190. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1


  • Waiver of the $40 Million Ceiling on FY 1977 Military Assistance, Credits and Guaranties for African Countries, under Section 33(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended

This memorandum asks you to exercise your authority under section 33(b) of the Arms Export Control Act to waive the $40 million statutory ceiling on the total (excluding training) of grant military assistance and foreign military sales (FMS) credits and guaranteed loans to African countries in fiscal year 1977. The waiver of the ceiling is urgently needed to permit implementation of FMS financing programs, especially to make progress payments on prior purchases.


Section 33 (a) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended, imposes an annual $40 million ceiling on military assistance and FMS financing for African countries. Section 33 (b) of the Act provides that you may waive this ceiling when you determine that a waiver is important to the security of the United States, and promptly so report to the Congress.

The $40 million ceiling has ceased to be a realistic limitation and has been waived successively in recent years. Last year, the Ford Administration justified to Congress FY 1977 security assistance programs for Africa which exceeded the $40 million ceiling by more than $60 million. In North Africa alone our program justifications for Morocco and Tunisia exceed the ceiling. Subsequent reprogramming has only slightly increased the total African program.

Although Congress declined last year to repeal the ceiling, it approved the requested funding levels. This Congressional action appears to assume that the ceiling again will be waived. Congress, therefore, should expect you to waive this limitation in order to implement country programs at the levels it has approved. We will report your determination to Congress on your behalf and provide it with the attached justification,2 as has been the practice with previous determinations.

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As shown in the table at Tab 1,3 our planned FMS financing in Africa for FY 1977 consists of FMS programs for seven countries—Zaire, Senegal, Liberia, Gabon, Kenya, Morocco, and Tunisia. These programs total about $108.5 million.

Arms Control Considerations

The waiving of the $40 million African ceiling will not conflict with your recently announced policy to restrain conventional arms transfers. The FY 1977 FMS financing programs for African countries will be used to finance purchases of defense articles and services by countries whose defense is important to the security of the United States and whose unfriendly neighbors are armed with superior weapons. Consequently, the sales which result from waiving this $40 million ceiling should not adversely affect regional distributions of power or promote arms races in Africa.


Section 654 (c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, requires that the waiver be published in the Federal Register unless you conclude that such publication would be “harmful to the national security of the United States.” Since the program levels are public knowledge, publication in this case would have no harmful effect on the national security.


I recommend that you approve and sign the determination at Tab 2, and thereby approve the attached justification.4 The Department of Defense concurs in this determination.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 50, Tunisia. Confidential. There is no indication Carter saw the memorandum.
  2. Not attached.
  3. Not attached.
  4. Tab 2 is not attached. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of the recommendation, but see Document 191.