74. Telegram 18890/Tosec 10259 From the Department of State to Secretary of State Kissinger in Madrid1

Tosec 10259. For the Secretary from Sisco. Subject: Action Memorandum—Military Sales to Morocco and Mauritania (S/S 7601543).


1. In meeting with Atherton, Schaufele and Saunders we reviewed question of military sales to GOM and GIRM in light of current developments in Sahara and concerns expressed by Amembassies Rabat and Algiers about possible effects on our relations with their respective host countries of our sales policies.

2. King Hassan, in direct approaches to Amb Neumann and through his Ambassador in Washington and military channels, has requested expeditious action on following requests for arms deliveries citing Sahara situation and possibility confrontation with Algeria.

A. Immediate approval of letter of offer for purchase of 20 F–5E’s and 4 F–5F’s.

B. Price and availability data on 12 TOW-equipped Cobra helicopters.

C. REDEYE missiles (GOM would be satisfied with token number for display purposes).

D. Accelerated delivery of virtually all items furnished under our ongoing military supply program.

3. Action on these requests has been delayed during US-Spanish base negotiations and while it appeared there might be a conflict between Morocco and Spain. With conclusion tripartite agreement and GOS withdrawal from Sahara, we are taking fresh look at GOM requests. Embassy Rabat argues we should be forthcoming with GOM since it is part of long range program conceived in 1973 for steady upgrading of currently weak GOM military capabilities and is not designed to reverse current heavy military predominance of Algeria but to move Morocco toward something approaching parity. Embassy believes our broader interests are better served by supporting a friend than by demonstrating great concern for possible reactions of consist[Page 192]ent adversary. It is also noted that initial deliveries of F–5’s and TOWs not possible before mid-1977 and 1981, respectively.

4. Embassy Algiers concerned that resumption of delayed arms sales to Morocco (even if deliveries of some items not imminent) would be interpreted by GOA as support for Moroccan territorial expansion and abandonment of our proclaimed neutrality on Sahara. It also fears it will heighten GOM confidence, thereby increasing chance of armed conflict with Algeria, and may involve us in open ended commitment to GOM if its ventures lead it into difficulties. Embassy suggests that long-standing military supply commitments to GOM be honored but urges that we not take exceptional and highly visible measures to accelerate GOM buildup until Sahara situation clarifies.

5. Earlier GOM requests for the REDEYE were refused on grounds that it no longer is in production and is in short supply in our own forces. Moroccans are also aware of our concern that weapons could fall into terrorist hands, but insist there is no such threat in Morocco and that they would be satisfied with token number. We have denied REDEYE to all Mideast countries except Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan as matter of policy and feel no exception should be made for Morocco.

6. GIRM asked our Ambassador for USG assistance in obtaining 200 US-made 50 caliber machine guns and two million rounds of ammunition, stating it is prepared to purchase items commercially if grant aid not available. Mauritania is not currently eligible for grant, credit or direct USG sales. By informing Mauritanians that we would approve an export license for commercial sale if they wish to make cash purchase and can find the weapons they want, we would earn some political benefit without committing ourselves to any support.

7. We agreed that Algeria, already convinced that we back the GOM, undoubtedly will be irritated by any US arms deliveries or sales commitments to Morocco. However, we believe that we should follow a deliberate policy of doing enough for Morocco to reassure the GOM that we intend to proceed with our long-term program, as conceived in late 1973, for gradually upgrading its military capabilities. At the same time, reasonable care should be taken with scheduling of deliveries to avoid intensifying Algerian apprehension by giving impression we are engaging in major escalation of pace and content of our military supplies to Morocco.

8. We seek your concurrence with following recommendations which we believe will achieve these objectives:

A. Immediately approve submission to Congress of letter of offer totalling $135 million for the purchase by the GOM of 20 F–5E and 4F–5F aircraft (initial deliveries would be in mid-1977).

B. Provide price and availability data on 12 TOW-equipped Cobra helicopters (initial deliveries of helicopters possible in slightly over one year from order with TOW deliveries projected in 1981).

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C. Since F–5A aircraft which GOM wishes are not available, authorize DOD to pursue with GOM discussions concerning possibility of furnishing rebuilt Navy F–8s to Morocco (deliveries would be possible in 12 months).

D. Refuse to sell REDEYE missile to the GOM.

E. Do not make special effort to accelerate delivery schedules for items intended for Morocco except for sample units which can be used as training models prior to arrival of the remainder of the items.

F. We also seek your concurrence in our recommendation that an export license be approved for a commercial sale of 200 heavy machine guns and ammunition to the Mauritanian Government.

  1. Summary: The Department sought Kissinger’s approval of recommendations that would allow a gradual upgrade of Morocco’s military capabilities.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC OPS Staff, Box 18, Morocco (1). Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Weislogel; cleared by Atherton, Schaufele, Vest, and Ortiz; and approved by Sisco. Kissinger approved recommendations A through D and F. He wrote “wish to discuss” next to E. A handwritten notation on the first page of the telegram reads: “HAK actions below.” Kissinger was in Madrid to sign a Treaty of Cooperation and Friendship with Spain.