296. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Spanish Base Negotiations: Agreement in Sight But Congressional Problem Looms

The negotiations with the Spanish have entered the final phase. This memo reviews the status and prospects, and encloses a cable from Secretary Laird.

On June 23 Secretary Laird sent an eyes only cable to Secretary Rogers, Deputy Secretary Packard, General Wheeler and you in which he reports his conclusions following his visit to Spain (Tab A). The Secretary will return to the US on June 26, after a stay in the UK. He is convinced that now is the time to move on the agreement. As a result of three meetings with Lopez Bravo (only one of which has been reported),2 the Secretary concludes that the controlling issue for the Spanish is US agreement on supply of two F–4C squadrons. The Spanish will modify other military demands if we agree on the aircraft. He [Page 914] wants to get the agreement firmed up within ten days. Lopez Bravo impressed on him that a July 1 date is important because he must face the Cortes shortly thereafter, and also he feared the existing ExIm Bank credits for Spain would expire on June 30.

The aircraft issue is clearly the essential item for the Spanish in their military quid pro quo list. Spanish General Diez Alegria indicated earlier this month in Washington3 that if we could agree to give one F–4C squadron, coupled with Spanish purchase of another, the other military package issues causing trouble would fall into line. It is also clear that on the Spanish side the approval of the military package is now completely in the hands of Vice President Carrero Blanco, Franco’s heir-apparent, and the military ministers. Fortunately, Defense is prepared to agree to the F–4C deal. Deputy Defense Packard informed Alex Johnson on June 17 of Defense’s agreement to furnish a second squadron on a grant aid basis, but cautioned that the arrangement must remain classified to avoid facing pressure from other allies (Greece, Turkey and ROC) for equal treatment (Packard’s letter is at Tab B). Other difficulties still remain in fulfilling the military equipment demands of the Spanish (the final list was given to Secretary Laird on June 18 and Alex Johnson on June 20, copy at Tab C), but they probably can be resolved once we advise the Spanish we can agree to the aircraft package.

Lopez Bravo’s fixation on a July 1 date seems to have been mostly designed to pressure us on concessions on the military package. His appearance before the Cortes is not quite as critical as he suggested. Further, the question of the ExIm Bank credit extension has been resolved: Ambassador Arguelles wrote to Mr. Kearns, and the credits have been extended into the new fiscal year. Another Spanish gambit to apply pressure on us was the more than coincidental arrival of French Defense Minister Debré in Madrid on June 22 (while Secretary Laird was still in Spain) to sign the Franco-Spanish military cooperation agreement. The French have told us that the Spanish idea for the Debré visit came as a surprise just a few days before. Lopez Bravo pressed another pressure point by telling Secretary Laird that if we could not meet Spanish military requirements, our operations would have to be phased down, beginning with the removal of the large air base at Torrejon.

Aside from the military quid pro quo, some points on the non-military side must still be resolved. The Spanish have just presented a proposal for US assistance in training higher education teachers—with a price tag of $79 million. (They, of course, have no ex[Page 915]pectation that we could provide any program of that magnitude.) Deputy Defense Secretary Packard wrote to Alex Johnson on June 20 (Tab D) indicating he was prepared to make available up to $3 million from the DOD FY 70 contingency fund for use in the non-military quid pro package. State will be working up a counter-proposal to the Spanish for a pilot project in educational assistance, drawing on these DOD contingency funds. This will enable State and other agencies to fund educational projects in their FY 72 budgets.

A final potential difficulty in concluding the agreement relates to a letter outlining the proposed joint air control and coordination system. Earlier in the negotiations, Alex Johnson had provided Ambassador Arguelles (at Spanish request) with a confidential letter outlining the functions of the system and proposing that the US be given the specific mission of the defense of Spanish air space where US forces are stationed (copy of the letter at Tab E). This letter was intended to be part of the confidential negotiating history of the agreement. The Spanish now want Secretary Rogers to sign the letter, which would imply that it is an integral part of the agreement. There is a fear that if we accepted the Spanish demand, the letter would ultimately be leaked and would cause great congressional difficulties. State and Defense are reasonably confident that full agreement can be reached with the Spanish on all essential parts of the total quid pro quo package and the text of the agreement within the next 2–3 weeks.

After agreement is reached with the Spanish, the most difficult obstacle will be the Congress. In an earlier memo (log #10846)4 I reported on the issue of whether the agreement will be in treaty form or executive agreement form, or whether Congressional approval will be sought by means of a joint resolution (by simple majority of both Houses). During his visit to Spain, Secretary Rogers told the Spanish that he considered a treaty form more desirable, though he made clear that no decision had been taken as to form. The text of the draft agreement (Tab F) is very broad in scope, providing for cooperative efforts in culture, education, science, environmental problems, agriculture, economics, as well as the military cooperation. It can be argued that the total impression made by the agreement is that of an alliance, which the Senate would claim should be submitted for approval as a treaty. State’s Legal Adviser considers that the conclusion of the proposed agreement as a pure executive agreement can be defended as a legal matter.

Apparently, Secretary Rogers and Under Secretary Johnson plan to meet with Senator Fulbright as soon as the full Spanish package has been worked out to take a sounding on the treaty/executive agreement [Page 916] question. There is no indication that the Secretary intends to seek White House guidance prior to his meeting with Fulbright. At this point the most probable outcome will be for the agreement to be signed (but not yet enter into force) and then submitted to both Houses of Congress for approval by joint resolution. Although there is no direct precedent for submitting an agreement of this character to Congress for approval by joint resolution after signature, there is also no direct precedent for this unique type of agreement.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 705, Country Files—Europe, Spain, Vol. II. Secret. Sent for information. The tabs are not printed.
  2. Reported in telegram 2970 from Madrid, June 18. (Ibid.)
  3. These discussions were reported in telegram 91587 to Madrid, June 12. (Ibid.)
  4. Not found.
  5. Kissinger wrote a note on the first page: “Make sure there is W[hite] H[ouse] guidance as to the type of agreement.”