25. National Security Decision Memorandum 3201 2

TO:

  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of the Treasury
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Secretary of the Interior
  • The Secretary of Commerce
  • The Chairman, NSC Under Secretaries Committee

SUBJECT:

  • Instructions for the U.S. Delegation to the New York Session of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea

The President has reviewed the Chairman, NSC Under Secretaries Committee’s memorandum of February 13, 1976, concerning instructions for the U.S. Delegation to the New York session of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea.

In light of growing pressures in the United States and in a number of foreign countries to move unilaterally on several important issues under consideration in the Law of the Sea (LOS) Conference, the President underscores the importance attached to gaining broad international acceptance during negotiations in 1976 of U.S. oceans policy positions on national security issues, marine resources, scientific research, marine pollution, the regime for the deep seabed, and peaceful resolution of disputes.

The President concurs in the recommendation of the NSC Under Secretaries Committee that NSDMs 260 and 288 continue to serve as the basic instructions for the U.S. Delegation to the UN Law of the Sea Conference.

The President reaffirms the importance attached to gaining international acceptance of law of the sea provisions accommodating U.S. interests on freedom of navigation; unimpeded transit through, under and over international [Page 2]straits; and archipelagoes and other reasonable uses of the high seas. Subject to the consent of the senior Department of Defense representatives on the Delegation, the Chairman of the U.S. Delegation is authorized to exercise existing authority on these national security issues.

Recognizing the evolving nature of the negotiations in the LOS Conference on issues relating to the regime for the deep seabed and its resources, the President requests the Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to submit any requests for proposed new instructions or revisions to current instructions on this issue via the Chairman, NSC Under Secretaries Committee for consideration. In this context, the President has assigned responsibility to the Chairman, NSC Under Secretaries Committee for backstopping the UN negotiations on the law of the sea.

The Chairman of the U.S. Delegation is requested to submit a report on the results of the negotiations via the Chairman, NSC Under Secretaries Committee, to the President, upon completion of the March-May 1976 session of the Law of the Sea Conference.

Brent Scowcroft
  1. 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. Ingersoll’s memorandum of February 13 is published as Tab B to Document 24. NSDM 260 is published as Document 14. NSDM 288 is published as Document 18.
  2. Ford approved instructions for the U.S. delegation to the March–May 1976 (New York) session of UNCLOS III.