81. Memorandum From Clinton Granger and Harold Horan of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • South African Ocean Surveillance

Implementation of the President’s decision to facilitate issuance of licenses for South Africa to purchase ocean surveillance equipment is proceeding apace. Admiral Holloway dispatched yesterday (January 14) his letter to South African General Armstrong informing him that Munitions Control would view favorably an application by International Signals Corporation for a license to study South Africa’s ocean surveillance needs; DOD is sending us a copy of this letter. Meanwhile, the Navy evidently has been in contact with the South Africans, and International Signals has informed Munitions Control that the study application would be forthcoming by January 21. State is also taking steps to ensure that Ambassador Bowdler in South Africa is informed.

One potential issue has arisen in relations between Munitions Control and International Signals. The company was intending to do business with a quasi-private South African organization which would be established by the South African Government to put the ocean surveillance project into operation. This procedure, broached by the South Africans in their original letter to Admiral Holloway, is evidently designed to save us political embarrassment. More likely, however, it would do the opposite, adding the appearance of cover-up to the political controversy which would break out should our role in the ocean surveillance project become known. State believes strongly and has told International Signals that whomever the company deals with, the [Page 192] role of the South African Government must be acknowledged in the study application—and therefore tacitly accepted by us in approving the study. We concur.

You should also be aware that, despite extraordinary efforts at State and Defense to restrict access to information about the ocean surveillance project, the circle of those aware of it is inevitably widening. Aside from State and Defense, International Signals and the South Africans are now aware that a decision has been made to consider exceptions to our embargo policy. We must assume that chances for a leak are becoming much greater.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Scowcroft Daily Work Files, Box 25, Scowcroft Chronological File (B), Scowcroft Chronological 1/15/76–1/19/76. Top Secret. Sent for information. A handwritten note by Scowcroft reads: “Let’s do our best to hold it close while Angola is prominent.”