202. Memorandum From Harold E. Horan and Henry R. Applebaum of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • Turkish Opium Ban

In response to a State Department query on the subject, our Ambassador to Turkey, William Macomber, has recommended (Tab B)2 that he be authorized to deliver an oral message from President Nixon to Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit expressing the President’s concern about the possible lifting of the Turkish opium ban. Macomber has an appointment with Ecevit Monday, May 6 (at 11 a.m. Washington time), and he would like to have this authorization in time for that meeting.

The reason for the short notice on this is that Macomber had asked for an appointment with Ecevit sometime before May 15, expecting to be granted an appointment a day or two before that date. Instead, the Turks have just informed him that the appointment is to be May 6. He expects this to be his last opportunity to see Ecevit before his (Macomber’s) May 15 departure for a CENTO meeting in Washington. Macomber believes that a Presidential message needs to be delivered to Ecevit before his departure if it is to have the best possible chance of being delivered before the Turks make their final decision to ease the ban.

You may want to approve this yourself, but we have set it up as a memo to the President (Tab A)3 in case you want to handle it that way. The memo at Tab A outlines the reasons for having a Presidential message, and for doing it as an oral rather than a written message. An additional reason for not having a written message is that the Turks appear likely to resume opium production in any case. In light of this, Ken Cole’s office4 says it would prefer not to see the President identified in writing with what is likely to be an unsuccessful effort at dissuasion. Cole’s office (Geoff Shepard) has no objection to a Presidential message to the Turks as long as it is oral and private.

[Page 668]

An advance copy of a State Department memo on this matter is at Tab C5 for your information.

Recommendation: That you authorize Macomber to convey the oral Presidential message recommended in the memo at Tab A, in time for a cable to go out to Ankara no later than Sunday, May 5.6

Alternate Recommendation: That the memo at Tab A be forwarded to the President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 634, Country Files, Middle East, Turkey, Vol. IV. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Tab B is telegram 3274 from Ankara, April 30; attached but not printed.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Domestic Council, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Justice.
  5. Tab C is a memorandum from Rush to Nixon, May 3; attached but not printed.
  6. Scowcroft circled the recommendation, wrote “OK,” and initialed. In telegram 92323 to Ankara, May 4, the Department instructed Macomber to tell Ecevit: “The President has asked me to communicate to you his serious concern, which is shared by the American Congress and public, over the possibility that the Turkish Government may rescind the opium ban. A resumption of opium production by Turkey would carry a very grave risk of resumed illicit traffic with serious adverse consequences for the international effort to end narcotics smuggling. Instead, the President hopes that our two governments, along with concerned international agencies, can pursue efforts to improve the economic condition of those individuals affected by the ban.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 634, Country Files, Middle East, Turkey, Vol. IV)