234. Paper Prepared in Response to National Security Study Memorandum 2271


[Omitted here is a table of contents.]


Bilateral security ties which have developed between the United States and Turkey over the past generation have been mutually beneficial. The US has, largely through grant assistance and some recent credit sales aid, provided Turkey more than $3 billion in military equipment. Since Turkish troops are almost entirely equipped with weapons of US origin, Turkish dependence on the US as a source of war material has been almost total. The Turks are currently implementing a long-range armed forces re-organization and modernization program for which they had expected US assistance.

Under a series of agreements negotiated with the Turks during the NATO-assigned role, [2 lines not declassified]. Other US facilities fall under bilateral US-Turkish defense agreements, (the relevant umbrella agreement is the Defense Cooperation Agreement of 1969), although they, too, contribute to the overall defense of the western alliance. Among these are [1 line not declassified] a LORAN-C station, and communications facilities linking all US installations.

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Bilateral security cooperation between Turkey and the US was dealt a severe blow by the Turkish military intervention on Cyprus in July–August, 1974, and the subsequent imposition by the US Congress of a total embargo on US arms shipments to Turkey effective February NATO that it considered the US to be in violation of Article III of the NATO Treaty and Article XXI of the Defense Cooperation Agreement DCA and companion agreements governing the American presence in Turkey would have to be re-examined.

Amid steadily mounting domestic pressure to retaliate against the US, the Turkish Government informed us on June 17 that in its view the DCA and several related agreements were no longer valid, and requested that negotiations begin within 30 days on the future of US facilities in Turkey.2 The note also indicated that at some subsequent date Turkey would place US facilities in a “provisional status” pending the outcome of negotiations.

At the opening of negotiations July 17—the only session held to date—both sides stated their respective legal positions: Turkey said the DCA was dead and that a new agreement would have to be negotiated;3 the US side stated that the US considers the DCA still valid, but that we are willing, nonetheless, to negotiate with the Turks on the future of our facilities.4 On July 27, the US gave the Turkish Government a note which again stated our legal position that the DCA is still valid.5 Since the US legal position has thus been registered with Turkey, we have not considered it necessary to address the question of the DCA’s legal validity further in this NSSM.

The Turkish Government, which has not yet asked for a second negotiating session, stated, following the July 24 vote of the House of Representatives turning down a partial lifting of the embargo, that constructive negotiations will be possible only after the arms ban is rescinded. Within 24 hours of the House vote the Turks invoked the6 They suspended operations at the [less than 1 line not declassified] LORAN-C station, placed all US facilities under Turkish control, and began cutting back the privileges of US armed forces [Page 780] personnel in order to bring those privileges into strict conformity with the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. They have not interfered with primary activities at Incirlik air base, which Turkey considers a NATO installation.

Not wishing to strike at the heart of Turkey’s relationship with the United States, the Demirel Government has moved fairly cautiously in its retaliatory steps to date. To the extent that it is politically possible, Demirel may still search for measures against the US which will seem more severe than they actually are. On the other hand, the Turkish leadership probably will be unable to resist pressure to take conclusive action if the embargo is not rescinded or substantially modified. The Turkish military establishment, whose views carry heavy weight in Ankara, has also, on the whole, been generally committed to retaining ties with the US, although elements within the military were in the forefront of those demanding strong action against the US.

Turkey attaches great importance to its NATO role, both in terms of Turkey’s defense and of its political identity as a western European country. The Turkish military has a strong interest in continuing full participation in NATO’s military activities. We think Turkey will not want to call its basic alliance role into question, but will push other allies hard to fill the gap in its arms and equipment inventories. It may also insist on urgent NATO action on such items on its list of “urgent requirements” as communications and air defense.

In the longer term, Turkish disillusionment with the US could intensify Turkey’s basic re-appraisal of all its security relationships and of its general foreign policy orientation. Decisions based on such a reappraisal are not likely to be hasty, as Turkey judges whether NATO can meet what Turkey perceives to be its needs in the absence of a special US-Turkish relationship.

US objectives in the forthcoming negotiations with the Turks are to retain our basic facilities and preserve the fundamentals of the multilateral security relationship. These aims are intrinsically conservative. We want to preserve those things we now have which we consider desirable, and relinquish only what we must. Within these goals, opportunities may arise to realign the US presence in ways which could make it more efficient while decreasing its size, visibility, and overall cost.

One of the basic assumptions underlying what we consider to be the optional approaches to negotiations available to the US is that the US-Turkish relationship is undergoing some permanent change. Turkey will no longer trust the US to the same extent as heretofore, no matter what is done to lift the embargo in the weeks and months ahead. On the other hand, Turkish leaders will be reluctant to see US-Turkish bilateral security ties disappear entirely.

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Four negotiating options, or approaches, deserve examination. They range from trying to accept and accommodate Turkish desires in devising a new security relationship, to abandoning our facilities in Turkey altogether. The options developed here are not mutually exclusive; each option contains a number of elements, some of which can be extracted and used in other options.

The four approaches are as follows:

  • Option 1—US acquiescence in Turkish demands for a new Defense Cooperation Agreement. We would negotiate a new agreement within parameters established by the Turks, and consult Congress on the result, even though many features of the new agreement would be unpalatable on Capitol Hill.
  • Option 2—The US would take the initiative in putting together a package which might satisfy the Turks sufficiently to enable us to retain our minimum facilities. Under this option we might utilize the negotiating leverage we have [1 line not declassified], seek to enlist our NATO allies in providing alternative sources of arms, and try to cloak some of our current bilateral facilities with a NATO mantle.
  • Option 3—Drag our feet on negotiations and play for time in the hope that developments this fall and winter with respect to Cyprus, or Congressional action to lift the arms embargo, would enhance our negotiating position.
  • Option 4—Reduce US installations in Turkey by deciding internally what facilities we can do without, and then negotiating a new agreement to provide for a much-reduced US presence.

Given present uncertainties regarding Turkish intentions on both the substance and timing of negotiations as the Turks await the outcome of the US effort to rescind the arms embargo, we think the US should for now retain maximum negotiating flexibility by keeping its options completely open. Thus, rather than recommend a specific approach to negotiations at this time, we recommend that the US government study the options presented in this paper, but adopt no specific one during the next few weeks of watchful waiting as the Congressional situation and Turkish intentions clarify.

[Omitted here is the body of the 45-page paper with annexes.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S–I Files: Lot 80 D 212, Box 503, NSSM 227. Secret; FRD. An August 20 memorandum from Jeanne Davis transmitted the paper to the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of State, and the Directors of Central Intelligence and the National Security Agency, stating that it had been prepared by an NSC interagency group chaired by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in response to NSSM 27. A copy was also sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. NSSM 27 is printed as Document 231.
  2. Telegram 4702 from Ankara, June 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1975)
  3. Telegram 5544 from Ankara, July 17. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 5545 from Ankara, July 17. (Ibid.)
  5. Not found.
  6. Telegram 5768 from Ankara, July 25. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1975)