265. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1


  • Congressional Notification of Pending Conventional Arms Transfer Cases

Secretary Vance recommends that selected arms sales be transmitted to Congress prior to completion of the PRM/NSC–12 review on this subject (Tab A).2 In addition, he recommends that he determine which cases you should review in the future.

I agree with Secretary Vance that there are sound reasons to transmit selected cases at this time. In my view, however, the only clearly uncontroversial cases are those in the Secretary’s categories I and II (construction and follow-on support, and follow-on ammunition supplies), and recommended NATO, Israel and Jordan cases in categories III and IV (supplements to existing inventories, and major new equipment). Their transmittal would have the least adverse effect on the PRM review and should generate little or no opposition in Congress. The other category III and IV sales, however, are precisely those which must come under closer scrutiny if we are to restrain the sale of arms. For this reason, I recommend deferral of all the other category III and IV transmittals until the PRM review is completed in the first week in April.

Concerning which cases you should review, you have stated publicly that all arms sales are to come to you directly before submission to Congress. In addition, I believe it would be premature to decide what future cases you will or will not see before you have reviewed the results of PRM–12. If, after reviewing the PRM–12 response, you decide to delegate to the Secretary of State the authority to determine which cases will be forwarded to you, no agency could maintain that such a decision was made without consideration of its views on the subject.


That you approve transmittal to Congress at this time of all category I and II arms sales cases, and the recommended NATO, Israel and Jordan cases only in categories III and IV.3

That you defer a decision on which future cases should be forwarded to you for review.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues, Mathews Subject File, Box 4, Arms Transfers: Policy (General): 2–5/77. Secret. Sent for action. In the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the memorandum, Carter wrote “Zbig—see me. J.C.” At the bottom of the first page, an unknown hand wrote “Closed 4–1–77 KM.”
  2. See Document 263.
  3. Carter did not indicate his preference with respect to this [Page 654] recommendation.
  4. Carter did not indicate his preference with respect to this recommendation.