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


  • Negotiations on Spanish Bases

The Spanish base issue is again becoming an urgent matter. You will recall that the agreement providing for U.S. facilities and rights in Spain will expire in September 1970 and that efforts to arrive at an agreement last spring were abortive. Therefore, negotiations for an agreement providing for the status of U.S. military presence in Spain in the 70s must begin soon. At the moment, we still have no agreed-upon negotiating position and decisions will have to be taken very soon on the type of military relationship we need and want with Spain for the 70s. We will also need an assessment of which facilities in Spain are re [Page 893] quired in the light of a realistic judgment of our ability to offer an acceptable quid pro quo.

Last year, it became evident that the future of our bases in Spain is a highly charged issue, both within the bureaucracy and on the Hill. There are elements both within State and the Congress who will do their utmost to terminate our presence there. This attitude has surfaced most recently with respect to the timing of our formal negotiations with the Spanish. Our Ambassador to Spain and the Deputy Commander of our Forces in Europe strongly support the initiation of negotiations very soon, while State is inclined to begin them later. Both Ambassador Hill and General Burchinal believe that the Spanish are eager to conclude an agreement soon and that we should make every effort to do so before the Symington Subcommittee hearings consider the Spanish issue with all the hoopla that will ensue.2 State, on the other hand, feels that the effects of the Symington Subcommittee hearings will be bad regardless of when the negotiations occur. All seem to agree, however, that the negotiations should be conducted in Madrid.

Since the Symington Subcommittee hearings on Spain are scheduled for February, I believe we should press to prepare the U.S. negotiating position this month so that negotiations can begin not later than February 1 before the Symington Subcommittee hearings occur and I am proceeding accordingly within the NSC framework.

It is very apparent that I will have to exercise some unusual leverage in the development of the NSC paper on Spain if you are to be presented with an objective formulation of options for your decision. In order to insure that I am proceeding in a manner responsive to your wishes, I would like to confirm my understanding of what I consider to be the essential ingredients of any acceptable policy option which you would wish to approve. These involve options which would:

—Not jeopardize the maintenance of continued good relations between the U.S. and the Government of Spain for the 70s.

—Provide for a continued, although perhaps scaled down U.S. military presence in Spain.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 704, Country Files—Europe, Spain, Vol. I. Secret; Limdis. Sent for action.
  2. Reference to the Subcommittee on Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad. Hearings on the Spanish base agreements held by the Committee on Foreign Relations, August 26, 1970, were printed as United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Spanish Base Agreement.
  3. The President initialed the Approve option. The date “Jan 12 1970” is stamped under his initials.