33. Memorandum From the Acting Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Johnson) to President Nixon1


  • Implementation of Decisions on South West Africa (NSDM 55)

On April 17, you provided guidance on our policy toward South West Africa (Tab B).2 Specific steps you directed include:

  • —We should officially discourage investment by U.S. nationals.
  • —Export-Import Bank credit guarantees and other facilities should no longer be made available for trade with South West Africa.
  • —U.S. nationals who nevertheless invest in South West Africa (on the basis of rights acquired through the South African Government since adoption of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2145) should not receive U.S. assistance in protection of such investments against claims of a future lawful government.
  • —We should encourage other nations to take similar actions, but without exerting pressure on them, either in the United Nations or in our bilateral relations.

Actions Taken or Planned

Following are the principal steps taken to implement your guidance:

Your decisions in the economic area were announced on May 20 by Ambassador Yost in an address to the United Nations Association in New York and by Assistant Secretary Newsom in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa.
Ambassador Phillips stated the U.S. position in accordance with your general guidelines to the Security Council’s subcommittee on South West Africa. In his June 18 statement, the Ambassador issued a general call for governments to discourage trade and investment by their nationals in that territory.
Additionally, the new policy was communicated to the subcommittee in our reply on June 30 to a subcommittee questionnaire asking all states for information on their activities and the activities of their nationals and companies in South West Africa.
Posts in Africa and embassies in London, Paris and Lisbon advised their host governments and conveyed our hope that they would take similar action to discourage trade and investment by their nationals and companies in South West Africa. Further approaches are contemplated.
Ambassador Phillips also expressed support for the Finnish proposal (still under discussion in the Subcommittee) that the following question be put to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion:

“What are the legal consequences for states, in light of Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), of the continued presence of South Africa in Namibia?”

The Department of Commerce, the Export-Import Bank, and the Department of State have taken steps to notify the business community (Tab A).3

(To date no resolution has been introduced into the Security Council requiring member states to report on application of the arms embargo against South Africa. Hence the point of your guidance dealing with this aspect has not become applicable. The Under Secretaries Committee is conducting a comprehensive review of the embargo.)

We believe these actions effectively implement and publicize your guidance on trade and investment in South West Africa. The decisions have been carefully noted in South Africa and have had no harmful effects on our relations with that country. They were favorably received at the United Nations and elsewhere. We will be alert to further opportunities for explaining our policy and encouraging parallel action by others.

U. Alexis Johnson
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 330–73A1975, 334 NSC U 1970. Secret. The memorandum was forwarded to the White House under a July 6 covering memorandum from Hartman.
  2. Tab B, not attached, is printed as Document 32.
  3. Undated, attached but not printed.