249. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Military Sales to Greece
[Page 632]

State Department has just about completed a memo laying out your options with regard to our continuing military aid program in Greece.2 However, there is one action that must be taken before the end of the fiscal year if we are to take full advantage of the funds appropriated for the FY 69 program.

As you know, our shipments of major military aid items were suspended after the April 1967 coup. Spare parts and non-major items (like trucks) continued to flow.

Last fall the Johnson Administration in a one-shot decision released about 40% of the equipment that had been withheld. This 40% consisted mainly of aircraft and a few ships. Items for the army which could be associated with political repression, such as tanks, were withheld. All of this was funded from grant military aid.

Now there is a possibility of concluding a $20 million sales agreement for equipment other than that on the suspended list—the spares and other items that were never cut off. This money is available from FY 69 appropriated funds but will have to be allocated before June 30 if it is to be used.

We would not bother you with this issue except for the Reuss Amendment to the Foreign Military Sales Act.3 This states the sense of Congress that foreign military sales authorized under the Act shall not be approved where they would have the effect of arming “military dictators who are denying social progress to their people.” The Amendment states that the President may waive this limitation if he determines that it would be important to the security of the United States.

In the future, we may decide on procedures under which you would personally make such determinations. For the moment, since this is a “sense of Congress” amendment, it is possible for State Department to make this finding. However, because of the political sensitivity of the military aid to Greece, we want to put the issue to you.

We can go in one of three directions in our Greek military aid program:

  • Option 1: Cut it off altogether. This would mean, in addition to maintaining suspension of major items, even cutting off the flow of non-major items which has gone on uninterrupted. Congressional liberals and friends of the Greek politicians silenced or exiled by the military government urge us to disassociate ourselves completely from the military government by totally suspending our military aid relationship. Even this sale of non-major equipment would meet some objections in [Page 633] the Congress. The Reuss Amendment was written in response to these pressures. While such pressures do not seem to dominate the Congress, they are strong enough to prompt an effort to tighten restrictions, perhaps extending them to the grant aid program as well this year. At least, we may get some Congressional criticism from going ahead with this sale.
  • Option 2: Shipping non-major items but continuing the suspension of major items. This means continuing both the basic flow of non-major items and completing shipment of the major items released from the suspended list last fall—but not releasing anything more from the list. The rationale for maintaining the partial suspension last fall was to indicate our continuing displeasure over the slow pace at which the military government is moving back toward constitutional government. The rationale of the past Administration in trying to keep some pressure on the military government was to respond in some way to Congressional critics of the program while at the same time trying to maintain our NATO relationship with Greece.
  • Option 3: Resumption of full military aid. Since January 20, the Greek Government has mounted a persistent campaign to persuade us to remove the pressure for return to constitutional government and to resume a full military aid program. The Greek Foreign Minister argued this case when he was here for the NATO meetings; Deputy Prime Minister Pattakos stated the argument to you at the time of General EISENHOWERʼs funeral; and Prime Minister Papadopoulos has written you urging it.4 In NATO terms this makes sense, but in deciding on this course, we would have to consider its effect on all of those here and in Western Europe who are pressing to have Greece suspended from its formal membership in European organizations.

I believe the real choice is between options 2 and 3 above. This choice will be the main subject of the NSC paper that will be coming to you in a few weeks. No one in the Executive Branch has recommended that we cut off our military supply program altogether. Although this is obviously in the minds of some of the Congressional critics of our maintaining a working tie with the military government, the majority of Congress seems to recognize the need to maintain that tie.

I lay these options out in this way because your acquiescence in this sale will foreclose option 1—the choice of cutting off even the supply of spares and non-major items which has never been interrupted. It would commit us to continue the flow of at least $20 million in spares [Page 634] and non-major items. I believe we have to do at least this much in order to preserve our NATO relationship with Greece, but you should be aware that there are those in the Congress who would prefer our getting out of the military aid business altogether in Greece.

Recommendation: That you concur in the finding that it is important to our security to maintain at least this minimal military aid relationship with Greece. Budget Bureau concurs. Then we shall hold a full-scale review for you of the choice between options 2 and 3.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 593, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. I Jan 69–Oct 70. Secret. Sent for action. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. For the response to NSSM 52, see Documents 256 and 257.
  3. For text of the Reuss amendment to the Foreign Military Sales Act of 1968, P.L. 90–629, approved October 28, 1968, see 82 Stat. 1322.
  4. See Documents 243 and 245. The text of Papadopoulosʼs April 4 letter to the President and Nixonʼs June 3 non-committal reply were transmitted in telegram 90814 to Athens, June 5. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL GREECE)
  5. The President drew a line through the approval/disapproval lines and wrote: “RN—approves option 3.”