269. Memorandum From Michel Oksenberg of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • Mondale Memcons

At the attached three tabs are the Vice President’s memcons for the NSC files.2

You know how sensitive they are and, if you wish for me to keep them in my safe along with the other sensitive memcons, I would be willing to do so.

As you can imagine, Holbrooke has been at me asking when Cy Vance would get these memcons. I consider it clearly your responsibility to handle that end of things. One thought that occurs to me would be to have him read the memcons in your office. Another possibility would be then for me to deliver them personally to him and to obtain from him after he has read them.

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I am sending you separately sanitized versions of the memcons—not noted as such—for possible placement in the file of the EA Bureau.3 Those sanitized versions contain no reference to the most sensitive issues, including deletion of the export control cases4 and of any reference to our having obtained prior notice from the Chinese of their February incursion into Vietnam.5


That you place these memcons in an appropriate file and that you give Cy access to them in an appropriate manner.6

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 49, Mondale 8/79 China Trip: 9/79. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only Attachment; Outside the System. Sent for action.
  2. The memoranda of conversation are printed as Documents 264266.
  3. Oksenberg sent the sanitized memoranda of conversation to Brezezinski under cover of another September 11 memorandum in which he wrote, “I believe these memcons should now be distributed to State for placement in the EA Bureau files. Access to them should be as limited as access to the other China memcons—i.e., only Holbrooke, Sullivan, and the Head of the China Desk can look at them. Distribution is useful, however, because in each session Mondale indicates that we are now seeking to develop a distinction in technology transfer to China and the Soviet Union. EA should be well informed of this policy so that it can implement it against opposition within State.” Brzezinski approved providing Holbrooke with the sanitized memcons. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 57, Policy Process: 9/79–12/80)
  4. Brzezinski underlined, “deletion of the export control cases” and, in the margin, wrote, “Why?” Oksenberg explained in a September 12 memorandum to Brzezinski, “You asked why I deleted reference to the expedited license cases in the Mondale memcons I prepared for State. I thought you wished the V-B-B discussions of the Lockheed Jet Star and the digital enhancer to be secret. The President’s interest is not served by letting it be known that the White House is involved in facilitating specific cases. You will remember how we handled Daedalus: by keeping the pressure on, but by letting the favorable decision be made bureaucratically. However, I have retained in the memcons for State the general discussion of our willingness to distinguish between China and the USSR in COCOM.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Far East, Oksenberg Subject File, Box 49, Mondale 8/79 China Trip: 9/79)
  5. Next to the reference to “prior notice,” Brzezinski wrote, “leave out.” He added, “Also leave out the special item, but give them the rest. Why hold back? ZB.”
  6. Brzezinski did not mark either the Approve or Disapprove option.