323. Memorandum From Robert Oakley and Gary Sick of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1
PRESIDENT’S WEDNESDAY BRIEF
For General Scowcroft
Iraq UN Mission Purchase of Machine Guns. On November 12, the Iraqi UN Mission signed for four cartons containing 100 Colt submachine guns (a very advanced, easily-concealed model). The agent in this transaction, an illegal alien, was arrested by Treasury on December 5 and is being held for arraignment in Baltimore.2 Ambassador Bennett of the US UN Mission, accompanied by representatives of Treasury (Customs) and USUN Security, met with Iraqi Permanent Representa[Page 910]tive Al-Shaikhly on December 9.3 Al-Shaikhly acknowledged that the Iraqi Mission had accepted delivery “by error” of three cartons only, containing 70 guns, and agreed to give them up (70 guns were picked up on December 11).4 He acknowledged that the transaction was arranged by Mr. Al-Tayyar of their staff and said that he operates “independently.” [1½ lines not declassified] Tayyar had returned from a trip to Baghdad just before placing the order.
USUN has been instructed to pursue the matter and to inform the Iraqi Mission that until all 100 guns are returned—even if they are currently overseas—there will remain a serious problem.5 [The purchasing agent has indicated his belief that the weapons were to be used in connection with the forthcoming OPEC meeting in Doha. This would be consistent with the operations of the Iraqi-supported Black June terrorist operations which have recently included the attack on hotels in Damascus and Amman,6 and probably the attempted assassination of Foreign Minister Khaddam of Syria in Damascus.]7 The UN Legal Office is being kept informed as events progress. Publicity thus far has been limited to a brief mention in the December 9 Washington Star, but will probably become more widespread when the purchasing agent is brought up for arraignment in the next few days.
Comment: It is important that the Iraqis not be allowed to hold out on the 30 missing guns, whose initial delivery to the Iraqi Mission has been reconfirmed. The Iraqi “Black June” connection, the model of gun, and other suspicious evidence point toward the guns being ordered for terrorist purposes.8
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Middle East and South Asian Affairs Staff: Convenience Files, Box 7, Iraq (2). Confidential. The memorandum was submitted for inclusion in the President’s briefing on Wednesday, December 15.↩
- Telegram 297125 to Baghdad, December 7, informed the Interests Section. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D760450–1234)↩
- The meeting was reported in telegram 6030 from USUN, December 10. (Ibid., D760455–0936)↩
- Reported in telegram 6099 from USUN, December 13. (Ibid., D760459–1195)↩
- The instructions were sent in telegram 302691 to USUN, December 14. (Ibid., D760459–0725)↩
- See footnote 3, Document 321.↩
- Brackets in the original. The assassination attempt took place on December 1.↩
- Telegram 309837 to Baghdad, December 23, instructed the Interests Section to approach the Foreign Ministry to explain the affair and seek the return of the weapons. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D760470–0478) According to telegram 1905 from Baghdad, December 23, Wiley made a démarche at the Foreign Ministry. (Ibid., D760471–0343) In telegram 21 from Baghdad, January 4, 1977, the Interests Section noted that the U.S. “firm but low-key approach” had strengthened the “doves” in the Iraqi Government who preferred to withdraw the Iraqi UN Ambassador and avoid designating a reciprocal persona non grata from the Interests Section. (Ibid., D770002–1251)↩