In response to an inquiry from Len Meeker about a year ago, we have had the security implications of the continental shelf question under intensive review. It now appears that the thrust of international affairs as well as the terms of the 1958 Geneva Convention will require a review of the U.S. position on the outer limit of the continental shelf in the very near future. Therefore, it appears timely to send you the Department of Defense view of this subject, developed in coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Briefly, our view is the following. First, a continental shelf regime limited to the 200 meter isobath would be the most compatible with our national security interests. Second, if some alternative is required, we would prefer some limit [less than 1 line not declassified]. Third, no continental shelf regime [less than 1 line not declassified] should be considered. Fourth, regardless of where the outer limit of the continental shelf is fixed, there must be a clear reaffirmation of the continued freedom of the superjacent waters and air space beyond the limit of the territorial sea.
The interests of the United States would be best served if the territorial seas and straits questions were settled before any international agreement is reached on defining the outer limit of the continental shelf.
Attached is a short paper which sets forth the principal concerns which have influenced our views.