139. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Weinberger to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Clark)1


  • West Siberian Pipeline Project (U)

(S) The events in Poland have created our best opportunity for derailing the West Siberia to Western Europe national gas pipeline project since this Administration came to office. The Europeans, with the Italians in the lead, are finally awakening to the dangers this project poses for the West’s energy security and the financial bonanza it represents to Moscow. The Soviets themselves have helped to tear the scales from the eyes of the West Europeans by threatening trade reprisals against our Allies if they support our sanctions policy. They singled out the gas pipeline project as a trade benefit and even named West German firms committed to this project in a recent thinly veiled warning.

(S) I believe that this is the time to mount a major effort to dismantle the project. The President’s embargo on U.S. oil and gas equipment and technology going to the U.S.S.R. was a major step in this direction. But a policy of denial is not enough. We must also convince the Europeans that we have a strong and positive interest in their energy security. I support Ambassador Rabb’s wise recommendation that we present a cogent, persuasive and economically viable package of alternatives for our Allies to reliance on Soviet energy.

(S) We need to move quickly before the lessons of Poland fade from memory. The interagency process has thus far failed to come up [Page 479] with the necessary package of alternatives. Indeed, this was one of the key European criticisms of Myer Rashish’s mission to Europe last October. I suggest that your staff take the lead in developing such a package, using detailees from Commerce, Defense, State, and the intelligence agencies. Defense would be willing to provide space and clerical support on a temporary basis.

(S) The slowness with which we have responded to the challenge of the West Siberian project and the difficulties we have had in framing an international economic strategy on an interagency basis suggest the need for a more focused approach to such problems. We need to think more creatively about how to correct these shortcomings in our policy development process. I welcome your thoughts in this area, as well as any recommendations as to how we might contribute to a solution.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Norman Bailey Files, Series III: Chronological File, 1981–1983, Chron 01/27/1982. Secret; Eyes Only.