275. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • United States Position on Spanish Base Negotiations

Over last weekend we received the final recommendations of the Under Secretaries Committee for conclusion of the base negotiations with the Spanish (Tab A).2 The State memorandum is long and complex, as is the history of the problem. Here are what I regard as the key issues.

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1. Value of the Spanish Bases to US

Our facilities in Spain—comprising a naval base [less than 1 line not declassified] two active and one inactive air bases, and a number of miscellaneous communications, [less than 1 line not declassified] and logistics facilities—have a complement of roughly 10,000 men and cost about $400 million to create. The Under Secretaries Committee has concluded that, for the foreseeable future, the bases in Spain will remain “militarily of great importance” to our national security. If we chose to, or were required to, leave Spain, we would no doubt be able to develop military alternatives. But relocation would be a costly process (best estimates run about $300–350 million), and inevitably would involve at least a temporary loss [2 lines not declassified] to operate from the American mainland. However, the best judgment of all concerned is that it will be to our advantage to keep the Spanish bases at least through the end of the current base agreement in 1973.

2. Value of the Bases to the Spanish

The presence of our bases and military personnel in Spain is of great value to Spain, both financial and intangible. The Spanish derive some $50 million annually in foreign exchange from US base-linked expenditures there. In addition, the Spanish have received sizable grants of military assistance and training over the life of the agreement. From 1953–63 we provided Spain with $500 million in grant military assistance under MAP, in addition to roughly $500 million in economic assistance not directly related to the Defense Agreement.3 For the first five-year renewal from 1963–68, we supplied grant military assistance of roughly $100 million. Beyond these very considerable rewards, however, the Spanish gain international respectability through their participation in Western defense with the United States, a factor of great importance since Spain under Franco still has no chance for membership in NATO. Finally, while Spain assumes some risk in providing real estate for US bases, Spanish national security is thereby enhanced. The best judgment, therefore, is that the Spanish also have a strong interest in preserving the existing US base structure in Spain.

3. What Have We Been Arguing About?

Since both we and the Spanish agree that our relationship is beneficial and the bases should be preserved, it is not illogical to wonder why the agreement has not already been renewed. The answer is that we [Page 846] have been far apart on terms. The original Spanish proposal for renewal in June 1968 would have cost us about $1.2 billion, according to best US estimates. Our initial counter-offer in the September 1968 talks was $100 million in grant military assistance. By the end of last September the Spanish had lowered their position to roughly $700 million, and we had raised ours to about $140 million. It was at that point that the Spanish invoked the six-month limit on further negotiations to expire on March 26, 1969. As a result of the most recent military talks in Madrid, the Spanish shopping list has been reduced to approximately $568 million. The Under Secretaries Committee recommends that we go into the final negotiations with the Spanish—which can start as soon as we have established our position—with a ceiling of $175 million in grant military aid, plus up to $100 million in Ex-Im Bank credit or guarantees for Spanish military purchases from the US, plus an offer of possible Spanish purchase of post-Vietnam excess war matériel from us at no cost to the US.

4. Why We Think the Spanish Will Buy This Package

There have been definite indications that the Spanish have grown progressively nervous since the first of this year that the US might decide to reduce its presence drastically in Spain, or even pack up and go home. The original hard Spanish negotiating posture was basically associated with Foreign Minister Castiella; the progressive softening reflects the apprehension of the conservative and powerful Spanish military, who do not want to risk losing their link to the United States. Reading these signs, Ambassador Wagner has concluded that we now can negotiate a renewal with the Spanish on virtually our original terms. General Burchinal, who has been conducting the military talks in Madrid, feels on the other hand that we may have to pay something in the realm of $200–275 million in grant assistance. The Under Secretaries Committee in effect has taken the middle ground in its recommendation by raising the ceiling on grant aid to $175 million, and sweetening the package with an offer of credit assistance for an additional $100 million, and a promise of an option on post-Vietnam matériel. All things considered, I agree that this should be a saleable package.

5. Ancillary Issues

A. Security Guarantee

Negotiations with the Spanish have been complicated by a variety of ancillary issues, foremost among them the Spanish hint that costs of renewal could be materially reduced if the US were to offer Spain a mutual security treaty, or promote some form of Spanish membership or [Page 847] partial association with NATO. You made clear in your March 4 press conference that a new security guarantee to the Spanish was simply not in the cards.4 Explorations with our NATO allies have left no doubt that there is still widespread opposition to any form of Spanish accession to the North Atlantic Treaty. Thus, these elements do not form part of the final package.

B. US-Spanish Military Consultative Committee

In addition, the Spanish have asked for creation of a US-Spanish military consultative body, which would lend added legitimacy to their participation in Western defense. While such a body is not high on our desired list, the Under Secretaries Committee feels that we should include agreement to such a committee as an optional part of our negotiating position with the Spanish.

C. Closing of Torrejon

The Spanish have made noises periodically about the need to close the air base at Torrejon, near Madrid, ostensibly to reduce the danger to the inhabitants of the Spanish capital. This has never become a firm demand, however, and we have concluded that the Spanish military—who in the long run will probably have the final say on such matters—would be happy to have us stay in Torrejon.

D. Impact on Other Foreign Base Costs

The Bureau of the Budget is particularly worried lest the terms for renewal of the Spanish base agreement encourage other countries—especially the Philippines, Turkey, Greece, Ethiopia, Portugal, and Iran—to raise new demands for compensation for permitting US base rights. BoB has estimated that agreement on the upper limit of the final package recommended by the Under Secretaries Committee might increase demands from other host countries by $200 million or more over current planning levels in the next five years.5

E. Funding

Since the MAP budget has been declining steadily towards zero in past years, the addition of a substantially increased Spanish package might cause great problems in Congress, and possibly might make it impossible for us to follow through on the terms of our agreement with the Spanish. Hence the Under Secretaries Committee has recommended that cost of the Spanish program be shifted from MAP to the DOD budget.


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I concur in the following recommendations of the Under Secretaries Committee:

1. That you authorize the offer to Spain, subject to the availability of funds, of grant military matériel and services at a cost not to exceed $175 million over the remaining five-year period of the Spanish Defense Agreement, with the understanding that if we fail to obtain renewal of the agreement for that amount, it may be necessary to request your approval for additional funds.

2. That you approve the shifting of the Spanish program from the MAP budget to the DOD budget, with the understanding that we will seek Congressional approval and MAP funding for this purpose if Congress fails to agree to the proposed method.

3. That you approve the offer of military sales credits over the five-year period of up to $100 million in Ex-Im credit or guarantees, at normal Ex-Im bank rates and terms, should the Spanish so desire.

4. That you authorize an undertaking to Spain that we will review our military matériel resources by September 26, 1971, or following cessation of hostilities in Vietnam, whichever comes earlier, to determine whether and to what extent additional material could be provided to Spain over and above the amounts provided for in the renewed Defense Agreement. Any such equipment would be provided the Spanish on an “as is, where is” basis, at no budgetary cost to the US.

5. That you authorize, as a part of successful negotiations on renewal of the Defense Agreement, the establishment of a US-Spanish Military Consultative Committee, with the terms of reference and interagency control mechanism to be agreed by State and Defense.

6. That you decide against including a proposal to conclude a bilateral security treaty with Spain, requiring the advice and consent of the Senate, as a part of these negotiations.

7. That you decide against further efforts to solicit other NATO members to accept Spanish membership in, or association with, NATO institutions, as a part of these negotiations.

8. That you authorize a short extension, by Executive action, of the termination clauses of the present Defense Agreement by one or two months beyond March 26, 1969, if the Secretaries of State and Defense consider that this action would be useful in furthering early conclusion of these negotiations.

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9. That you authorize the Departments of State and Defense to conduct appropriate consultations with the Congress on those parts of the foregoing recommendations which you approve.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 706, Country Files—Europe, U.S.-Spanish Base Negotiations. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For text of this agreement, signed in Madrid September 26, 1953, see 14 UST 1876.
  4. For text of the President’s statement, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, p. 193.
  5. See Document 274.
  6. The President initialed the Approve option under the first three recommendations. For the subsequent six recommendations (numbers 4–9), he wrote on the memorandum: “OK RN”; a handwritten note beside the President’s note reads: “3/19/69 HAK told U/Secy Richardson. C[op]y sent Donald Lesh.”