24. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1
- Additional Arms for Hussein
You should be aware that Hussein, before leaving the US, has made a final plea for the military equipment he mentioned to you at his final meeting.2 He made this pitch to Yost in New York and asked that it be passed to you so he can have an answer before he returns to Amman next week (Tab A). Dick Helms reports that one of his senior officers [less than 1 line not declassified] believes the King is seriously concerned about getting this equipment in order to convince his military that he is providing what they need to defend themselves (Tab B).
At the same time, Ambassador Barbour in Tel Aviv points out the probable sharp Israeli (and hence Congressional) reaction to the sale of [Page 80] artillery to Jordan. What bothers Israel most today is the shelling of its settlements along the Jordan River (Tab C).
Hussein has asked for three things in addition to the package he has received: (a) 80 M–42 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns; (b) 60 more 106 mm. recoilless rifles (55 are already in the package); (c) 8″ Howitzers (he asked for 40 and got none).
Secretaries Rogers and Laird are taking another look. However, State’s recommendations to Rogers are:
—That Defense provide just 10 more of the AA guns since these have to come out of our Vietnam inventory. The purpose of providing a token is to prove that we are not refusing on political grounds.
—That Defense not sell additional recoilless rifles (although they could be provided by taking them out of the Turkish program) because the additional are for new units of the Jordan Army. The Jordanians had previously undertaken to develop their forces at present levels to avoid committing themselves to an excessive defense budget.
—That we not provide any more Howitzers because of the extreme Israeli sensitivity.
Secretary Laird’s staff is recommending about the same, though it is canvassing to develop a more precise picture of the impact on our Vietnam program. They are used to hard Jordanian bargaining and honestly feel they have gone a long way to meet Hussein’s requirements, especially those for early delivery of many of the items in his package.
Ambassador Symmes feels the present package is adequate.
The choice is a purely political one:
1. Stick to present package. Ambassador Symmes and Secretary Laird’s staff believe that we have made a significant effort to produce this package and there is no serious requirement to go beyond it. Besides, we reduce our credibility by admitting that our past answers were not firm.
2. Make a token response—the 10 guns State is recommending. The argument for this approach is to show that we are not holding out on these items for political reasons, since Hussein just does not believe us when we say things are not available. It would make us appear responsive while recognizing that what we do diplomatically is what will really determine Hussein’s course. [This is the State recommendation.]
3. A slightly larger token response. It is possible to argue that 10 guns do not make much sense and that we should add a few more plus some of the recoilless rifles to make a real show of trying. [This would be my recommendation.]
4. Agree in principle to most of what he asked for but delay delivery. We could say we will do what we can but caution that we can make no [Page 81] promises on delivery. The argument for this approach is that all Hussein really needs is to say we are supporting him all the way. [Some in CIA favor this, but I doubt the wisdom of making commitments we are not sure we can keep.]
Recommendation: I personally lean toward option 2. Since this is the direction in which Secretaries Laird and Rogers are already heading. I propose to stand aside unless you feel strongly otherwise.3
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 613, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, Vol. I. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. Tabs A–C are attached but not printed. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text that remains classified.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 19.↩
- Nixon approved this recommendation.↩