275. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State1

5763. Subj: Saudis To Supply Sixth and Seventh Fleets With Oil. Ref: State 250849.2

Ahmad Zaki Yamani, Saudi Minister of Petroleum told me the evening of Dec 28 that he had made no commitment to Clements or anyone else while he was in the States that he would ease the boycott for U.S. military forces.3 He said it was inconceivable that he would do this. He had only said he would try to do so. He had raised this matter with the King ten days ago and his initial reaction had been negative; the King said supplies for the military would be restored at the same time the boycott was eased. I outlined for Yamani, as I had repeatedly in the past, the reasons for an extra effort to supply the military. He said he understood and was still trying to get something done.
Yamani told me this morning that he met the King shortly after he saw me; he reviewed our concerns, said that I had assumed there would be some easing of the boycott at the Kuwait December 25 OAPEC meeting, but as there was not, the question of supplies for our military became even more acute. He said he gave the King a full briefing on the weakening of U.S. forces vis-à-vis the Russians, and the need for some special arrangement. The King did not respond. Yamani said he told the King he interpreted his silence as consent. The King still did not respond. He said he then thanked the King and said he would inform me that this decision had been taken.
Yamani said he had given this information only to Frank Jungers, President of Aramco, and had asked that only those needing to know be informed. Aramco is now working out a program based on extra shipment of crude to certain refineries, and on products directly from Bahrain. It will supply both the Sixth and Seventh Fleets but not other military forces, which would be more difficult to conceal. (Comment: Before this is fully implemented I suspect the Italian Government will also have to be informed, if the oil for the Sixth Fleet is to be refined in Italy. I did not mention this to Yamani.)
Yamani said that in Saudi Arabia only Prince Saud, his deputy, and the King knew of the decision. Only Tavolereas in Mobil and “someone” from Exxon would be informed, and he asked that it be very tightly held in Washington. He quoted the leak from the “high-ranking Defense Department official” on the prospective easing of the oil boycott and said that if there were anything on this matter in the press, three things would happen: A) the fleets would lose their Saudi oil; B) he would be compromised and could even lose his job; and C) the prospects of any general lifting or easing of the boycott would be very seriously diminished.4
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 207, Geopolitical Files, Saudi Arabia, 28 Nov 73–Jan 74. Secret; Immediate; Cherokee; Nodis.
  2. Telegram 250849 has not been found.
  3. See footnote 1, Document 263.
  4. In telegram 2412 to Jidda, January 5, 1974, Kissinger thanked Yamani for his “statesmanlike action” which would help maintain U.S. military strength “in the common interest of Saudi Arabia, the United States and the entire Free World.” He also assured Yamani that the information would be restricted to those who had an absolute need to know. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 631, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Vol. V)