241. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Tarnoff) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • OPEC Price Increases

In response to the President’s directive that we mount a campaign against the OPEC price increases,2 the Department is preparing instruc[Page 764]tions for our Embassies. These instructions will be differentiated between two groups of consuming countries—LDC’s and the industrialized countries.

The message to the non-oil producing LDC’s, our major target group, will be a follow-up to our earlier message on the same subject (State telegram 151031 of June 12),3 and will seek to convince these countries that it is in their interest to engage in private and, particularly, public criticism of the price policies of the producing countries. This effort, however, will have to be handled with care. We would not want it to appear that other countries were acting on behalf of the United States, because that impression would sharply diminish the impact of their pleas. It is also important, particularly in terms of continued Saudi cooperation, that any campaign differentiate between OPEC “price hawks” and nations which have been helpful on price and production decisions. Such a campaign must also take into consideration the world wide support we wish to evoke for some action on Mexican President Lopez Portillo’s energy proposal,4 which is encountering considerable opposition among the Group of 77.

Our efforts among the industrialized countries will, of course, be more direct and result in bringing about a more forthright public position on the price increases.

These instructions will be coordinated with the deliberations in course within the SCC on developing a comprehensive policy to meet the energy crisis.

We understand that ICA is responding directly on the aspects of the campaign within its purview.

Peter Tarnoff
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Special Projects File, Box 13, Henry Owen, Chron, 11/1–5/79. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. The President’s instruction was circulated in an October 17 memorandum from Brzezinski. (Ibid., Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 3, Central Intelligence Agency: 9–12/79)
  3. In telegram 151031 to all diplomatic and consular posts, the Department noted: “OPEC countries are coming under increasing pressure from oil importing LDCs to moderate price increases or to assist their development efforts in other ways. We wish to increase public awareness of the economic costs to developing countries of rapidly rising oil prices. Attached talking points may be helpful in underscoring these problems.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790266–0803)
  4. See footnote 5, Document 236.