83. Minutes of a Review Group Meeting1


  • Persian Gulf


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State—Richard F. Pedersen
  • Donald McHenry
  • Christopher Van Hollen
  • Defense—Robert Pranger
  • JCSLt. Gen. F. T. Unger
  • CIA—Edward Proctor
  • OEP—Haakon Lindjord
  • USIA—Frank Shakespeare
  • NSC Staff—Harold Saunders
  • Peter Rodman
  • Jeanne W. Davis


The Under Secretaries Committee would be asked to develop within the next four weeks a blueprint for an optimum American presence in the Gulf in terms of diplomatic establishments, economic and cultural programs, etc.2
A memorandum to the President would be prepared, giving the consensus in favor of continuing Option 3 and moving to Option 4 at an appropriate time and containing the USC blueprint.3
[Page 266]

Mr. Kissinger opened the meeting referring to the number of options4 as equally plausible for consideration by the President. He questioned whether the likelihood of our assuming the UK role in the Persian Gulf (Option 1) was as great as some of the other options.

Mr. Van Hollen agreed it was not.

Mr. Kissinger asked for any general reactions to the paper.

Mr. Shakespeare commented on the statement that 90 percent of Japan’s oil comes from the Persian Gulf. Given Japan’s status as the third industrial power, he thought the security of their oil supply must be of major interest to the Japanese. He asked if we had discussed this with the Japanese in relation to a possible role for them in the Gulf.

Mr. Van Hollen said that we had asked our posts in Western Europe and Japan if the various countries might join a consortium and through it participate in technical assistance in the Gulf area.

Mr. Shakespeare asked if Japan were now involved in aid in Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Saunders replied they have commercial interests, with some small companies involved in oil exploration in a minor way.

Mr. Shakespeare asked if Japan has a ready alternate source of supply if their Persian Gulf pipeline should be threatened.

Mr. Van Hollen replied they could obtain oil from Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the U.S. West Coast, but he did not know how “ready” those alternates would be.

Mr. Pedersen agreed that any Japanese interest in the Persian Gulf would be helpful.

Mr. Saunders asked if, in fact, there would be a threat to Japanese oil. He thought a radical regime might well cut off oil flow to the West, but not necessarily to Japan.

Mr. Shakespeare commented that Japan should, however, be interested in what happens in the Gulf.

Mr. Van Hollen agreed, and said we had not talked to them in terms of greater Japanese involvement.

Mr. Saunders noted there might be a cultural problem between the Arabs and the Japanese and that they might wish to stick to a straight technical, commercial relationship.

[Page 267]

Mr. Lindjord said in previous conversations with the Japanese they had seemed most aware of their Persian Gulf lifeline.

Mr. Kissinger asked if we recognized the importance of the Persian Gulf to Japan, then what?

Mr. Shakespeare replied that Japan was becoming a super power. Within the next five to ten years Japan’s interests in the Gulf might be greater than ours. He thought Japan would have to be concerned with what happened in the Gulf and, for this reason, we might wish to try to involve their aid in the area.

Mr. Pedersen agreed this should be put on the agenda for talks with the Japanese.

Mr. Van Hollen added that they might provide technical assistance to the Federation of Arab Emirates if it should come into being.

Mr. Shakespeare thought there would be a psychological factor if the Soviets felt Japan was interested in and was a part of a program in the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Kissinger asked for other general comments.

Mr. Lindjord questioned whether the residual role of the British after 1971 was adequately stated. He wondered if considerable British influence would not remain.

Mr. Van Hollen agreed that some of the sheiks would undoubtedly work out side deals with the British and that many British officials would stay in the area.

General Unger referred to the British role in arms sales. He also said the British plan to retain a battle group and a staging area on Masirah Island. He agreed with Mr. Kissinger that British withdrawal was not for financial reasons.

Mr. Pedersen noted that the basic paper needed updating in several places—specifically, the fact that the Bahrain issue had now been settled.

Mr. Kissinger referred to the six options in the paper saying he assumed we could eliminate Option 1. He thought Option 4 was something we would have to do in any case and did not consider it exclusive in relation to the other options. He thought Option 5 will be unnecessary with the various states becoming independent.

Mr. Pedersen saw some difference between Options 4 and 5, with 4 being more active.

Mr. Kissinger said that neither 4 or 5 was incompatible with Options 2 or 3.

Mr. Pedersen agreed that they were not incompatible with any of the options and that we were now operating roughly along the lines of Option 3.

[Page 268]

Mr. Kissinger asked if Options 2, 3 and 6 are viable options.

Mr. Van Hollen said State would choose to continue Option 3 and take on Option 4 at an appropriate time.

General Unger said the JCS agreed with that view.

Mr. Van Hollen added, with regard to Option 4, that much would depend on whether and how the Federation of Arab Emirates works out.

Mr. Shakespeare asked if State objected to Option 6.

Mr. Van Hollen replied they would not object if the regional pact were indigenous. He noted, however, that Gene Rostow had hinted at such an arrangement a few years ago and there had been a strong negative reaction in the area to such U.S. “interference.”

Mr. Shakespeare asked if NATO was helpless in this area, commenting that so many NATO members have a stake there.

Mr. Van Hollen said a NATO role would not be possible, noting that the Scandinavian countries and Canada were strongly opposed to extending the NATO commitment.

Mr. Kissinger asked, assuming general agreement on strategy along the lines of Options 3 and 4, what kind of a presence could the U.S. have with our present program. He suggested we prepare a blueprint of what the optimum American presence would be in terms of establishment of embassies, economic and cultural programs, etc. He believed we could take this issue to the President in a memorandum and we would not need an NSC meeting on the subject.

Mr. Pedersen suggested the Under Secretaries Committee might be asked to prepare the blueprint.

Mr. Shakespeare noted the poor communications in the area, saying that the VOA signal was only marginal while the BBC was very strong. He said he would wish to have the construction of a transmitter included in such a program.

Mr. Kissinger suggested that we ask the Under Secretaries Committee to work out this optimum plan within the next four weeks, with a view to presenting a memorandum to the President in early July.

Mr. Pedersen agreed.

Mr. Saunders said that the memorandum to the President would summarize the consensus of the agencies.

Mr. Shakespeare agreed, but asked if the program would contain recommendations on the future of MIDEASTFOR.

Mr. Kissinger said this would be included in the program. He asked Mr. Saunders to draft a directive to the Under Secretaries Committee to prepare the blueprint.

Mr. Lindjord asked the status of proposed facilities at Diego Garcia to support MIDEASTFOR.

[Page 269]

Mr. Van Hollen replied that the issue was still pending and that Senator Mansfield was opposed.5

Mr. Pranger commented that almost $16 million had been included in the Navy budget for these facilities.

(General Unger circulated at the table some proposed minor changes in the paper. Mr. Proctor submitted after the meeting some additional proposed changes and indicated that he had several nitpicks above and beyond these changes.)6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, Senior Review Group, SRG Minutes Originals 1970. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. A June 3 memorandum from Saunders and Kennedy briefed Kissinger for the meeting. The following day they provided talking points. (Both ibid.)
  2. The “Blueprint of an Optimum U.S. Presence in the Persian Gulf,” July 30, stated that the area was too wealthy for U.S. assistance but backward enough to need its technical capability. An active U.S. presence without central responsibility for area security required a diplomatic establishment, a small naval force, a substantial educational and technical relationship, and U.S. business presence. The paper also detailed logistical and operational options for future U.S. Embassies in the Persian Gulf. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 1248, Saunders Files, NSSM 66—NSDM 92—Persian Gulf)
  3. See Document 89.
  4. For a summary of the basic paper the Review Group discussed, see Document 82. Sisco transmitted the final version of the basic paper, “Future U.S. Policy in the Persian Gulf,” to Kissinger on July 30. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–165, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 66)
  5. See Document 39.
  6. Changes proposed by the JCS are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, Senior Review Group, SRG Minutes Originals 1970. Proposed CIA changes, June 5, are ibid., Box H–046, Senior Review Group Meetings, Senior Review Group Persian Gulf 6/5/70.