210. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Follow up on Security Framework in the Persian Gulf—VI


  • State

    • Under Secretary for Political Affairs, David Newsom
    • Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, Richard Cooper
    • Assistant Secretary Harold Saunders
  • OSD

    • Secretary Harold Brown
    • Deputy Secretary Graham Claytor, Jr.
    • Under Secretary for Policy, Robert Komer
  • JCS

    • General David Jones
    • Lt. General John Pustay
  • CIA

    • Director Stansfield Turner
    • Robert Ames, NIO for Near East and South Asia
    • [name not declassified]
  • Justice

    • Associate Attorney General, John Shenefield


    • Secretary Charles Duncan
    • Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, Les Goldman
  • Treasury

    • Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, Fred Bergsten
  • OMB

    • Deputy Director, John White
    • Associate Director, Randy Jayne
  • White House

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
  • NSC

    • William E. Odom
    • Thomas Thornton
    • Henry Owen

Dr. Brzezinski opened the meeting with a brief review of the President’s comments on last week’s SCC discussion.2 The President wants us to be prudent in seeking more military access, avoid publicity, and not press the Saudis. The President also wants to re-define our approach to the Saudis in the military sphere as an effort to enhance national defense cooperation, not to stress internal insecurity. (S)

[Page 675]

[5 paragraphs (25 lines) not declassified]3

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Saudi Arabia.]

Secretary Duncan’s report on his trip to Saudi Arabia

Dr. Brzezinski opened this discussion by asking what followup actions Duncan believed necessary. Duncan answered that he has listed them in a letter to Dr. Brzezinski.4 Dr. Brzezinski acknowledged the letter and reported that papers on these actions will be available by April 15th and a PRC meeting to discuss them. (S)

Duncan gave a brief summary of his experiences with the Saudi leadership. They see themselves as responsible in energy matters while others are not. At 9.5 million b/d production, they believe they are using up their resources for inflated dollars. They feel that they would be better off to hold production to 5 or 6 million b/d. All ministers expressed the view that they were sacrificing their own interests for the larger interest of the West. They did not agree that we are compensating them adequately by providing them a national security blanket. Only Fahd gives us credit on that score. (S)

Their pricing goal with the 9.5 million b/d is price “stability.” By May they hope to achieve price “predictability” in the longer term. (S)

When told of the President’s plan to impose an import fee on foreign oil, the Saudis required several hours of persuasion to accept the view that it is a desirable action. On the SPR, they were adamant that we not increase our demand at the very time they are trying to flood the market and control the price. (S)

Next Duncan mentioned Senator Jackson’s hearings, seven of which have occurred in closed sessions where he repeatedly asked what we will do if the present Saudi government falls.5 Dr. Brzezinski pointed out that this question is not helpful; it may even contribute to the demise of the Saudi regime. Our answer to Jackson should be two-fold. First, we are doing things to reduce the likelihood of internal collapse of the regime. Second, we are improving our capabilities in the region in the event it does collapse. (S)

[Page 676]

Dr. Brzezinski then emphasized that we must publicly confirm our confidence in the Saudi Government. The public worry expressed by us is creating a pernicious upward spiral. All agreed that we should take steps to give the impression of greater confidence in the Saudis.6 (S)

Duncan argued that it will take more than assertions. Everywhere he went he heard the same litany: the Shah, South Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan all add up to a frightening trend. Dr. Brzezinski answered that this means we must first, address the sum total of small things we have done to increase our military presence in the Persian Gulf, and second, emphasize that we are holding firmly to our present policy toward the USSR. (S)

Turner argued that we need “tangibles” because no one believes we are going to stick to our present policy. Even the large naval force in the Indian Ocean will begin to diminish in the near future. All agreed that there is a problem but emphasized that we must press the two points Dr. Brzezinski raised. (S)

It was agreed that Hummel be instructed to make both points in Pakistan because others in the region point to our relations with Islamabad as an example that we are not holding firmly. (S)

As a final note, Cooperreported that Duncan established especially good personal ties with Yamani. Cooperalso enumerated three problems which we should try to remove from our relations with Yamani. First, the Attorney General’s request for CIDs; second, FTC cases, and three, tax cases. (S)

Next Week

Ambassador John West will meet with the SCC principals next week when he returns to the U.S. for consultations. Secretary Duncan will join the group. (C)

The agenda for next week will include:

  • —Defense paper on internal stability in Saudi Arabia.
  • —Follow up on Pakistan.
  • —Tarapur. (S)
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Meetings File, Box 20, SCC Meeting: #292 Held 3/21/80, 3–4/80. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are not attached and were not found. Carter wrote “Zbig C” in the top right-hand corner of the first page.
  2. See Document 64 and footnote 2 thereto.
  3. An undated draft version of a Presidential Finding was provided to Carter who then made a number of textual changes. Brzezinski sent this draft, along with a revised version of the finding that incorporated Carter’s changes, to Carter under a March 25 note recommending that the President sign the revised finding. Carter signed the finding as revised. (Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 30, NSC/SCC Minutes, 1/16/80–2/29/80)
  4. Not found. For Duncan’s report to the President on his trip, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXXVII, Energy Crisis, 1974–1980, Document 263.
  5. Jackson chaired the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
  6. Carter wrote in the left-hand margin next to this and the preceding paragraph: “Maintain privately & publicly our confidence in SAG regime” and “Reader’s Digest will hurt.” The April 1980 issue of Reader’s Digest magazine included an article entitled “Saudi Arabia: The Next Iran?”