80. Telegram 37575 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran1
37575. For Ambassador from Sisco. Subject: Assistance for Morocco. References: A—Amman 687; B—Amman 689; C—Amman 699; D—Tehran 1267; E—State 201455 (Notal).
1. Dept and DOD are giving urgent consideration to GOI proposals for possible transfer of items on GOM shopping list to Morocco. Action, however, complicated by many factors including unavailability of early replacements, inevitability of Congressional and press attention to transfers, logistical and political problems associated with transport of equipment and cost factors. These questions are addressed in detail below and you should discuss them with appropriate GOI officials in accordance with following guidelines.
2. U.S. policy is basically sympathetic to Moroccan solution to Sahara problem based on Spanish-Moroccan-Mauritanian Tripartite Agreement and UNGA Resolution recognizing that agreement for which U.S. voted in UNGA. We also support current mediation efforts by UN Secretary General Waldheim’s representative and by several Arab countries seeking to reconcile GOA and GOM differences on self-determination issue. However, we recognize that military balance in area overwhelmingly in Algeria’s favor, and, in view of our long-standing friendly association with Morocco and concomitant military supply relationship, we want to lend appropriate support. Our intention is to be as responsive as possible to Morocco to help in part to offset imbalance vis-à-vis Algeria while avoiding highly visible emergency supply of U.S. equipment which would make it appear USG injecting itself into dispute at time that regional and UN diplomatic efforts are in train.
3. You should inform GOI that following general considerations would apply to transfers of items mentioned Ref D.
A. Replacements for most items in Moroccan request list could not rpt not be furnished quickly because of lengthy production lead times ranging from 20 to 48 months in many cases. USG is unable to expedite these items due to firm commitments to U.S. forces and other countries.[Page 212]
B. Replacement costs on all items would exceed original costs to Iran, and USG has no rpt no funds from which to absorb added costs.
C. Responsibility for maintenance status of the equipment selected for transfer must necessarily rest with countries involved.
D. Transfers of U.S. supplied equipment from Iran whether to Jordan or direct to Morocco must be notified to Congress. You should be sure GOI fully understands that this legislative requirement makes it inevitable that transactions will come to the attention of Congress and public and might attract criticism. Transfer procedures outlined in Ref E.
E. GOI should submit diplomatic note or other written request through MFA or Ministry of Defense to Embassy formally asking authorization to effect transfers in question to Jordan, unless they wish on reflection to transfer directly to GOM. (FYI: As you are aware, we would then need to meet statutory requirements of advance notification to Congress and receipt of transfer assurances from recipient. End FYI.)
F. Transport of items, particularly aircraft, whether latter sent directly from Iran or via Jordan, poses practical difficulties. If GOI raises question of U.S. airlift, you should say you must refer question to Washington.
In this connection, you might inquire whether GOI has explored possibilities of assistance in arranging airlift from Saudis and other friendly Arab states with capability. (FYI: Transport by USAF aircraft would be very costly; rough estimate around $3.7 million. End FYI.)
4. Specific items: Inform GOI of following:
A. 16 155 mm howitzers and ammunition—USG will approve transfer from Iran to Morocco, either via Jordan or direct as soon as US statutory requirements are met and arrangements can be made. Remind GOI that even if routed via Jordan, transfer would eventually become public information for reasons cited para 3D. Also, inform GOI that we could not replace howitzers from GOM orders until fourth quarter CY 77. One possibility for such transfer would be to divert 12 155 howitzers now in process of being shipped from US port to Iran.
B. 4 or 5 F–5As with munitions (GOI not requesting replacement). In principle we favor this transfer from Iran to Jordan to Morocco. If GOI should opt for direct shipment, what is GOI estimate of time needed to prepare planes for ferrying, or alternatively to disassemble and later reassemble them in Morocco. If planes are ferried, overflight and landing/refueling arrangements would have to be made with Saudi Arabia, Greece, Italy and Spain. USG would be prepared to support GOI or GOJ requests for overflight clearance.
C. We are in principle agreeable to transfer to Morocco of other items in Iranian inventory but must study further the problems of re[Page 213]placement availability and financing. This we are doing on urgent basis. Preliminary survey reveals Moroccan payback based on current production/delivery schedules (LOA’s already signed) could be as follows for some of other items on GOM list:
TOW—launchers, missiles—4th qtr CY 76
16 155 mm M109A2 howitzers (GOM order calls for M109A1B)—4th qtr CY 77
4 million 7.62 NATO rounds—3 months general lead-time (no deliveries pending for Morocco)
12,800 155 mm shells (10 smoke or phosphorus, 10 illuminating, 70 explosives, 10 training)—3 months general lead-time (no deliveries pending for Morocco)
5. Embassy should inform GOI immediately of proposed favorable decisions on transfer of 16 howitzers and ammo and of F–5As to GOJ or GOM. After explaining carefully conditions and ramifications outlined paras 3 and 4, Embassy should ascertain whether GOI wants to proceed with the transfers in question and advise that Dept will not rpt not initiate steps to effect transfers until it receives GOI assurances in this regard.
Summary: The Department informed the Embassy of complications and general considerations associated with the transfer of equipment from Iran to Morocco.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Weislogel; cleared by Atherton, Stern, Noyes, and MacFarlane; and approved by Sisco. Repeated to Amman and Rabat.↩