270. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1

Attached is a revised version of the proposed Presidential Directive on arms transfers. It has been revised by Cy Vance and myself, in the light of Cy’s consultations on the Hill.2

To facilitate your reading and approval, the new passages are underlined; previously approved language to be removed is bracketed and crossed out in pencil.

More specifically, please note that the first underlined passage merely states the exemption which previously had been repeated several times throughout the PD, thereby flagging it excessively. Since the [Page 675] US has 42 defense treaties, we concluded that we had no choice but at least to mention these special treaty obligations specifically once.

The addition to paragraph 2 c. was in our submission to you, and I think it is consistent with what you favor. If it is not we will take it out.

The proposed alternative language for paragraph 5 is designed to be more consistent with existing laws.

Since this issue is likely to be discussed at least in your bilateral with Giscard, we suggest that you take a copy of this memorandum with you and that its final issuance be delayed until your return.3


Annotated Presidential Directive4


After reviewing results of the Policy Review Committee meeting held on April 12, 1977, to discuss US conventional arms transfer policy, I have concluded that we must restrain the transfer of conventional arms by recognizing that arms transfers are an exceptional foreign policy implement, to be used only in instances where it can be clearly demonstrated that the transfers contribute to our national security interests.

In establishing this policy of restraint, the United States will continue to utilize arms transfers to promote our security and the security of our allies and close friends.

Recognizing that unilateral restraint can have only limited effectiveness without multilateral cooperation, the United States will continue its efforts to urge other suppliers to join us in pursuing policies of restraint. In addition, we believe that regional agreements among purchasers of arms can contribute significantly to curbing the proliferation of conventional weaponry, and we will assist in whatever way possible in the conclusion of such agreements.

The United States will give continued emphasis to formulating and conducting our security assistance programs in a manner which [Page 676] will promote and advance respect for human rights in recipient countries.

Further, an assessment will henceforth be made of the economic impact of proposed transfers of major defense equipment to those less developed countries which receive US economic assistance.

In recognition of our special treaty obligations with NATO countries, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, these countries will be exempted as appropriate from the dollar volume restraints and other controls established below:

In furtherance of this policy of restraint, and except in extra-ordinary circumstances personally approved by me, I direct that:

1. The dollar volume (in constant 1976 dollars) of [Transfers of] new commitments under the Foreign Military Sales and Military Assistance Programs for weapons and weapons-related items in FY 1978 will be reduced from the FY 1977 total [(exempting transfers to NATO countries, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in both cases)]. It will be our goal to continue to reduce total dollar volume [s approved] in each subsequent year.

2. With regard to newly-developed advanced weapons systems:

a. [Except in extraordinary circumstances personally approved by the President,] The United States will not be the first supplier to introduce into a region an advanced weapons system which creates a new or significantly higher combat capability.6

b. Commitment for sale [, cooperative research and development,] or coproduction of newly-developed advanced weapons systems is prohibited until the systems are operationally deployed with US forces.

c. The Secretary of State will establish more extensive guidelines for assessing requests for newly-developed advanced weapons systems, including requirements 1) that supplying the system would uniquely strengthen the requestor’s ability to perform military functions which serve US security interests, [and] 2) that less-advanced, existing systems with roughly comparable capabilities are unavailable from the United States, and 3) that providing these systems will not require the presence in country of large numbers of Americans for long periods of time.:ue7

3. [Unless an exception is personally approved by the President,] Unique advanced weapons systems developed or significantly modified solely for export will be transferred only within the treaty relationships referred to above [only to NATO countries, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan].8

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4. Agreements for coproduction of significant weapons, equipment, or major components, beyond assembly of subcomponents and the fabrication of high-turnover spare parts are prohibited, [except with NATO countries, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, or where the President determines that such agreement is justified by extraordinary circumstances.] Requests for any other items (e.g., major overhaul facilities) will be subject to guidelines applied globally, analyzing closely whether the proposed coproduction project would over time provide equipment in excess of local needs. In each approved agreement, terms under which third-country exports will be permitted, if at all, will be stipulated, emphasizing that coproduction is intended for the coproducer’s requirements and not for export.

5. [Unless otherwise specified, no significant weapons, equipment, or major components acquired from the United States will be transferred to third countries without US permission.] In addition to the requirements of law and existing policies concerning re-transfer assurances, the US, as a condition of sale for certain weapons, equipment, or major components, may stipulate that the US will not entertain any requests for re-transfers.:ue9

6. Policy level approval by the Department of State will be required before authorizing 1) licensing for sales promotion or technical data transmission by private firms, and 2) US military or civilian briefings, site surveys, transmission of technical information, or any similar activity which might promote the sale of items of major defense equipment [defense articles and services]. Further, US embassies and military elements will not promote or assist in the promotion of arms sales without specific authorization. Finally, the Secretary of Defense will continue the review of government procedures which may promote the sale of arms, reporting the results of this review within 60 days.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues, Mathews Subject File, Box 3, Arms Sales, Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC–12: 5/75–6/77. Secret; Sensitive. In the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum, Carter wrote “ok—Will issue after Summit—JC.”
  2. See Document 269.
  3. Underneath this sentence, Carter wrote “Let’s do so. J” and drew an arrow to the word “until.”
  4. Secret; Sensitive. All brackets are in the original.
  5. Suggested new language is underlined. Existing language to be removed is bracketed. [Footnote is in the original.]
  6. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “Too tight a restriction—why delete?” and then crossed the phrase out.
  7. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “ok.”
  8. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “ok.”
  9. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “ok.”