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273. Memorandum From the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Richardson)1



  • The Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff


  • Spanish Base Negotiation Actions

As a result of our discussion of the Spanish base question, with General Burchinal present,2 a series of actions and requests for further studies were agreed. For the requests made of DOD, it was decided that a working group chaired by Mr. Packard would be established to pursue these matters and report back to the Under Secretaries Committee. Depending on the specific subject, I would like representatives from EUR, J/PM and other elements of State, as required, to participate in the work of the group.

The following are the decisions taken:

1. A report should be prepared on the consequences of our having to withdraw from the Spanish bases in terms of possible cost, changes in strategy, etc. One alternative must be a return to CONUS.—DOD

2. A report should be prepared analyzing the present and immediately foreseeable limitations on our use of the bases—for example, our use in a possible Middle East crisis.—State (EUR and J/PM) with assistance from DOD

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3. A report should be prepared on possible future political constraints—changing complexion of Spanish Government—on use of the bases over the next five years. This report should include an indication of the Spanish desire for our continued presence.—State (EUR) with assistance from CIA

4. The Committee agreed that in their opinion it was not conceivable that the Administration would be willing to propose a security treaty, requiring Senate approval, as part of a base package. This conclusion will be incorporated in the final recommendation to the President.—State (EUR & L)

5. Although the question of a possible link with NATO has been discussed with the British, I agreed to raise this question once again with the British Ambassador. To prepare for such a talk, I will need proposals for the least visible kind of connection with NATO and arguments relating to the contribution that these bases make to NATO security as a whole.—State with assistance from DOD

6. It was agreed that a contingency plan should be prepared for the relocation of Torrejon activities to another Spanish base. This plan should include costs and a discussion of the pros and cons from both our point of view and the Spanish point of view. This trade-off possibility would be reserved for use in the political negotiations.—DOD

7. General Burchinal is to continue his discussions with the Spanish and to try and get as much information on Spanish desires as possible. He should make it clear that he is not negotiating these lists. He is then to submit his best estimate of Spanish military desires and also his own recommended list. General Burchinal was also cautioned not to discuss money values of equipment, but rather attempt to determine priorities for end-items.—Packard Working Group to backstop these talks.

8. There then should be a Washington review of the lists submitted by General Burchinal, the result of which will be a recommendation to the Under Secretaries Committee.—DOD with assistance from State, BOB, EX–IM and Treasury as appropriate.

9. In connection with the list review, consideration should be given to the implications of the Spanish hardware package for other base negotiations world-wide. If the recommendation is for an increased payment over the 1963 level, we will have to consider the effect of such an increase on countries such as the Philippines and Turkey. Also, consideration should be given to the feasibility of attempting to limit the use of hardware we make available to the Spanish, although most Committee members felt that any such limitation would be difficult, if not impossible, to introduce into the negotiations.

10. Consideration should be given in recommendations regarding military assistance to the funding arrangements for this base rental, i.e., MAP vs. Service funding.

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—Both 9. and 10. for action by DOD with assistance from State (J/PM, EUR) and BOB.

11. Wording should be developed for possible incorporation in the agreement which might indicate that if surpluses develop (understood to be post-Viet-Nam), increases could be considered in military assistance to Spain.—DOD and State (J/PM, EUR, and L)

12. We should develop terms of reference for a possible military consultative committee. General Burchinal is not to discuss this with the Spanish military but instead the matter is to be left for later political negotiations.—DOD with State (J/PM and EUR)

13. Contingency plans for withdrawal from the bases should be developed and include an accurate estimate of how quickly we could get out without unnecessary waste.—DOD

14. It was left open for later decision whether General Burchinal would have further talks with the Spanish military after Presidential approval of our negotiating position but prior to political negotiations.

15. It was agreed that General Burchinal would not raise the question of a possible extension of the agreement beyond March 26. If he is asked by the Spanish military, however, he should reply by explaining the factual problem—a new Administration, jointly agreed military talks still underway and therefore difficulty of meeting the March 26 deadline—but he should not in any way indicate a request on our part for an extension.

16. It was agreed that with all of these elements in hand, our next meeting on this subject would take place in early March to reach agreement on a recommendation to the President, including a recommendation on the composition of a negotiating team for the political talks.

I have asked Mr. Hartman to work out appropriate deadlines for these actions.

Elliot L. Richardson
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 706, Country Files—Europe, U.S.-Spanish Base Negotiations. Secret. The following attended the Under Secretaries Committee meeting on February 20: Packard and Earle (Defense), Wheeler and Orwat (JCS), Helms and Jessup (CIA), Haig and Allen (NSC), and Richardson, Johnson, Leddy, Landau, and Hartman (State).
  2. General David A. Burchinal, Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Europe, was special negotiator on Spanish bases issues. According to a February 19 memorandum from Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger: “For your lunch with Elliot Richardson you should know the following: Secretary Laird called State today to say that he had asked Packard to set up a group to monitor the Spanish base question and invited State to send John Leddy to a meeting. State got worried and pointed out that the responsibility was with the Undersecretaries group, that if Defense wanted to set up an internal group on this question this was all right. A meeting was then held at Defense with a State officer attending. It turned out that Laird’s main concern was to reign in General Burchinal who has gone further in holding out hopes of a security guarantee to the Spaniards than US policy provides for.” (Ibid.) Documentation on Laird’s approach to the Department of State is ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 15 SP–US.