208. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford 1


  • US-Spanish Bases Negotiations—Status Report

For the past year, we have been negotiating with Spain for renewal of the 1970 US-Spanish “Agreement of Friendship and Cooperation” which, among its most important provisions, authorizes the United States to operate from three major facilities on Spanish soil—the airbases at Torrejon and Zaragoza and the naval base at Rota. The 1970 agreement expired on September 26; however, by agreement with the Government of Spain, we have been conducting normal operations while the negotiations continue.

Little progress was registered in the ten rounds of formal negotiations held with the Spanish between September 1974 and September 1975. This was due primarily to the fact that the Government of Spain was holding the bases negotiations “hostage” to its efforts to secure a [Typeset Page 674] closer defense association with NATO and the United States, with a view to gaining recognition of Spain’s contribution to Western defense. (The Spanish seemed either unwilling or unable to accept the reality of the deep-seated hostility to Spain by several countries in Western Europe.)

In order to break the impasse, I met with Spanish Foreign Minister Cortina on four occasions in late September-early October. We were able to reach agreement on the “framework” of a new five-year agreement covering the full range of US-Spanish relationships, including defense. In brief, we agreed to furnish Spain with $600 million in foreign military sales credits and $75 million in grant military assistance over the five-year period of the new agreement. In return, we will retain the continued use of Torrejon, Zaragoza and Rota. (This contrasts with the original Spanish request for $1.5–$2 billion in assistance and closure of one of our air bases.)

Additionally, we agreed to the withdrawal of our KC–135 tanker wing from Torrejon, with a small detachment operating out of the airfield at Rota. The balance of these aircraft will be relocated to other bases in Europe. [2½ lines not declassified]

We also agreed to provide about $45 million in non-military assistance over a five year period. These funds would continue the scientific, technological, educational and cultural cooperation undertaken under the 1970 agreement and provide seed money for a solar energy project. (This contrasts favorably with the $110 million originally sought by the Spanish in this area.)

We are working now to fill in the details of the “framework” agreement which Foreign Minister Cortina and I agreed to. The target for completion of a final text for signature by the parties is mid or late November. The head of the U.S. delegation at the talks will be submitting a formal report to you at that time.

In the meantime, we have been consulting with key Congressional leaders on the substance of the new “framework” agreement and on our next steps. Congress is being assured that the new agreement involves no security commitment to Spain and that it will be submitted to Congress for full review.

Several problems may arise when we seek Congressional support for implementing the new agreement:

—First, there is strong sentiment in Congress to eliminate all grant military assistance over the next two years. Congress also generally opposes making grant aid available to developed countries and Spain falls into that category.

—Second, the apparent face value of the quid agreement is substantial—$675 million in military assistance ($600 million in loans) and $45 million in non-military assistance.

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—Third, governing legislation calls for the United States to reduce or eliminate military assistance to governments that engage in a consistent pattern of violations of human rights. In the view of many, the Franco regime is one of those governments. The law, however, does permit giving such countries military assistance when there is a Presidential determination to the effect that “extraordinary circumstances” justify the assistance.

In the period ahead, the Departments of State and Defense will be working with the Congress to overcome these obstacles, pointing out that we gain much at relatively little cost under the terms of the new agreement and that the alternative—no agreement—would serve to further isolate Spain from the West during the current transition period as the Franco era ends and the country makes critical choices for the future.

This memorandum is provided for your information; no action is required on your part at this time.

  1. Summary: Kissinger reported the conclusion of the U.S.-Spanish base negotiations.

    Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 54, NSDM 268—Renegotiation of Bases Agreement with Spain (1). Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Scowcroft initialed the memorandum on Kissinger’s behalf. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. Ford initialed the memorandum.