98. Minutes of Senior Review Group Meeting1


  • Israeli Resupply (NSSM 207)


  • Chairman
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Robert Ingersoll
  • Sidney Sober
  • Thomas Stern
  • DOD
  • William Clements
  • Robert Ellsworth
  • James H. Noyes
  • CIA
  • LTG Vernon A. Walters
  • [name not declassified]
  • JCS
  • LTG John W. Pauly
  • NSC
  • LTG Brent Scowcroft
  • Harold Saunders
  • Col. Clinton Granger
  • James Barnum


It was agreed that:

CIA would do an estimate of French capabilities to supply arms to the Arab countries over the next five years;

—Defense would determine what the maximum amount of equipment the U.S. could provide under the Israeli “Urgent List”, the strategic implications thereof; and how such a list is to be funded.

[Page 412]

Secretary Kissinger: The subject of today’s meeting is Israeli Resupply.2 I want to follow this meeting with a short discussion on SALT. I want to give you some idea of what the President wants on SALT. Dick (General Walters), you look like you have a briefing ready to go.

Gen. Walters: began to brief from the attached.3

Secretary Kissinger: Are you going to talk about Matmon A4 also?

Gen. Walters: No, we are looking only at Matmon B.

Secretary Kissinger: Then history will never know what Matmon A is.

Gen. Walters: That’s right. (continued to brief).

Secretary Kissinger: What does that assessment have to do with Matmon B? (in reference to a statement in the briefing that the Israelis claim that any withdrawal from the occupied Arab lands would be regarded as a sign of Israeli weakness, inviting further pressures or attacks.)

Gen. Walters: Well, that they would need the weapons.

Secretary Kissinger: If they withdraw, they will want more than what is provided for in Matmon B.

Amb. Ellsworth: Actually, withdrawal has not been discussed. This is just an assumption of why they are asking for so much in Matmon B.

Gen. Walters: Yes, this is their assumption, that if they would withdraw, that would be perceived in the Arab world as a sign of weakness. (continued to brief.)

Secretary Kissinger: On all four fronts? (in reference to a statement that the next Middle East war will be fought simultaneously on all fronts with all the Arab states.) You mean Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan would join in? What is your projection of Jordan’s contribution?

Gen. Walters: They would join in, probably after it started. (continued to brief.)

Secretary Kissinger: Are they assuming that Jordan would be getting additional military deliveries?

[2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: I’m just testing the assumptions. Can France really supply weapons of that scale? [2 lines not declassified]

[Page 413]

Mr. Clements: Yes, Henry, I think they can. Whether they will or not is a question, but my point is that they could devise a program where they could build more, if they wanted to.

Secretary Kissinger: There must be some give-way in the French program. There must be an upper limit to what they can produce and supply. Can we get a paper done on French arms capability?

Gen. Walters: Sure, we can do a paper.

Secretary Kissinger: I want to know the limits of what they can do.

Gen. Walters: We’ll do the paper. (finished the briefing.)

[4 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: Well, we’ll have an NSC Meeting on this a week from tomorrow:5 Dick (Gen. Walters) in your briefing, present first what the Israelis are asking for, [less than 1 line not declassified]. The President does not know what the Israelis are asking for. Keep it simple so that he can understand it. [2 lines not declassified] Also state that that has the following financial implications. Do this in about a five or ten minute briefing. I don’t want to make it a long briefing.

Mr. Clements: Dick (Gen. Walters) I think it has to be done in broad terms, not a lot of detail.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, that’s right. Do it in division levels, the number of tanks, etc. On the chart, show what the balance of forces was as of October 6, 1973, and then the balance as of today. Then, show what the Israeli request is and an analysis of its validity. The decision that we want to get out of the NSC Meeting is not specific approval of each little item, but the overall concept. The President has to focus on the magnitude of the overall request, not on every little item.

Mr. Clements: Henry, I think you also need a third chart that would put the balance of payments problem in perspective. We need to put a dollar sign on those items.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, that should also be part of the presentation. I don’t want to pick the Israeli’s case apart, just show what is involved. You (Gen. Walters) can present their case, and then what it means financially.

Gen. Walters: Treasury will want to present the impact of the request on the Israeli economy at the NSC Meeting.

Amb. Ellsworth: That program represents 40% of their GNP!

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t want endless nit-picking on the request. I just want to be helpful to the President so that he will understand it. I think we should present as good a case for the Israelis as we can. That doesn’t change the conclusions.

[Page 414]

Gen. Walters: Treasury will make their point at the NSC Meeting.

Amb. Ellsworth: We still have made no reference in the interagency study to the fiscal impact this will have on our own budget process.

Secretary Kissinger: We’ll (Gen. Scowcroft) work with you on the briefing, Dick. Even if the President goes along with all of Matmon B, we’ll face some difficult decision in the future. If we announce today that we are giving $40 billion to the Israelis, (King) Faisal would stop asking me to visit him.

Let’s talk substance now. What I want to do is get a manageable program forwarded to the President for decision. What is our estimate of the situation? Can we, and do we want to, underwrite the whole Matmon B package? What are the implications of the $1 billion Urgent List?6 Suppose we don’t underwrite anything? What is our concept of the diplomatic processes involved? How can we implement the package diplomatically?

Mr. Clements: Henry, I understand your problem. But, we need to know what you want to do. We need some guidance from you on this thing. If you’ll tell us what you want to do, then we can go from there. We intend to back you to the hilt—do everything we can to help you, but we need to know first what you want to do.

Secretary Kissinger: I need to get the package first. What are the strategic implications of opposing the $1 billion package now? What will this do to the $1 billion package now? What will this do to the Israeli forces?

Mr. Clements: Well, it can do two or three things. They need that priority list first. But, it’s impossible to get it to them by April as they have asked. It’s just impossible.

Secretary Kissinger: You can if you want to take it away from our own forces.

Mr. Clements: No you can’t, because some of it doesn’t even exist.

Secretary Kissinger: Then we need to know what is the maximum you can do for them. We need to know: (1) what is the maximum under the $1 billion package you could deliver; (2) what is the strategic impact of $1 billion of equipment if delivered by April and what are the future implications? Say, for example we approve a package of $750 million. How are they going to pay for it? Will this mean another grant?

Mr. Stern: Their assumption is that is has already begun under foreign military assistance.

Mr. Noyes: Some of the equipment included in the “Urgent List” has already been funded.

[Page 415]

Secretary Kissinger: Well, what we need is this: (1) what is the maximum amount of equipment we could deliver under the “Urgent List”; (2) what are the strategic implications of such a list; and (3) how is it going to be funded? If we can’t supply what they want, will they ask for $300 million more? $500 million more? If it takes $500 million, that’s a fact we’ll have to face.

Amb. Ellsworth: You already have a break down on the “Urgent List.” (reads from the “Urgent List.”)

Secretary Kissinger: My question is, what will the impact of these items be versus the Arab forces by next April?

Mr. Clements: Henry, the way I read this—what comes out of this in the short term—is that the Israelis are trying to relieve themselves from the logistical supply problems like we had in the October war. I think they really want a stockpile, and don’t want to have to depend on us for logistic supply the next time.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, if this is true, it has profound political implications.

Mr. Clements: I think that is exactly what they are trying to do. They want to relieve themselves of logistical supply problems.

Secretary Kissinger: I also want to know what effect such a decision would have on Israeli forces.

Gen. Pauly: Under Option 1D in the interagency paper it tells what the “Urgent List” would do. It tells in gross terms what that would do to the Israeli force structure.

Mr. Clements: There is just no question in my mind that the Israelis are trying to relieve themselves of supply problems in the event of another war. Granting them the “Urgent List” would also reduce your leverage in another conflict.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s true.

Mr. Clements: There is no question in my mind but that is what they want to do.

Secretary Kissinger: The question is, can we make an assessment of Israeli motives for the “Urgent List.” Is the military balance of power shifting? Do they believe they will need that equipment in 1975, or do they have some other purpose in mind? If there is a real, immediate threat, that requires one decision. If they want the equipment only for stockpiling, that requires another decision.

Amb. Ellsworth: You (Sec. Kissinger) need to tell us. How do you perceive the threat?

Secretary Kissinger: I think we can get through the rest of 1974. I think there is a 50–50 chance of renewed hostilities in 1975. I think there is a high potential for Syrian action by the middle of 1975. One thing we can do is tie the $1 billion package to the negotiations.

[Page 416]

Mr. Clements: Absolutely!

Secretary Kissinger: That would be the only way it would be palatable to the Arabs. We would tell them we are trading arms in return for territory. That can probably be managed.

Amb. Ellsworth: Then what you want is strictly an assessment of the impact on the Israelis of a full delivery by April, and you want that broken down into discrete increments. We’re clearer on the $1 billion package than the whole package.

Secretary Kissinger: Do we have a Working Group on this?

Mr. Clements: Yes, and a damn fine one, too.

Secretary Kissinger: I’m wondering what we are going to have to ask the President to approve. We’ll probably have to break it down into five and ten-year programs. Also, what is the long-term implication, and what can a smaller package do.

Is anybody here in favor of the full package? (No). Is anybody in favor of the full Matmon B package? (No). Matmon B on a five-year term? (No). Okay, what the President needs to know is, does he want to do any of it. Give him some idea of the increments and the diplomatic scenario to implement it.

Mr. Clements: Henry, I think all of us here favor implementation of the plan in one form or another to help you in your diplomatic efforts. We want to back up your diplomatic efforts. We also want to do the most we can for the Israelis without putting our own forces in jeopardy.

Secretary Kissinger: One firm impression I have is that the President is not in favor of abandoning Israel. He is committed to the security and integrity of the Israeli State. If the $1 billion package improves Israeli stocks, and the strategic balance is not affected, then we have some flexibility for diplomatic purposes. I have not found the Israelis willing to do things for services already rendered.

Your view Bill (Mr. Clements) is that if in the President’s judgement the Israelis need the equipment increments, you’ll break your back to see that they get it.

Mr. Clements: Absolutely!

Secretary Kissinger: Brent (Gen. Scowcroft) work with them on the briefing.

Gen. Scowcroft: Right.

Mr. Clements: One last thing. I think it important that the President understand that as you move into this thing, our production facilities may not be able to cope. The amount of aid we can give to Israel may be dependent upon our ability to produce. That has to be made clear.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. CIA will do the factual briefing (for the NSC Meeting). I will do the diplomatic framework and then outline the next steps.

[Page 417]

Gen. Walters: You want only a presentation of facts?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, as I asked for earlier.

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H Files), Box 23, Meeting Minutes—SRG Originals, August 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room. All brackets, with the exception of ones describing omitted material, are in the original.
  2. The SRG was considering the interagency NSSM 207 response, entitled “Israeli Future Military Requirements,” dated August 26, which presented options for the U.S. response to Matmon B, Israel’s request for military equipment. (Ibid., Box 31, NSSMs, NSSM 207, Israeli Future Military Requirements) NSSM 207 is Document 96.
  3. Briefing not attached.
  4. A reference to a previous Israeli military aid request.
  5. September 7. The NSC met on September 6. See footnote 3, Document 101.
  6. Not found. Presumably it was part of the Matmon B request.