219. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1

  • SUBJECT
    • Middle East
  • PARTICIPANTS
    • Chairman:
      • Henry A. Kissinger
    • State:
      • Kenneth Rush
      • Joseph Sisco
      • Robert McCloskey
    • DOD:
      • William Clements
      • Robert Hill
    • JCS:
      • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
      • Vice Adm. John P. Weinel
    • CIA
      • William Colby
      • Sam Hoskinson
    • Assistant to the President for Energy Policy:
      • John Love
      • Charles DiBona
    • NSC Staff:
      • Gen. Brent Scowcroft
      • William Quandt
      • Jeanne W. Davis

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS

It was agreed that:

1) Assuming the present situation can be settled soon, the President should proceed with the proposed emergency oil program approximately two weeks after settlement.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

Secretary Kissinger: Could we turn to oil.

Gov. Love: We have added some of the medium and longer-term actions you asked us for.

(Mr. DiBona handed around the paper at Tab B2 and Governor Love briefed from the paper)

Gov. Love: We have put all of these things in a proposed speech by the President. In addition, I think we are all in general agreement [Page 602]on identifying the kinds of things that need to be done. The problem is not identification. We need a timing and goals discussion and a structure to allow the things to get done. That’s why I convened last week the Cabinet-level Energy Policy Committee. We need to set out some five-to-seven-year goals, with some “man-on-the-moon” type urgency. I have set up a series of interdepartmental Task Forces to work out some incremental movements: what we need by the end of 1973, end of 1974, etc.; what needs to be done and the constraints. I think we are on the way to a coherent, feasible program.

Secretary Kissinger: We don’t expect an oil cut-off now in the light of the discussions with the Arab Foreign Ministers this morning.3 What is the temperature of the oil companies? Did you see the Saudi Foreign Minister come out like a good little boy and say they had had very fruitful talks with us? (to Mr. Clements) Despite what your colleagues have done to screw us up with their messages, we don’t expect a cutoff in the next few days.

Mr. Clements: They’re not my colleagues. My colleagues are in this room.

Secretary Kissinger: (to Gov. Love) Have you redone the speech to take into account the longer-term things?

Gov. Love: Yes. As you said yesterday, this presents us with an opportunity to get some things done. I think we should proceed even after this is over.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. Two weeks after this thing comes to an end, I think the President should send a message to the Congress. He should point out that this situation has brought home our vulnerability and that we can’t stay in this position. He should press for urgent action on the things that are before the Congress now, plus some other things. We have been doing a tight-rope act and we can’t pull it off again. We have been threatening the Arabs with pulling out of the diplomacy. If the diplomacy fails, we’re in a helluva spot. We have to get ready.

Mr. DiBona: The European markets are in complete disarray. European shipments to the U.S. are already off. We have to be particularly careful about what we say, and have to watch very carefully this winter, even if there is no cut-off.

Mr. Clements: If we get by without this extreme emergency, we will still have problems. In the Mediterranean there has already been [Page 603]a cut-back by about 12% in the amount of crude available. We’ll feel it in the fleet—we’ll have to seek alternate sources for our ships there.

Secretary Kissinger: Also, we must see to it that the Europeans can never again behave as they are behaving now.

Gov. Love: Some European countries are getting anxious about the idea of sharing agreements. If there is any sharing, it will be all one way.

Mr. Sisco: Your study shows that clearly.

Mr. Rush: I’ve been in touch with the oil companies. They said they were not the source of the article in the Times yesterday:4 that the State Department was. They have agreed to play in a low key.

Secretary Kissinger: They shouldn’t be playing at all. They have an unparallelled record of being wrong.

Mr. Rush: I didn’t tell them that.

Mr. Sisco: I think Governor Love’s people have done a good job. It’s good to see the entire thing laid out in one speech.

Secretary Kissinger: Assuming we can bring this thing to a conclusion in a short time, two weeks later we should start this program. The Arabs have to know that blackmail is a losing game.

Mr. Rush: If we get that Alaska pipeline that will bring in more than we get from the Middle East.

Mr. DiBona: The Alaska oil at its peak will equal the total lifting and production from the Arab countries. But by the time that is flowing, our demand will have increased.

Mr. Clements: We need two pipelines.

Mr. Sisco: What do we need to get that out of the Hill?

Mr. DiBona: I’m told they’re down to the last wire.

Mr. Clements: We’ve been hearing that for a long time. They have no sense of urgency.

Gen. Love: If the President goes on TV and lays out a whole program, that will create a sense of urgency.

Secretary Kissinger: We’ll get it done in two weeks after this is over. (Referring to the Love paper) This is a superb job.

(Governor Love and Mr. DiBona left the meeting.)

[Omitted here is discussion not related to oil.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–117, Washington Special Action Group, WSAG Minutes (Originals) 10/2/73–7/22/74. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. The meeting occurred in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXV, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1973, Document 198.
  2. Attached but not printed. At Tab B is an October 18 memorandum from Love to Kissinger, stating that the attached draft Presidential statement had been rewritten to include the announcement of several programs, “which would sharply reduce our dependence on imported oil to manageable proportions.”
  3. Nixon and Kissinger met with the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, and Algeria on October 17 to discuss Middle East issues. They did not discuss oil. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 ARAB–ISR)
  4. Edward Cowan’s article, “A Saudi Threat on Oil Reported,” noted that Yamani told oil executives if the United States overtly resupplied Israel, Saudi Arabia would cut crude oil production by 10 percent at once and by 5 percent a month thereafter. (The New York Times, October 16, 1973, p. 89)