169. Summary of Conclusions of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • South Africa and Rhodesia


  • State

    • Secretary Vance
    • Richard Moose
    • Anthony Lake
    • United States Representative to the United Nations
    • Ambassador Andrew Young
    • Anne Holloway
  • Defense

    • Charles W. Duncan
    • RADM Gerald E. Thomas
    • CIA
    • Adm Stansfield Turner
    • David Cohen
  • FEA

    • John O’Leary
  • Treasury

    • C. Fred Bergsten
  • JCS

    • Lt. Gen. William Y. Smith
  • Commerce

    • Stanley Marcuss
  • NSC

    • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
    • Thomas P. Thornton

The PRC met on September 20 to consider pressures that could be brought to bear to force South Africa to, in turn, pressure Rhodesia toward a settlement on acceptable terms.

It was agreed that we would probably not be called upon for at least two weeks, and probably longer, to take specific actions, although an irresponsible act by Smith could force our hand at almost any time. We can probably obtain the UN procedural resolution setting up the negotiating machinery without getting involved in substantive discussion of sanctions. It was further agreed that meanwhile we must project publicly a resolute approach, and we should as soon as possible clarify in our own minds what pressures we would be prepared to apply under varying circumstances.

Since Smith continues to be willing to talk and the South Africans continue to support an international settlement, there is no reason at this time to apply any pressures on South Africa or on Rhodesia. We [Page 491] will face such measures, however, if Smith later balks. They should be applied in graduated steps after appropriate advance warnings.

In all cases, we should seek to get parallel actions by our allies and others.

The first set of pressures to be applied if the need arises would include:

—Printing destination control warnings on goods exported to South Africa stating that these goods may not be re-exported to Rhodesia. We would seek to multilateralize this procedure but would be prepared to carry it out unilaterally.

—A mandatory UN embargo on arms sales to South Africa for violating the UN embargo by sending arms to Rhodesia. (This would have the added advantage of breaking the Israel-South Africa arms link.)

—“Grey area sales” of military-related equipment would continue to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but perhaps with some tightening as a signal to South Africa. (It was suggested that a tightening of these pressures might be most appropriate for use in the Namibia context where the issue of South African military withdrawal could be a major obstacle.)

A second set of pressures would follow closely after these:

—Jawboning US oil companies to urge their South African subsidiaries not to engage in the export of oil to Rhodesia. (This would be largely symbolic.)

—A selective validated export licensing system covering exports to South Africa of goods (including but not limited to oil) that are particularly important to Rhodesia. Under the system, South Africa would have to undertake that it would not re-export these items to Rhodesia and supply end-user certificates to that effect.

A third category of pressures could come much later and only in extreme situations. It could include the following measures (which were not, however, discussed in any detail by the PRC):

—A full system of end-user certificates, perhaps under a new UN Security Council resolution, covering all items.

—Extension of our sanctions regulations to cover South African subsidiaries of US oil companies, with similar action by home countries of the other majors and Iran. Perhaps extend this to items other than oil.

—Suspension by the US and other Western governments of official trade (e.g., EXIM) credits and guarantees for South Africa.

—Full UN oil sanctions against South Africa as a means of keeping it from supplying oil to Rhodesia, perhaps preceded by a system of “non-supply certificates” which would require South Africa’s agreement to cut off oil to Rhodesia in order to receive any shipments itself. [Page 492] (This would be ineffective, except perhaps in psychological terms, since Rhodesia’s requirements are relatively small and South Africa has stored up large reserves.)

It was decided that certain potential pressures should be kept in reserve for forcing South African compliance in other areas (apartheid, nuclear weapons) and not used in connection with Rhodesia or Namibia. These included:

—Reductions in US personnel and governmental activities in South Africa.

—Restrictions on US investment and banking activities in South Africa.

The PRC devoted particular attention to oil matters in view of widely held concerns over the potentially dangerous precedent which could be set by using oil for political purposes, and the anticipated difficulty of applying effective oil sanctions against South Africa without a near-blockade. It is for this reason that oil-related pressures are at the bottom of the list; Defense would go no further than jawboning; Treasury and Energy oppose even that action. Energy also urges that if we must move on oil, this be done in the context of moving on other items as well.

Finally, it was decided that we would abstain on or oppose the Indian UN resolution which calls upon member states to re-examine their oil export policies toward South Africa, unless Ambassador Young found it necessary for tactical purposes to support it.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 66, PRC 041, 2/11/77, Southern Africa. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.