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Office of the Historian

Law of the Sea


1. Report Prepared by the Interagency Law of the Sea Task Force, undated.

The memorandum reported on Law of the Sea discussions at the 1972 UN General Assembly and presented a negotiating plan for the U.S. delegation to the 1973 UN Seabed Committee meeting.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, L/OES Files: Lot 77 D 302, July/August 1973 Preparatory Meeting. Confidential. This report was found attached to a March 16, 1973 memorandum from Kissinger to Richardson, Dent, Morton, and Rogers indicating that the document comprised the response to NSDM 196. NSDM 196 is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–1, Documents on Global Issues 1969–72, Document 443.


2. Memorandum From the Acting Chairman of the Law of the Sea Task Force (Brower) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, June 1, 1973.

Brower forwarded a report on the March–April meeting of the UN Seabed Committee and summarized for Kissinger the recommended negotiating positions for the July–August Law of the Sea Conference preparatory meeting.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33–8. Secret. Drafted by Camitta; cleared in L, L/OA, S/FW–COA, IO/UNP, SCI/EN, and at the National Science Foundation, the Council for Environmental Quality, and the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Transportation, Interior, and Treasury. Attachment 1, undated and unsigned, is not published. Nixon’s May 23, 1970 Statement About United States Oceans Policy is published in Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 454–456.


3. Memorandum NSCU/DM–109 From the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Rush) to President Nixon, Washington, July 11, 1973.

The Under Secretaries Committee recommended approval of instructions for the July–August Law of the Sea preparatory conference, with the proviso that concerns about economic issues raised by the Department of the Treasury required further review.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–241, NSDM 225, LOS Preparatory Conference. Secret.


4. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, undated.

Kissinger recommended approval of the U.S. delegation’s instructions for the July–August 1973 Law of the Sea preparatory conference and forwarded a summary of the delegation’s proposed positions.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–241, NSDM 225, LOS Preparatory Conference. Secret. Sent for action. Clift forwarded the memorandum and its attachments to Kissinger under a covering memorandum of July 12. Tab 1 is published as Document 5. Tab 2 is published as Document 3. Kissinger initialed approval for Nixon.


5. National Security Decision Memorandum 225, Washington, July 16, 1973.

Kissinger approved the recommended instructions for the U.S. delegation to the July–August Law of the Sea preparatory conference.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–241, NSDM 225, LOS Preparatory Conference. Secret. Copies were sent to the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of the National Science Foundation, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs. The USC Chairman’s memorandum is published as Document 3. A summary of the recommended instructions is published as Document 2.


6. Airgram A–7576 From the Department of State to All Diplomatic Posts, Washington, September 4, 1973.

Acting Secretary Rush forwarded the final report of the U.S. Delegation to the July/August 1973 Seabed Committee Session, which also acted as a preparatory conference for the UNCLOS III.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–1973, POL 33–8, 9–17–73. Confidential. Drafted by Leitzell; cleared by Stevenson, S/FW–COA, L/OA, JCS, Defense, Interior, NOAA, NSF, CEQ, Treasury, and the Coast Guard; and approved by Moore. A copy was sent to Hong Kong.


7. Memorandum NSCU/DM–109A From the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Rush) to President Nixon, Washington, November 1, 1973.

Rush transmitted for consideration the proposed instructions for the U.S. delegation to the organizational session of UNCLOS III.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–243, NSDM 240, 2 of 2. Confidential. NSDM 225 is published as Document 5. The report of the July/August Session of the UN Seabed Committee is published as Document 6.


8. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, November 30, 1973.

Kissinger summarized the U.S. delegation’s instructions for the upcoming organizational session of UNCLOS III and recommended Nixon’s approval.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–243, NSDM 240, 2 of 2. Confidential. Sent for action. Nixon initialed his approval. NSDM 225 is published as Document 5. Tab A, as signed, is published as Document 9. Tab B is published as Document 7.


9. National Security Decision Memorandum 240, Washington, December 3, 1973.

Kissinger transmitted the approval of instructions for the guidance of the U.S. delegation to the organizational session of UNCLOS III, with a proviso to avoid procedures allowing premature substantive voting.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, NSDM, Nos. 145–264 (1972–1974). Secret. Copies were sent to the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of the National Science Foundation, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs. The Under Secretaries Committee Chairman’s memorandum of November 11 is published as Document 7. NSDM 225 is published as Document 5.


10. Report of the U.S. Delegation to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea Organizational Session, New York, December 3–15, 1973.

The report summarized the negotiations at the UNCLOS III Organizational Session and assessed the results with regard to U.S. interests.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P740084–2149. No classification marking. Stevenson forwarded the report to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger under a covering memorandum of March 14, 1974.


11. Analytical Study OPR–3 Prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, April 1974.

The CIA study examined important issues and interests likely to arise in the course of UNCLOS III negotiations.

Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–0011, 801.2 (April–December 1974). Confidential. A note on the study dated April 9 indicates that Schlesinger saw it. Colby forwarded the study to Schlesinger under a covering memorandum, April 15, which began, "Here is a paper that manages, in relatively short compass, to put the complicated and controversial Law of the Sea question into a useful analytical framework." The Office of Political Research, Directorate of Intelligence drafted the study, according to Colby’s memorandum.


12. Memorandum NSCU/DM–109B From the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Rush) to President Nixon, Washington, May 14, 1974.

Rush transmitted for Nixon’s consideration documents concerning the first (Caracas) session of UNCLOS III.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–243, NSDM 240, Recommended Instructions to UNCLOS III. Secret. The full (122 page) report and the two Comments sections are not published. The July 11, 1973 memorandum from Rush to Nixon is published as Document 3. NSDM 225 is published as Document 5. NSDM 240 is published as Document 9. The following NSDMs are published in Foreign Relations, 1969–76, volume E–1, Documents on Global Issues 1969–72, Documents 375, 405, 424, and 434. The memorandum summarizing the report of June 20, 1972 is published as Document 433. Nixon’s May 23, 1970 Statement About United States Oceans Policy is in Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 454–456. A summary of the Draft UN Convention on the International Seabed Area and accompanying statements by U.S. officials are published in Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1970, pp. 209–218. The "1958 model" refers to the four separate conventions which resulted from the First United Nations Conference of the Law of the Sea, held in Geneva during 1958: the Convention on the High Seas, the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Convention on the Continental Shelf, and the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources on the High Seas.


13. Minutes of the Acting Secretary of State’s Analytical Staff Meeting, Washington, June 17, 1974, 3–4 p.m.

Department principals discussed issues relating to the UNCLOS III negotiations.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 3, Acting Secretary’s Analytical Staff Meeting, June 17, 1974. Secret. Israel asserted that the Straits of Tiran should be treated as an international strait, open to seagoing and airborne passage by vessels of all countries. Egypt and Saudi Arabia both claimed islands at the entrance to the strait and the surrounding waters as territorial sea, and neither recognized Israel’s claim to the right of innocent passage. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan were not signatories to the 1958 Convention on the High Seas or the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone. Israel was a party to both those agreements.


14. National Security Decision Memorandum 260, Washington, June 24, 1974.

Nixon approved instructions for the U.S. delegation to the first substantive session of UNCLOS III (Caracas), subject to additional guidance on several issues.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, NSDM (1971–1974), Nos. 145–264 (1972–1974) [1 of 2]. Secret. Copies were sent to the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of the National Science Foundation, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Counselor to the President for Economic Policy. The May 14 recommended instructions are published as Document 12. NSDM 240 is published as Document 9. Haig forwarded the NSDM to Nixon under a memorandum, June 22, which read as follows, "Attached is a far-reaching and somewhat controversial NSDM containing instructions for the Third United Nations Law of the Sea Conference. Because of its importance, I believe you will want to read it carefully. Although Ash and your economic advisers clearly differ with Henry [Kissinger] on a number of details, I believe the Under Secretaries/NSC position is sufficiently protective to warrant your approval of the NSDM as written." Nixon wrote in the margin, "I go along with K [Kissinger] but be sure Ash knows his views are to be strongly presented to our negotiators [illegible] stiffen them where necessary and to go to them where we can."


15. Memorandum of Conversation, Magdalena de Kino, Mexico, October 21, 1974, noon–2:30 p.m.

Ford and Echeverría discussed Law of the Sea matters, with particular emphasis on the patrimonial sea concept.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 6, October 21, 1974–Ford, Kissinger, Mexican President Luis Echeverría. Secret; Exdis. An attached November 2 covering memorandum from Springsteen to Scowcroft indicates the location of the meeting. On October 21 Ford and Echeverría held a series of meetings at sites on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border to discuss a variety of bilateral issues, see Department of State Bulletin, November 18, 1974, pp. 661–667.


16. Memorandum NSCU/DM–109D From the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Ingersoll) to President Ford, Washington, February 6, 1975.

Ingersoll transmitted the report of the delegation to the June 20–August 29, 1974 (Caracas) UNCLOS III session.

Source: Department of State, RG 59, L/OES Files: Lot 79 D 163, LOS Conference General 1975, Undated–February 11, 1975. Confidential. Only the summary of the 29-page report is published. NSDM 260 is published as Document 14.


17. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford, Washington, March 14, 1975.

Kissinger summarized for the President multiple documents concerning instructions for the U.S. delegation to the 1975 (Geneva) UNCLOS III session and submitted his recommendations.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs Staff, Box 54, General Subject File, Ocean Policy, 1975 (3). Secret. Sent for action. Ford initialed his approval. Tab A is published as Document 18. Attached but not published are Ingersoll’s March 4 memorandum (Tab B) and its attachments (Tabs A and C). NSDM 260 is published as Document 14.


18. National Security Decision Memorandum 288, Washington, March 24, 1975.

Kissinger sent the approved instructions for the U.S. delegation to the 1975 (Geneva) session of UNCLOS III to the relevant Cabinet officers and officials.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, National Security Decision and Study Memoranda, Box 1, NSDM 288. Secret. Scowcroft signed for Kissinger. Copies were sent to the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of the National Science Foundation, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Document 17 summarizes the referenced negotiating instructions, the agency comments and Ingersoll’s memorandum.


19. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford, Washington, July 8, 1975.

Kissinger informed Ford of the principal developments during the March 17–May 19, 1975 (Geneva) UNCLOS III negotiations and summarized outstanding problems and issues.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs Staff, Box 55, General Subject File, Ocean Policy, 1975 (9). Secret. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum. Attached but not published at Tab A is Ingersoll’s June 2 memorandum forwarding the U.S. delegation’s summary report to the President. For Tab B, which is attached but not published, see UN Document A/CONF.62.WP.8/ Parts 1–III. NSDM 288 is published as Document 18.


20. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, October 7, 1975, 8:05–9:20 a.m.

Ford and selected members of his Cabinet met with Republican Congressional leaders to discuss potential 200-mile fisheries legislation.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 15, October 7, 1975–Ford, Kissinger, Republican Congressional Leaders. Top Secret. Attached but not published is the additional list of 25 Republican Congressional leaders. See Document 15 for negotiations with Mexico regarding territorial waters.


21. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, October 7, 1975, 9:40–10:18 a.m.

Ford, Kissinger, and Scowcroft discussed the meeting earlier that day with Congressional Republican leaders concerning potential 200-mile fisheries legislation.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 15, October 7, 1975–Ford, Kissinger. Secret; Nodis.


22. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, October 7, 1975, 10:30 a.m.

Ford and Scowcroft met with a Congressional delegation regarding potential 200-mile fisheries legislation.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 15, October 7, 1975–Ford, Congressional Group on Fisheries. Confidential. All brackets are in the original.


23. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, November 19, 1975, 11:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Ford and selected advisers met with a Congressional delegation regarding impending 200-mile fisheries legislation.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 16, November 19, 1975–Ford, Congressional 200-Mile Limit Group. Secret. The referenced charts were not found. Ford’s statement regarding remarks made in Oregon apparently refers to his August 30 speech about the 200 mile limit, which was actually given in Portland, Maine. (Public Papers: Ford, 1975, pp. 1253–1258),. Kissinger’s Montreal statement is in Department of State Bulletin, September 18, 1975, pp. 353–362.


24. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford, Washington, March 1, 1976.

Scowcroft summarized the proposed instructions to guide the U.S. delegation to the March–May 1976 (New York) UNCLOS III session and recommended approval.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential File of NSC Logged Documents, Box 33, IF/NS File for the President, 7600948—Instructions for Law of the Sea. Secret. Ford initialed his approval. NSDM 260 is published as Document 14. NSDM 288 is published as Document 18. Tab A is published as Document 25. Tabs B and C are published with this document.


25. National Security Decision Memorandum 320, Washington, March 4, 1976.

Ford approved instructions for the U.S. delegation to the March–May 1976 (New York) session of UNCLOS III.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, National Security Decision and Study Memoranda, Box 1, NSDM 320. Secret. Copies were sent to the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of the National Science Foundation, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. NSDM 260 is published as Document 14. NSDM 288 is published as Document 18.


26. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Ford, Washington, April 6, 1976.

Kissinger explained the reasons why he believed Ford should veto a bill extending U.S. fisheries jurisdiction to 200 miles.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P760050–1559. Confidential. The draft veto statement has not been published.


27. Telegram 85109 From the Department of State to All Diplomatic Posts, April 8, 1976, 2040Z.

The telegram summarized the contents of a speech delivered by Kissinger concerning Law of the Sea negotiations, requested posts to communicate with host governments about the issue, and issued additional guidance for selected posts.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Drafted and approved in S/P by Veliotes; and cleared in D/LOS, EUR/RPE, AF/I, EA/J, NEA/RA, EUR/WE, and ARA/LA/PLC. Kissinger’s speech is published in Department of State Bulletin, April 26, 1976, pp. 533–542.


28. Memorandum From Denis Clift of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft), Washington, April 9, 1976.

Clift outlined the arguments for and against vetoing 200-mile fisheries legislation placed before Ford for signature.

Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs Staff, Box 57, General Subject Files, Ocean Policy, 1976 (10). Confidential. Sent for action. Scowcroft initialed the memorandum. Tab A was not found. On April 13, President Ford signed the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, which provided that as of March 1, 1977, Congressionally-approved agreements with other governments were required for foreign vessels to fish within a 200 mile zone established by the Act. In addition to signing the Act, Ford simultaneously issued a statement of concern, published in Public Papers: Ford, 1976, pp. 1118–1121.


29. Telegram 1508 From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State, April 12, 1976, 1936Z.

The Mission reported reactions to Kissinger’s April 8 speech concerning UNCLOS III negotiations.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information to the embassies in London, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Nairobi, Ottawa, Cairo, Bonn, Jakarta, Brasilia, Lima, Vienna, Singapore, Dar Es Salaam, Madrid, Jidda, Santiago, and Mexico City. For Kissinger’s speech, see the source note for Document 27.


30. CIA Working Paper on Law of the Sea Negotiations, Washington, June 1976.

The Working Paper summarized the accomplishments of previous UNCLOS III negotiations and assessed the prospects for the August–September 1976 (New York) session.

Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 92T00480R, Office of Current Intelligence Files (OPI 16), ER M 76–10461. Confidential; Noforn.