41. Memorandum From C. Fred Bergsten of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

    • Presidential Statement on Oil Imports

You have decided to approve Secretary Stans’ proposal for a Presidential statement on oil import policy, provided that Venezuela is informed in advance (Tab B).2

The memorandum to Flanigan at Tab A3 would inform him of your position. It extends the advance information requirement to Canada as well as Venezuela and insists that the advance information be more than a perfunctory twenty-four hour notice.

Our consultations with both countries have left them with the impression that we will confer meaningfully with them before we make our final decisions on oil import policy, which this statement would announce. Consultation will be particularly crucial when it becomes apparent to them that they can expect very little gain from our oil import policy in the near future.

We have a particularly delicate situation with Venezuela in this regard. Our technical consultations have dealt with the substance of the Shultz report, and not the minority position of Stans and Hickel. The Venezuelans have been led to believe that a very serious study of the Shultz report will be made, leading to relatively prompt decisions on it. (And this is also the belief of most of the bureaucracy.) They are sending a delegation back to Washington shortly to give us their views on the Shultz report.

[Page 103]

If the question of tariffs is to be shelved and we are merely going to continue and adjust the current import quota system, we ought in all honesty to let the Venezuelans know this. Very short notice of a statement by Secretary Stans will lead the Venezuelans to believe that we have been hoodwinking them all this time. It is therefore important to apprise the Venezuelans of this change of direction in our general approach to the question of oil imports.


That you sign the memorandum at Tab A, informing Flanigan of your approval of the Presidential statement proposed by Stans and requiring advance notification of the new program to Venezuela and Canada.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 367, Subject Files, Oil 1970. Confidential. Sent for action. Vaky concurred.
  2. Not attached. In his January 20 memorandum to Kissinger, Stans proposed a draft public statement for Nixon on the Task Force Report in which Nixon would state that due to both domestic and international uncertainties, it was “premature and inadvisable” to make any major change in the present import system. Instead the President would establish a Cabinet Committee on Oil Imports to provide policy guidance, direct the committee to increase imports of home heating oil into the Northeast, prepare a plan to increase the accessibility of the domestic petrochemical industry to imported oil, and evaluate the desirability of further gradual increases to oil imports. (Ibid.) Bergsten informed Kissinger in a January 27 memorandum that the Stans proposal mirrored that suggested by Flanigan, “the major objective of which is to defer, hopefully forever, any basic change in our oil import program.” Bergsten thought Stans’ approach was a mistake. (Ibid.)
  3. Not attached.
  4. In his February 12 memorandum to Flanigan, Kissinger noted that he had “no foreign policy objection to a statement along the lines suggested” by Stans, but that “both Venezuela and Canada must receive advance information of the announcement in sufficient time to allow for a response from them.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 367, Subject Files, Oil 1970)