128. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Iran and Afghanistan


  • State

    • Harold Saunders
    • Reginald Bartholomew
    • Charles W. Maynes
  • OSD

    • David McGiffert
  • JCS

    • Lt. Gen. John Pustay
  • CIA

    • Bruce Clarke
  • Office of the Vice President

    • Denis Clift
  • White House

    • David Aaron
    • Joseph Onek*
    • Jody Powell*
  • NSC

    • Gary Sick
    • Thomas Thornton
    • Marshall Brement
    • Alfred Friendly, Jr.*
    • * Present only for Item 1.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Indian Ocean.]

2. U.S. Participation in the UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean Zone of Peace. State summarized the background of the issue. A UN Resolution was voted in 19712 and reaffirmed each subsequent year [Page 417] calling for the elimination of all bases, military installations, logistical supply facilities and any other “manifestation of great power military presence in the Indian Ocean conceived in the context of great power rivalry.” An Ad Hoc Committee was formed to deal with the resolution.3 We have resisted all participation in the Committee in the past on the grounds that we do not accept the legitimacy of any group of littoral states defining conditions restricting the use of the high seas. Several things have changed in the past year. First, the USSR has formally joined the Committee and clearly intends to use it as a propaganda platform against us. The Soviets bitterly attacked U.S. naval presence and buildup at the last meeting of the Committee.4 Second, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the UN vote condemning it provides the basis for directing the efforts of the Committee away from the purely naval aspects to a consideration of the land threat posed by the Soviet Union to the nations of the area. Third, the Committee has now assumed the responsibility of a preparatory committee to prepare the agenda and terms of reference for a major conference on the Indian Ocean which is to take place in 1981. A number of our friends—including Oman, Somalia and Kenya who are providing us with military facilities—are represented on the Committee and will probably be subject to attack by the Soviets and others for their cooperation with us. We have discovered in the past that none of the Western or other nations sympathetic to our views is willing to stand up to the Soviets unless we lead the way. The question at this time is whether we want to change our position and join the work of the Preparatory Committee in order to defend our own interests. (S)

The SCC unanimously recommended that the U.S. join the Ad Hoc Committee with the intention of: (1) making a strong statement disassociating ourselves with the principle of littoral states imposing any regime on the high seas; (2) drawing attention to the fundamental change in circumstances created by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and (3) opposing the convening of an IOZP conference. All agreed that the U.S. delegation to the Committee should be a strong one which is prepared to press vigorously for the U.S. position. (S)

[Page 418]


Disapprove. Do not join the Committee.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 111, SCC 294, 3/27/80, Iran/Afghanistan. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are not attached and were not found. Carter wrote “Zbig J” in the upper right-hand corner of the first page. Under a March 26 memorandum, Dodson sent Mondale, Vance, Brown, Jones, and Turner a meeting agenda. (Ibid.)
  2. Reference is to UN General Assembly Resolution 2832, adopted December 16, 1971, which called for the establishment of a “zone of peace” in the Indian Ocean.
  3. UN General Assembly Resolution 2992, adopted December 5, 1972, established the Ad Hoc Committee.
  4. The Ad Hoc Committee held both formal and informal meetings between February 4 and October 20.
  5. Carter checked this option and initialed in the right-hand margin next to it.