99. Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC 251


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director of Central Intelligence


  • Arms Control in the Indian Ocean Area

The President has directed that the Special Coordination Committee review U.S. policy with regard to possible arms control measures in the Indian Ocean area preparatory to the meeting of the U.S.-Soviet working group on this issue.2

The initial study of this issue will be prepared by a working group of the SCC, under the chairmanship of the NSC Staff. The study should be completed for SCC review by April 29, 1977, and should:

1. Review past policy studies, summarizing U.S. security interests and objectives in the Indian Ocean area.

2. Identify alternative negotiating strategies available to the United States, with specific options for an initial negotiating position.

3. Make recommendations concerning the composition of a U.S. team to conduct discussions with the USSR and the establishment of a working group to support its efforts.

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4. Propose consultative mechanisms to ensure that the views and interests of U.S. friends and allies are adequately represented in the preparation and conduct of bilateral discussions with the USSR.

In examining alternative negotiating strategies available to the United States, the study should identify the principal tradeoffs (facilities, force levels, operating patterns) which will have to be considered in substantive discussions of this issue with the USSR. Each alternative should be evaluated in terms of its implications for:

—U.S.-Soviet rivalry in the region;

—Regional military and political developments;

—U.S. and Soviet objectives and capabilities in other areas;

—U.S. relations with Allies and other concerned states; and

—Crisis management in the Indian Ocean area.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files, FRC 330–80–0017, Indian Ocean 092 (Jan–Jul) 1977 2. Secret. Brown initialed at the top of the page and wrote “4/8” above his initials.
  2. Vance visited Moscow March 27–30 and discussed demilitarization of the Indian Ocean with Gromyko during a March 29 meeting. In telegram Secto 3033 from Moscow, March 29, Vance indicated that he had “set forth our interest in a serious exploration of their views, especially on question of eliminating bases, limiting numbers of ship-days for warships and defining the precise area to be covered.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840076-0315). For a memorandum of conversation of the March 29 meeting, see Foreign Relations 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 20. Vance and Gromyko agreed to set up working groups on several issues, including Indian Ocean demilitarization. (Department of State Bulletin, April 25, 1977, p. 401)