211. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1


The April 2 Mini-PRC on Saudi Arabian Arms Requests2 reached general agreement on:

  • • Responses to specific requests
  • • Management of the response with the Saudis and with Congress


The Mini-PRC agreed that positive responses could be given on most systems requested by the Saudis, but noted that careful explanation and engagement of the Saudis in a dialogue on force planning will be necessary if the frustrations and irritations expressed by the Saudis in the past are to be avoided. Final Presidential approval and Congressional review are required where appropriate. In some cases, the responses are informal, with formal commitments to be made later as PD–133 permits.

The issues of absorption or effects on the stability of the Saudi regime of the sale of these systems were not felt to be major problems given the extended period of time over which the equipment could be delivered.

Specific Requests (More detail in attached Fact Sheets)4

It was agreed5 that the following items, which had been previously approved for sale to Saudi Arabia, should be examined for accelerated delivery wherever possible, moving Saudi Arabia up in the production queue even when a substantial portion of US needs remained to be filled:

  • —AN/TAS–4, 5, and 6 night vision devices
  • —M60 tank product improvement program
  • —M109 howitzer product improvement program
  • —155mm Rocket Assisted Projectile (RAP) rounds
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It was agreed that the following items should also be approved but further discussions with the Saudis as to the pace and mode of their accomplishment are appropriate:6

  • —Mechanization of two Saudi Land Forces Brigades
  • —Blackhawk helicopters
  • —Commercial alternative to Mark IV Identification Friend and Foe (IFF) for the I-Hawk (unless an arrangement can be made with NSA for FMS sale).

The Mini-PRC agreed we should indicate a positive attitude toward7 providing the following, with further discussions and final agreement to sale timed to deployment of the systems with U.S. forces:

  • —AN/TPQ–36 and 37 locating radars
  • —Division Air Defense System (DIVADS)
  • —Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)
  • Roland short range air defense missile system (Saudi Arabia is in the French-German sales territory, however. We should leave to the Saudis whether to buy from Europe or seek European agreement to a U.S. sale. In either case we would support the SAG position.) The Saudis already own the French Crotale; they may wish to acquire more as an alternative to Roland.
  • —Sale of 1200 additional Redeye, in lieu of Stinger (timing is to be tied to further discussions of how this quantity would fit into Saudi force structure).

The Mini-PRC agreed we should not approve8 the following because of prior assurances provided to Congress at the time of the F–15 sale:

  • —KC–135 tankers to refuel F–15s
  • —Conformal fuel pods for the F–15
  • —Multiple Ejection Bomb Racks to the F–15

It was also agreed we should not agree to an E–3A AWACS9 sale. Rather than a flat rejection, however, we should agree to conduct the requested airborne surveillance feasibility10 study. This could be coupled with an offer to deploy USAF AWACS periodically for joint training with the RSAF. If the Saudis were interested, we would also offer to study the possibility of ground data link stations.

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It was also agreed that the General Support Rocket System was not far enough along in the development and selection process to make a decision now. We remain prepared to discuss this system further as development proceeds, however.

Finally, on the issue of Saudi financial participation in U.S. production lines, it was agreed there should be none before a U.S. production decision was made. Once U.S. Services made a decision, however, we could consider Saudi participation on a case-by-case basis where absorption is not a problem. It was also agreed that there should be no Saudi financial participation in R&D.

Management of Our Response

With the Saudis

The response needs to be conveyed promptly and constructively in order to strengthen our overall relationship. At the same time we need to work closely with the Saudis on implementation and to stress realistic delivery schedules, availability of manpower and adequate training and contractor support to enhance Saudi absorptive capacity. We need a strong in-country framework to give continuity to these efforts to deal with issues before they become political irritants. Additionally, we want to avoid the perception of a new dramatic “package” of arms sales at this time. Consequently, Ambassador West should informally brief the Saudis on our response on his return to the Kingdom.11 Harold Brown could then follow-up with Prince Sultan at an appropriate time, placing our response to these requests in a broad security framework. The timing of such a meeting would be influenced, inter alia, by progress in the autonomy talks.

With Congress

Despite the reasonably comprehensive response we will give to the Saudis, we are dealing with a number of individual cases.12 Implementation will occur over a five or six year period. Few if any of these cases are likely to result in Congressional notifications in CY 1980.13 Many are logical follow-on or replacement sales to equipment we have already provided. Consequently, if we avoid playing up our response in a dramatic way, no extraordinary reactions by Congress (or Israel) are likely. At the same time we should consult14 in the normal course [Page 680] of business to give Congress an overview of expected cases, both annually as called for in the Javits report and as the cases mature. In any event, with the possible exception of Redeye, the agreed items are not of the type which have been opposed by Congress in the past.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 43, Saudi Arabia: 1–12/80. Secret. Prepared in advance of an April 12 principals’ meeting on Saudi arms requests; see Document 212. Tarnoff sent the paper to Brzezinski under cover of an April 9 memorandum.
  2. No other record has been found.
  3. See footnote 8, Document 199.
  4. Not attached and not found.
  5. An unknown hand underlined the word “agreed.”
  6. In this paragraph, an unknown hand underlined “agreed,” “should also be,” and “further discussions.”
  7. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “a positive attitude toward.”
  8. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “should not approve.”
  9. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “not agree to an E–3A AWACS.”
  10. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “conduct the requested airborne surveillance feasibility.”
  11. An unknown hand underlined this sentence.
  12. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “we are dealing with a number of individual cases.”
  13. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “in CY 1980.”
  14. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “At the same time we should consult.”