . . the difference between the number of occupied sites as of August 10 and today;

. . . the difference between the number of operational sites on August 10 and today;

. . . the differences between the number of SAM–3 sites on August 22 and today;

. . . a general statement on the degree to which the system has been moved forward;

. . . our best judgment as to how the new equipment was probably introduced.

2. circulate the statement for clearance

3. issue the statement for internal use only as an agreed Government position to be followed by all concerned.2

[Page 609]

Mr. Kissinger: We want to look at the missile situation in the standstill zone and get a government-wide position in language which is not subject to Talmudic interpretation. This is a factual matter. We need to get our intelligence into a position where it guides and does not follow policy.

Mr. Helms read the briefing (text attached),3 referring to the bar graph and map.

Mr. Johnson: Is firing position a new term? Are these what we have been referring to as sites?

Mr. Helms: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: When you speak of the forward deployment of the sites creating some threat to Israeli aircraft operating on their side of the Canal, how far could the missiles penetrate?

Mr. Helms: Ten to twelve kilometers.

Mr. Kissinger: I have a paper here which indicates that the maximum range of the SAM envelop east of the Canal had not changed significantly since the cease-fire. What does that mean? Does it mean that they could reach across the Canal before the cease-fire?

General Bennett: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: How many missiles could reach across and how deep could they penetrate?

General Bennett: We don’t really know.

Mr. Kissinger: If the envelop itself hasn’t changed, then they must have shortened their range, if we can now say that there is no significant change even though so many more missiles are now in forward positions.

General Bennett: They had some on the Canal on August 7.

Mr. Packard: Also, the SAM–3 range is shorter than the SAM–2. The SAM–2 range is 30 miles and the SAM–3 is 12 miles.

Mr. Kissinger: I remember a briefing by Ray Cline before the cease-fire which indicated that the sites along the Canal were probably not operational.

Mr. Packard: On August 22, they had eight sites that could reach across the Canal.

Mr. Sisco: The Israelis told us on August 8 that none could reach across the Canal.

General Bennett: (Showing a map to Mr. Kissinger) You can see the envelop and the precise location of the sites better here.

[Page 610]

Mr. Kissinger: In early August we were told that these sites were not operational. However, if we are now saying that the envelop had not significantly changed, we must assume that they were operational.

General Bennett: What we are saying is that the Egyptians now have the same capability in the area.

Mr. Cline: There is no question that there are now many more missiles able to fire in the envelop so that there has been a definite change in the intensity of the coverage. What Mr. Kissinger remembers is that the Israelis had told us they thought the missile sites along the Canal were dummies since they had flown directly over them and had never been fired upon. Also, the Israeli photos suggested that there were eleven dummy sites in the forward zone. We carried these as occupied sites, however.

Mr. Kissinger: If the envelop hasn’t changed, the coverage within that envelop has intensified. Can we all agree on this?

All agreed.

Mr. Packard: There is no question that there are many new firing positions. However, we had only low resolution photography before August 10, and this was not good enough to fix the status with certainty. It was just not possible to tie these things down with absolute certainty.

Mr. Kissinger: We have two problems—what we tell ourselves and what we tell others. We must be sure that we are telling ourselves the truth.

Mr. Cline: There were no SAM–3s operational in the zone before the cease-fire. The interlocking of the SAM–2s and 3s in the zone has made it very tough.

Mr. Kissinger: Secretary Rogers has made a statement that the forward movement of the SAM–3s was not considered by the U.S. to be a defensive move.4 For a time the Soviets seem to have respected this and were hugging the 30 kilometer line with their missiles. Now their installations are well inside. They were, of course, not legally bound by the Secretary’s statement.

Mr. Packard: (to Mr. Helms) You mentioned the arrival of Soviet cargo ships in Alexandria. When did those ships come in?

Mr. Helms: Some time in August—I can get you the precise date.

Mr. Packard: I think that is a significant piece of information.

Mr. Kissinger: Does anyone disagree with Mr. Helms’ statement of the facts in his briefing?

[Page 611]

General Bennett: We have a minor difference relating to the number of sites on August 10. CIA uses a figure of 97 with 53 of these equipped. We classify 3 of those 97 as field deployed sites, and think the figure was really 94.

Mr. Sisco: Those 3 sites are crystal clear in the photographs however.

Mr. Packard: How many were occupied as of the cease-fire date?

General Bennett: As of August 10, we show 94 sites plus three field sites, with 56 occupied. CIA shows 97 sites with 53 occupied.

Mr. Cline: There is no disagreement on the facts, but we are using slightly different definitions of the categories.

Mr. Packard: There were 56 sites occupied on the cease-fire date. Now there are 55 to 65 sites occupied?

General Bennett: No, these are not in the same category. We are talking about the occupied and operational sites. There are now 108 sites, meaning sites with some missile-related equipment.

Mr. Sisco: We are relating 56 occupied sites on the cease-fire date to 108 occupied sites now. We are not relating 56 sites to 55 sites.

Mr. Packard: On August 10, there were 56 sites occupied, but not necessarily operational? Now there are 108 sites occupied?

General Bennett: We are all agreed on the 108 figure.

Mr. Packard: How many sites were operational on August 10?

Mr. Johnson: 15 to 25.

Mr. Sisco: And it is now 55 to 65.

General Bennett: We would go up to 69.

Mr. Kissinger: Am I correct that there were no SAM–3 sites operational on August 10 and that the largest increase has been in SAM–3 sites?

Mr. Packard: How hard is our evidence that there were no SAM–3 sites operational at the time of the cease-fire?

Mr. Cline: There were none operational a few days before the cease-fire. There may have been some units in place by August 10—possibly two. We tentatively identified five SAM–3 sites on August 10 which were occupied. As of now, there are 32 occupied SAM–3 sites. On August 10 somewhat less than those 5, possibly 2, were operational.

Mr. Kissinger: I remember the discussion at San Clemente as to how two operational sites could affect the strategic balance.5

Mr. Packard: What are our figures on operational SAM–3’s now?

[Page 612]

General Bennett: We say 15 to 31.

Mr. Helms: We are using 25 to 30.

General Knowles: The lower figure—the 15—are fully operational with 4 missiles to each site. The higher level—the 31—are somewhat less fully equipped possibly with one to three missiles. Fully equipped means that all essential elements are in place—radar, at least one launcher, etc.

Mr. Helms: A more significant time period might be from late August to late September, which was the period of our better photography. In late August, there were two operational SAM–3 units. In late September, there were 25 to 30.

Mr. Sisco: It would be even more significant if we went back to July.

General Bennett: As of July 28, there were five unoccupied SAM–3 sites but none were occupied.

Mr. Packard: What kind of missile was involved in the shoot-down of the four Israeli aircraft?

General Bennett: Probably SAM–2s.

Mr. Kissinger: Have the SAM–3s ever brought one down?

Mr. Sisco: The Israelis think there is a possibility that one was a SAM–3 but the other three were SAM–2s.

General Bennett: Both 2s and 3s were operational in the area at the time.

Mr. Kissinger: The Secretary of State has said publicly that there are sites in existence now where none were before; that there is missile equipment in the sites where no such equipment was before; and that there are operational missiles now in sites where no missiles were before. Is that an accurate reflection of the Secretary’s statement?

Mr. Sisco: The Secretary has said four things: (1) there are a number of instances where there had been nothing there and now new sites have been built; (2) there are a number of instances where our photography at the time of the cease-fire showed positions were in the process of construction, and these have now been completed; (3) there were a number of positions which had no missile equipment at the time of the cease-fire and now contain such equipment; and (4) there has been a general forward movement of SAMs closer to the Canal.

Mr. Kissinger: Does anyone disagree with these statements of the Secretary’s?

No one disagreed.

Mr. Kissinger: You can tell from the map that there has been an increase in SAM–3 sites. Also, the SAM–2 sites have increased and have been moved forward.

All agreed.

[Page 613]

Mr. Irwin: In the meeting between the Secretary and Riad in New York6 Riad used a date, acknowledging that after that date the Egyptians had gone full-speed ahead. He claimed that Israel had already violated the agreement and that the United States had said we were going to assist Israel, and that, therefore, after that time the Egyptians had moved ahead.

Mr. Sisco: Riad said this was September 3.

Mr. Irwin: Do any of our figures work between August 10 and September 3? Do we have a clear case of violation even if we should accept Riad’s statement as being true?

Mr. Cline: Yes. Between August 10 and August 27, three sites were built from scratch. By September 3, 14 additional sites had been started. In other words, there were about 15 sites built from scratch by September 3.

Mr. Kissinger: So we are talking about an increase in operational sites of 50, which means 200–300 missiles, assuming there are six missiles in a SAM–2 site and four in a SAM–3 site. Is it possible that they could have hidden 200–300 missiles plus the necessary supporting equipment in the standstill zone? We are agreed that no one saw them move, but could they have been moved at night? Even if they had been hidden in the zone, there would still be a violation of the cease-fire. Is this the only unsettled issue?

Mr. Cline: We did not make the question of movement part of our violation charge—we spoke only of new sites. I believe the CIA evidence, some of which is new, is fairly conclusive.

Mr. Sisco: We must distinguish between what we think and what we said. Does anyone here doubt that some missiles were moved into the zone after the cease-fire?

Mr. Packard: Have we carefully examined all the pictures for evidence of any hiding place in the zone?

Mr. Helms, Mr. Cline and General Bennett: Yes we have.

Mr. Cline: I think the better question is whether the Egyptian Army is up to moving that much equipment in 48 hours.

Mr. Sisco: I think Riad’s talk with the Secretary was significant. In the first place he said he was out of town and that when he returned and read the agreement, he considered it unfair. He claimed he would not have accepted the agreement had he been in town. He also claimed they hadn’t violated the agreement, but, even if they had, they had a right to do so to protect themselves. I consider his statement that they [Page 614] had a right to violate the agreement as an indirect acknowledgment that they did.

Mr. Kissinger: Let us get a statement of our agreement which will include: (1) the difference between the number of occupied sites as of August 10 and today; (2) the difference between the number of operational sites on August 10 and today; (3) the difference between the number of SAM–3 sites on August 22 and today; (4) a general statement on the degree to which the system has been moved forward; (5) our best judgment as to how the new equipment was probably introduced. This will be used for internal guidance only. I see no reason to call Riad a liar or to engage in any public confrontation with the Arabs. Let’s get this statement drafted and I will circulate it to all of you to be sure that it is an accurate reflection of your judgments. Then we can issue this as a Government position and ask everyone to follow this line.

  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; Codeword. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. No statement was found.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. See footnote 9, Document 177.
  5. Reference is presumably to the NSC meeting on the Middle East at San Clemente on September 1. See Document 156.
  6. See footnote 3, Document 169.