226. Briefing Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Springsteen) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Possible Pressure Points on the U.K.

Some actions which might be taken against the United Kingdom to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with their performance as an ally are listed below in increasing order of severity. The more severe the measure, the more clearly can its punitive nature be seen, and as significant British interests become more seriously affected, the less becomes the likelihood that our actions will favorably influence future British actions. The opposite effect is, in fact, more probable: harsh actions on our part, particularly if they are perceived by the British as overreactions, are likely to produce either retaliation or non-support of our initiatives in other fields—or both. An erosion of the close working relationships we have with the British at all levels would be an inevitable result. The value of such actions on our part, even as object lessons to others, must, therefore, be weighed carefully against likely negative effects so that US interests are, on the whole, advanced, not set back.

In the case of the UK, our official contacts, cooperative defense arrangements, economic relationships, and scientific and cultural interchange are so multifaceted that it would be essentially impossible to draw up an exhaustive list of options. The responses outlined below are, therefore, illustrative of one graduated series, useful in that they probably would not require new or modified legislation.


Paper Prepared in the Department of State

Washington, undated.

1. Call In the British Ambassador to Receive an Oral Démarche.

The simplest step of all, involving action only by the Secretary, or the Deputy Secretary, could make clear to Lord Cromer that we object [Page 725] to the lack of support we received from the UK in our efforts to maintain the military balance in the Middle East and ask that our dissatisfaction be communicated to his authorities. This minimal response has the advantage of not rupturing any existing contact or cooperative USUK arrangement.

Implementation: Delivery of démarche by the Secretary or Deputy Secretary at prearranged appointment.

Disadvantage: It is mild and may fail adequately to reflect the depth of our dissatisfaction.

2. Cancel Any Scheduled Visits to the UK by US Cabinet and Sub-cabinet Officers and General Officers of the Armed Forces.

Do the same with comparable UK visits to the US (none currently scheduled) or, should this prove impracticable, decline appointments for such visitors with US counterparts and restrict them to contacts lower in rank than themselves.

Implementation: Executive order to all agencies.

Disadvantage: This requires cooperation by other executive agencies and would necessitate White House coordination.

3. Cancel Bilateral Contacts at International Meetings.

The first such meeting now scheduled will be that between Dr. Schlesinger and Lord Carrington at the November NPG session.

Implementation: Executive order to all agencies.

Disadvantage: Dr. Schlesinger may have urgent business to conduct.

4. Restrict UK Embassy Contacts to the Office Director Level, or Equivalent Throughout the Government.

This has proved to be an effective signal of dissatisfaction.

Implementation: Same as above.

Disadvantage: Given the size of the UK Mission and the extensive range of its contacts, this would be difficult to coordinate with all agencies. Further, since the Mission maintains extensive congressional contacts, this would leave high-level consultations with the British to the Legislative Branch at the expense of the Executive.

5. Cancel All Official Cultural Exchange and Leader-Grant Programs.

This would be a signal easily visible to all of British officialdom. It would also be practically immune to direct retaliation.

Implementation: Same as above.

Disadvantage: It would deprive us of a valuable source of influence on middle-level leaders and executives, the full adverse impact of which would not become evident for several years.

6. Delay as Long as Possible Favorable Action on Pending CAB Cases Concerning the UK.

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A good example of such a step would be delay, or unfavorable action, on the Laker charter aircraft case now before the Board.

Implementation: Executive order to CAB.

Disadvantage: The British would almost surely retaliate against our civil airlines if it became apparent that we were deliberately acting against their interests.

7. Refuse to Sell the British Satellite Launch Services at US Space Facilities.

This would deal a severe blow to the UK space effort.

Implementation: Executive order to NASA; info to Foreign Affairs agencies.

Disadvantage: This action entails almost total disadvantage to the US in that we very much want foreign participation in joint projects such as Space Lab. The future space shuttle, seen as an excellent foreign exchange earner from the sale of launch services, would also be adversely affected.

8. Encourage State and Municipal Authorities to Set Aircraft Noise and Engine Emmission Standards (or Promulgate Federal Standards to the Same Effect) which Would Exclude the Concorde Supersonic Aircraft from Use of US Airports.

Inability to fly on the North Atlantic routes would probably be the final nail in the Concorde coffin. Although the project is unlikely to be commercially viable at any rate, US action in the standards field would be a clear blow to UK (and French) aspirations for the future of the European aircraft industry. Both countries are already fearful of US action in this area.

Implementation: Coordination with governors and mayors of major urban areas by selected federal agencies such as DOT, FAA, etc.

Disadvantage: Retaliation against US aircraft imports and/or civil airlines would be certain to follow.

9. Openly Support the Spanish Position on Gibraltar.

This action would be a clear signal to the British and, at the same time, gain us points with the Spanish.

Implementation: Telegraphic instructions to EUR posts to inform host countries of our position and to seek support for it. Public announcements by the President and the Secretaries of State and Defense.

Disadvantage: The use of Gibraltar by NATO naval units could be put in jeopardy.

10. Recall Ambassador Annenberg for Indefinite Consultations.

This would be a highly visible signal of US displeasure if coupled with a specific public announcement. Otherwise, it could be construed [Page 727] as simply an unremarkable absence of the Ambassador on business or leave.

Implementation: Telegram from the Secretary to the Ambassador.

Disadvantage: Since the step would be unprecedented in recent times, if not indeed since 1812, it would result in violent damage to our close relations with the British.

11. Use Bilateral Leverage With the Other Eight Community Members to Opt for Regional Policies Which Would Not Favor the UK.

The British hope to see Community policy on regional development evolve along lines favorable to their depressed areas in Wales, Scotland, and certain parts of the Midlands. This was a selling point used by the Heath Administration before joining the EC. This could be accomplished either by altering the criteria used for qualifying investment projects for EC regional aid or by delaying full operation of the regional fund until late 1975 (Heath must hold a general election before June, 1975).

Implementation: Telegraphic instructions to EC Capitals, USEC, and NATO to use discreet influence to affect Commission decisions and Member positions. Great tact would be required.

Disadvantage: If our actions, which would go for Heath’s political jugular, were perceived, severe retaliation against US interests would be swift and certain.

12. Reimpose Agricultural Export Controls on Selected Products Such as Feed Grains.

This could be done across the board or by application to the UK only. The latter would be most effective but difficult to apply since intra-Community trade flows in these products could still occur.

Implementation: Executive order to Department of Agriculture, Treasury, and Customs; info to Foreign Affairs Agencies. Prior consultation and liaison with the Congress would be essential and would have to be carried out principally by the White House staff, supplemented by Agriculture, Treasury and State.

Disadvantage: In either case, our action would strengthen protectionist forces in the Community in maintaining, or raising, CAP price supports. This would run counter to UK hopes to lower price supports and, hence, food costs to the UK consumer and impact adversely on the Heath administration.

13. Cancel the Information Exchange Provisions of the USUK Nuclear Agreement.

Before the end of 1973 either side can give notice of cancellation; hence action would have to be taken before January 1, 1974.

Implementation: Executive order to State and Defense.

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Disadvantage: Total unravelling of the present USUK defense cooperation in nuclear affairs would be likely.

14. Encourage and Aid US Pressure Groups Who are Anti-British on the Issue of Northern Ireland, and Officially Condemn Continued British Presence in the Province.

This would complicate, and perhaps even nullify, British efforts to return the province to a state of law and order. The final result would likely be total British withdrawal.

Implementation: Coordination between domestic federal agencies, such as Justice, and congressional leaders already favorable to the “Irish Lobby.” Public announcements by the President and cabinet officers. Pressure on host governments by our Ambassador to support our efforts.

Disadvantage: Continued suffering by the Ulster population, and severe hostility to the US in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

15. Let Lapse the Nuclear Material Exchange Provisions in the USUK Nuclear Agreement.

This would signal the end of USUK cooperation in this field and put into question the future of the UK nuclear deterrent. Ramifications for European defense are imponderable since all present Alliance arrangements would be called into question.

Implementation: Executive order to DOD and Foreign Affairs Agencies. Prior consultation and liaison with the Congress would be required.

Disadvantage: This step would totally unravel USUK cooperative arrangements in the nuclear field.

16. Cancel All Intelligence Exchange Between the US and UK.

Such action would be severely disadvantageous to the UK, particularly as regards electronic and satellite intelligence gathering.

Implementation: Same as above.

Disadvantage: All USUK defense cooperation would cease as a result.

  1. Summary: Springsteen discussed attached pressure point options in light of British policies during the October 1973 Middle East war.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–1973, POL UKUS. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Carroll Floyd in EUR/NE on October 29; with concurrences by William A. Buell in EUR/NE and Stabler.