156. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of State Rogers and Secretary of Defense Laird1


  • Redefinition of Advanced Computers

In response to the memorandum of April 15, 1971, from the Chairman, NSC Under Secretaries Committee2 the President has approved the redefinition of advanced computers recommended by the USC for the purposes of special assurances required in connection with export to, or assembly in France. Henceforth, such assurances will only be required for computers with a maximum theoretical bus rate exceeding 200 million bits per second.3

[Page 561]

The President has directed the NSC Under Secretaries Committee to undertake a study of the applicability of the foregoing definition to prior clearance procedures affecting transactions involving France and other Free World countries, and to report its findings by May 20, 1971. This study, which should examine particularly the non-proliferation and other security implications of such an action, will be classified SECRET.

The USC is further requested to initiate a review of the desirability of adopting new criteria for measuring the performance of advanced computers, and to forward any recommendations to the President by July 1, 1971.

As previously directed, the USC shall recommend contingency press guidance for use in case issues treated in NSDM’s 103 and 1044 become public. Should this occur, the Department of State will deal with all inquiries concerning the redefinition of advanced computers in relations with France, and in connection with the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The Department of Defense will be authorized to respond to any inquiries relating to projected cooperation with France in the areas of missile assistance and nuclear safety.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, General Files on National Security Council Matters, 1969–1972, Lot 73D288, NSC/USC Memos. Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the NSC Under Secretaries Committee.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 153.
  3. In telegram 68404 to Paris, April 22, the Department of State instructed the Embassy to orally inform the French of the 200 million bits per second threshold and provided examples of the types of computers that were included and excluded by this standard. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 678, Country Files—Europe, France, Vol. VIII)
  4. Documents 153 and 154.