128. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1


  • Presidential Determination to Authorize the Use of FMS Financing for the Provision of a Sophisticated Weapon System to Tunisia

Acting Secretary of State Robinson recommends that you make a Determination that it is important to the national security of the United States to utilize Foreign Military Sales (FMS) guaranties to finance the sale to Tunisia of a sophisticated weapon system, specifically a Chaparral air defense missile system (Tab B). Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act prohibits the use of FMS financing for the sale of sophisticated weapons systems, including missile systems, to underdeveloped countries such as Tunisia in the absence of a Presidential Determination. A proposed Determination and justification are at Tab A.

Providing Tunisia with the Chaparral system will enable that country to improve its defensive capabilities vis-à-vis Libya and Algeria. FMS financing of this sale will allow Tunisia to meet its security requirements without diverting resources currently allocated to important economic development projects. Congress was formally notified of this proposed sale on September 10, 1976, and no objection was interposed during the 30-day review period.

Max Friedersdorf and Jack Marsh concur in this recommendation, as does OMB (Tab C).


That you sign the Determination at Tab A.

[Page 361]


Justification of Presidential Determination

Washington, undated.


The Problem:

Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended (the Act), prohibits the use of funds authorized under the Act “to guarantee, or extend credit, or participate in an extension of credit in connection with any sale of sophisticated weapons systems, such as missile systems and jet aircraft for military purposes, to any underdeveloped country” with certain exceptions not relevant here. For the purposes of the Act, Tunisia is an “underdeveloped” country. The Government of Tunisia wishes to finance the purchase of the Chaparral missile system with a loan guaranteed by the United States under Section 24 of the Act.

Section 4 of the Act authorizes the President to waive the prohibition described above if he determines that such financing is important to the national security of the United States and reports each such determination to the Congress within thirty days.


Tunisia is a politically moderate Arab state with traditionally close relations with the United States. Tunisia permits port visits by US Navy ships, thereby adding to the operational effectiveness of our naval forces in the southern Mediterranean. The maintenance of an independent and moderate-oriented Tunisia is important to the US goal of regional stability in North Africa. US foreign military sales to Tunisia enable that friendly Arab government to improve its defenses against hostile neighboring states equipped with sophisticated Soviet weapons. The interference of Libya in the internal affairs of Tunisia and other countries has caused Tunisia to seek to improve her defensive capabilities.

Tunisia has requested the purchase of the Chaparral missile system to meet her air defense needs. The Executive Branch submitted to the Congress formal notification of this proposed sale under the provisions of Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended, on September 10, 1976. The cost of the Chaparral missile system sale under consideration is about $43.5 million. It would be difficult for Tunisia to acquire this needed air defense capability without foreign military [Page 362] sales (FMS) financing if it is to avoid the diversion of its resources from important economic development projects. FMS financing of the Tunisian purchase of the Chaparral missile system will contribute significantly to Tunisia’s ability to deter threats against its security and to continue to exercise a moderating influence in the region. Our substantial political and military interests in the southern Mediterranean would be jeopardized by a deterioration in regional stability or a diminution in the forces of moderation in North Africa. Therefore, the use of FMS guaranties under section 24 of the Arms Export Control Act to finance this sale is important to the national security of the United States.

  1. Summary: Scowcroft requested that Ford issue a determination to utilize Foreign Military Sales (FMS) guaranties to finance the sale of the Chaparral air defense system to improve Tunisia’s defense capabilities against Libya and Algeria.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Operations Staff for the Middle East and South Asia Affairs, Country File, Box 24, Tunisia (4). Confidential. Sent for action. A stamped notation on the document indicates the President saw it. Tabs A and C are attached, but not published. Ford signed Presidential Determination 77–6 on November 5. (Ibid.)