198. Summary of a Study Prepared by the National Security Council Interdepartmental Group for Europe1


The transition to a new government headed by Carlos Arias Navarro, following the assassination of Carrero Blanco, took place in an atmosphere of calmness and confidence. The new Prime Minister is an experienced political hand and administrator who has proposed modest reforms which, if actually implemented, could make his government more acceptable both at home and abroad. No changes in Spanish foreign policy have been indicated, but in his public statements Arias has accorded Spain’s agreement with the U.S. more recognition than has been customary in the recent past. Spain’s attitude toward the U.S. and its objectives in the forthcoming base negotiations are expected to be essentially the same as those of the previous government. Spain’s leading objective will be to obtain a security treaty, which would give Spain a status equal to—if apart from—that of our NATO allies.

During the October 1973 war in the Middle East the Spanish informed us that they were opposed to the use of the bases in support of Israel and sought assurances from us that they would not be so used. We declined to give them any assurances, but abstained from using the bases for the staging of aircraft en route to or from Israel. We did, however, increase the number of tankers at Torrejon and used them for aerial refueling of aircraft engaged in our Middle East operations. The logistics base and communications facilities located in Spain also made an important support contribution to the successful resupply of Israel. Nevertheless, the primary importance of the bases in Spain was and is their role as a deterrent vis-à-vis the USSR and as a means of supporting our forces in Europe in the event of a general war in Europe.

Our goal in the negotiations should be to obtain the longest possible extension of our rights to the facilities we now enjoy, provided the price we have to pay is reasonable. A security treaty, operative only in [Typeset Page 636] the event of a general attack on Western Europe by the Warsaw Pact, would be acceptable to the Spaniards as a quid pro quo and might even give us sufficient leverage with them to influence their position on the Law of the Sea. We should therefore consult with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the possibility of ratification of such a treaty. If these consultations reveal that ratification is unlikely, we will have to try to retain our base rights under an executive agreement by offering material assistance and whatever political support we might be able to accord Spain internationally. In order to enhance the value of such an executive agreement in the eyes of the Spanish and to avoid some of the Congressional problems we would otherwise face, we could voluntarily submit the agreement to the Congress for approval by joint or concurrent resolution.

[Omitted here is the remainder of the study.]

  1. Summary: The study was prepared in response to NSSM 193, U.S. Policy Toward Spain.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–202, Study Memorandums, 1969–1974, NSSM–193. Secret. Forwarded to Scowcroft under cover of an April 23 memorandum from Hartman, who noted that this study “supplements the response to NSSM 179 submitted on August 30, 1973.” The study prepared in response to NSSM 179, dated August 9, is ibid., Box H–199, Study Memorandums, 1969–1974, NSSM–179.