53. National Security Study Memorandum 2231


  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Deputy Secretary of State
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Director of Central Intelligence


  • Review of U.S. Policy on Arms Transfers

The President has directed a review of U.S. policy on arms transfers for foreign nations.

The study should present a statistical study of the growth of U.S. transfers of both defense articles and services in the past four years, including both commercial and FMS sales cases and grant aid, and compare these transfers in monetary value, and types and quantities of equipment, with transfers by other nations. In making this comparison, the impact of inflation should be taken into account. An effort should also be made to estimate sales by the U.S. and other countries over the next four years.

The study should analyze long-term U.S. interests in the transfer of defense articles and services and propose alternative policies, in[Page 253]cluding limits which might be applied to U.S. arms transfers unilaterally or in concert with other suppliers. The study should also review existing and proposed USG mechanisms for controlling arms sales.

The study should be conducted by an NSC Ad Hoc Group, chaired by a representative of the Secretary of State and comprising representatives of the addressees and the NSC Staff. The study should be completed by June 20, 1975 for submission to the Senior Review Group for review prior to consideration by the President.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 35, NSSM 223 (2). Confidential. A copy was sent to General Brown. MacDonald forwarded the NSDM to Kissinger under a covering memorandum, May 2, with the recommendation that he sign it. A study, MacDonald wrote, would “allow us to analyze our interests and options in an area which is increasingly threatened by crippling Congressional restrictions on the power of the Executive to sell or transfer weapons.” He continued, “A NSSM response which puts the growth of arms sales into perspective and sets out the foreign policy rationale for sales should assist our efforts to dilute or avert some Congressional restrictions.” MacDonald’s memorandum is ibid., NSSM 223 (1). The FY 1975 Foreign Assistance Act (S 3394—PL 93–559), as passed on December 18, 1974, included language requiring the President to notify Congress of any proposed government-to-government arms sales in excess of $25 million and giving Congress the authority to disapprove such sales. (Congress and the Nation, Vol. IV, 1973–1976, pp. 858–860, 874)