37. Telegram From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Tohak 27. I have just seen Tosec 30 which recommends you order Defense to cancel the sale of Redeye missiles to Greece.2 I disagree.

There is no question that it was outrageous of Defense to negotiate the sale without checking with State or with us, nevertheless, the State arguments for cancellation do not appear persuasive to me.

First of all, it will be taken by the Greeks to be a slap by us. They made the contract in good faith and have absolutely no reason to understand the circumstances or reasons for its cancellation at this late date.

In addition, the rationale for our earlier concern over sale of the Redeye has lost much of its logic. The Soviet SA–7 has been widely distributed by the Soviets including, directly or indirectly, to the Fedayeen. Besides, I know of no reason to think the weapon is more likely [Page 135] to get into irresponsible hands from Greece than from the other countries to which we have furnished it.

Possible Greek terrorism against Turkish commercial aircraft is, it seems to me, restrained not so much by an absence of the Redeye as by the possibility of retaliation either against Greek civil aircraft or the Greek population in Cyprus. In case of acquisition by the PLO, there are no such countervailing pressures.

Lastly, while it should not be governing, the sale is now at the point that Defense would have to pay for the entire contract plus cancellation charges. The Army does not need additional Redeye missiles. They could conceivably be sold elsewhere but where else would we be any better off than in Greece?3

I do believe it is worthwhile, however, to keep track of Redeye sales and I do concur that Defense should clear any such sales.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables for Henry Kissinger, 1974–1976, Box 7, 3/5–3/22/75, Tohak 2. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent to Borg, Adams, and Rodman for Kissinger with a request to deliver at the opening of business. Kissinger was in Egypt.
  2. In telegram Tosec 30, March 6, Hartman and Vest informed Sisco that the Department of Defense, without coordination with the Department of State, had authorized the sale of 1,000 Redeye missiles to Greece. The Department of State proposed canceling the sale on the grounds that sale of this type of missile had been strictly limited because of its adaptability to terrorist use and that its possible use in the Cyprus dispute would damage the fragile Greek-Turkish relationship. (Ibid.)
  3. Kubisch met with Averoff several times, including on April 15, in order to receive Greek assurances that the Redeye missiles would not be misused. (Telegram 2916 from Athens, April 15; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1975)