Foreign relations of the united states 1969–1976 volume XXXVII energy crisis, 1974–1980 department of state washington
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- Kissinger 32. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting
Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Colby to
the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs
Washington, January 2, 1975.
[Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger–
Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 22, Saudi Arabia (1). Secret; Sen-
sitive. 5 pages not declassified.]
On January 3, 1975, The New York Times reported that Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger, in an interview with Business Week magazine
shortly before Christmas, said that he could not rule out the use of force
against oil-producing nations. He made clear, however, that such ac-
tion “would be considered only in the gravest emergency.” “I am not
saying that there’s no circumstances where we would not use force,” he
said, “but it is one thing to use it in the case of a dispute over price; it’s
another where there is some actual strangulation of the industrialized
world.” Asked about the interview, Kissinger remarked: “I have said it
would not come to that point, and that the oil problem would be dealt
with by other methods,” but he reiterated that “there’s no circum-
stances where we would not use force.” The December 23 Business Week
interview was reprinted in Department of State Bulletin, January 27,
1975, pp. 97–106.
The Embassy in Saudi Arabia reported that King Faisal and the
Saudi Government were “disturbed” by the “threatening implications”
of the statements that Kissinger made during the Business Week inter-
view. A Royal adviser told Ambassador James Akins: “This represents
a complete change in American policy and we must therefore revise
August 1974–April 1975 109
our own policy toward the United States.” Akins responded that there
was “no change” in U.S. policy and that he “had made the same state-
ments” himself in a Foreign Affairs article 2 years before. He also re-
minded the adviser that he had declared, both publicly in the United
States and privately in Saudi Arabia, that “invasion would be madness
but when countries are reduced to desperation they take ‘mad’ ac-
tions.” To help alleviate Saudi concerns, Akins requested additional in-
formation from the Department or a message from the Secretary. (Tele-
gram 32 from Jidda, January 4; National Archives, RG 59, Central
Foreign Policy Files, D750004–0636)
The Ambassador sent another telegram the following day in-
forming the Department that Minister of Petroleum Sheikh Ahmad
Yamani told him that the King was “depressed and worried by ‘Amer-
ican threats’ against Saudi Arabia.” Yamani also said that he had never
seen the King “so worried and so questioning of his relationship with
the United States.” Later that day, the King himself told Akins that he
was “extremely disturbed” by the “series of ‘American threats’ against
Saudi Arabia” that culminated in the Business Week interview. As for
the prospect of occupying the Saudi oil fields, Yamani said that doing
so would be “very difficult,” that the fields could be “sabotaged
easily,” that a “‘quick surgical operation’ would be impossible,” and
that the result would be the “loss of Saudi production for years.” Akins
believed, however, that Saudi officials would “calm down” once they
digested the Arabic translation of the complete text of Kissinger’s state-
ments. That said, he also thought that the Kingdom would be “stirred
up again” when the next newspaper or magazine article reported that
the United States proposed occupying Saudi Arabia or any other
oil-producing country. (Telegram 67 from Jidda, January 5; ibid.,
On January 8, the Department instructed Akins to tell the Saudi
Government that the question about military action “arose with spe-
cific relation to oil prices,” and that the Secretary “made it clear that we
did not consider military action to be an appropriate response to oil
prices.” The Department also instructed the Ambassador to point out
that the question itself was a hypothetical one regarding a “deliberate
attempt” by oil producers to “strangle the industrialized world”—the
“gravest emergency”—which Kissinger said did not apply to the
“present situation,” adding that he “did not foresee such a situation
arising.” The Department told Akins to point out that Kissinger never
mentioned the possibility of an invasion of Saudi Arabia in particular,
and that he had highlighted the “importance of maintaining the rela-
tionship of friendship between Saudi Arabia and the US.” (Telegram
1955 to Jidda; ibid., D750004–0717)
Kissinger replied personally in a note to Prince Sultan regarding
the Business Week interview (telegram 7266 to Jidda, January 11; ibid.,
110 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
P850106–2309), a gesture for which the Prince expressed “deep appreci-
ation.” Sultan also said that he hoped that the Secretary’s note, and a
similar note from President Ford to King Faisal (telegram 7265 to Jidda,
January 11; ibid., P850106–2304) would result in “calming passions” in
other Arab capitals. (Telegram 283 from Jidda, January 14; Ford Li-
brary, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle
East and South Asia, Box 29, Saudi Arabia—State Department Tele-
grams to SECSTATE–NODIS (3))
Although U.S.-Saudi tensions over the interview had dissipated by
mid-January, Yamani warned Akins that the Saudi National Guard
“had orders to prepare to blow up certain sensitive sections of the
Saudi oil fields and to fire certain wells should there be concrete plans
to invade and occupy them.” Yamani added that “there had been
inter-Arab discussion on the matter and any invasion would be fol-
lowed by cutoff of all Arab oil.” (Telegram 251 from Jidda, January 13;
Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in
the OPEC Capitals
Washington, January 13, 1975, 1757Z.
7457. Subject: Secretary’s Message to OPEC Governments. Ref:
Doha 0021 (Notal); Abu Dhabi 0047 (Notal).
Beirut pass Baghdad for
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750013–0012.
Confidential; Exdis. Drafted by George Q. Lumsden (NEA/ARP); cleared by Katz and in
NEA, EB, ARA, and EUR; and approved by Sisco. Sent to Abu Dhabi, Doha, Tripoli, Bei-
rut, and Quito, and repeated to Algiers, Caracas, Jakarta, Jidda, Kuwait, Lagos, and
In telegram 21 from Doha, the Embassy reported that Issa Kawari, Qatar Minister
of Information, Chief of the Emir’s Office, and Acting Foreign Minister, asked “about
press reports that Secretary had sent letters to five oil producing countries concerning
proposed producer/consumer conference” and “expressed personal disappointment
that Qatar did not rpt not receive letter.” (Ibid., D750006–0211) In telegram 47 from Abu
Dhabi, the Embassy reported increasing concern that the Department was “not doing
enough to give UAEG timely briefings” on “developments in U.S. policy that are of vital
concern” to the UAE. The Embassy also requested “guidance which could become basis
for oral briefing” to the Ministers of Petroleum and Foreign Affairs. (Ibid., D750007–0654)
August 1974–April 1975 111
1. On Dec 24, Secretary sent letters to seven OPEC governments
(those listed as info addressees to this cable) which included outline of
possible timetable and approach to multilateral producer/consumer
conference. This proposal stemmed from agreement reached between
Presidents Ford and Giscard d’Estaing during their Dec 14–16 meetings
in Martinique. Secretary has, since that time, sent no rpt no subsequent
messages on this subject to other OPEC governments. (N.B. At its dis-
cretion, Embassy Doha may wish to set record straight with Kawari:
neither Qatar nor UAE was an original recipient of Secretary’s letter.)
2. However, as result attention media have given Secretary’s mes-
sage and in awareness of sensitivities of other OPEC states such as
those noted in reftels, action addressees are, at their discretion, author-
ized to make oral approach to their host governments at appropriately
high level and to leave following aide-me´moire:
3. Following standard opening: “Ever since the start of the energy
crisis and the Washington Energy Conference, many governments, in-
cluding the United States, have felt that it would be useful at the right
time and with the right preparations to supplement the intensive bilat-
eral consultations that now exist between oil producing and oil con-
suming countries with some form of multilateral dialogue.
4. “Recent discussions between the United States and France in
Martinique resulted in an agreement on a possible timetable and ap-
proach to such multilateral contacts, a proposal which has now been
endorsed by the members of the International Energy Agency. Under
this approach there would be a four phase schedule: first, basic deci-
sions by the consumers on conservation, development of new sources
of energy and financial solidarity; second, a meeting among repre-
sentatives of producers and consumers to discuss the procedures and
agenda for a conference; third, intensive preparation of common posi-
tions for that conference; and fourth, the conference itself.
5. “Particular stress has been placed on the need for major energy
and financial decisions by the consuming countries in advance of the
proposed conference because a failed conference would be seriously
detrimental to all, consumers and producers alike. That is also a view
expressed by many representatives of producing countries, who have
repeatedly stressed the importance of conservation of energy, the de-
velopment of new sources, and financial stabilization.
6. “Although preparation among consumers is thus necessary in
advance, it should be stressed that the objective is cooperation, not con-
frontation. It is not intended that all contacts between producers and
consumers be conducted as a bloc to bloc dialogue. On the contrary, the
See Document 27.
112 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
United States would like to strengthen its bilateral contacts with oil
producing governments over the coming months so that cooperative
efforts to solve the international oil crisis can be made more effective.
7. “President Ford is now completing a series of major decisions on
domestic energy policy. These decisions will be announced in January.
They are expected to make a significant contribution to the solution of
the world energy problem.
8. “Over the coming months, the Government of the United States
looks forward to keeping in close contact on these issues with the gov-
ernments of OPEC states.” Complimentary close.
9. Please report host government reactions.
Washington, January 14, 1975, 10:42 a.m.–noon.
Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft
Jeanne W. Davis
Gen. George S. Brown
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil. For this first portion of
the minutes, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXVI, Arab-
Israeli Dispute, August 1974–December 1976, Document 126.]
[Secretary Kissinger:] We need a contingency assessment of what
happens in an Israeli-Arab war if the Russians want to play it rough.
Have the Russians the capability of launching missiles with high explo-
Source: Ford Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 24, WSAG
Meeting Minutes, January 1975. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. The meeting took place
in the White House Situation Room.
August 1974–April 1975 113
sive warheads from Syrian territory? Suppose they wanted to raise the
ante during a war?
Mr. Colby: They could.
Secretary Kissinger: The Russians have never played up to their
full capability in a crisis. Suppose they do.
Mr. Clements: The Israelis, after they have had time to think about
it, wouldn’t be too excited about F-4s in Saudi Arabia. They would be a
stabilizing influence. It’s possible the Russians would move into Iraq.
The most excited person would be the Shah.
Secretary Kissinger: The Shah may not like it, but he is manage-
able. He’s nothing like the Israelis.
Mr. Clements: I think the Shah would go up the wall.
Mr. Colby: The Shah would think he could control the situation
Secretary Kissinger: Bill’s (Clements) argument might carry
weight with the Shah but not the Israelis. There would be no chance of
selling it to them, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider doing it.
If we face the total oil embargo of the West, we have to have a plan to
use force. I’m not saying we have to take over Saudi Arabia. How about
Abu Dhabi, or Libya?
Mr. Clements: We want to get you over to the JCS think tank.
[2 lines not declassified]
Gen. Brown: [1 line not declassified]
Secretary Kissinger: You’d have trouble convincing Faisal.
Mr. Colby: He doesn’t have to know.
Secretary Kissinger: I was joking. Faisal would be thrilled by F-4s.
Mr. Clements: We can do it [less than line not declassified].
Secretary Kissinger: Maybe. Why not Abu Dhabi?
Mr. Clements: They have no reserves and no production facilities.
Mr. Colby: You’re talking about providing oil to Europe and
Japan, not the US.
Mr. Clements: [1 line not declassified]
Mr. Ingersoll: Iran has a lot.
Mr. Clements: That’s a different horse.
Secretary Kissinger: We’re talking about something that hopefully
won’t last more than six months to a year. If we assume that Iranian
supplies would continue and we concentrate on one country, which
one should it be?
Mr. Clements: Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Colby: [2 lines not declassified]
Mr. Clements: [2 lines not declassified]
114 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
Mr. Ingersoll: How long would it take to restore the facilities if
they were destroyed?
Mr. Colby: Three months.
Secretary Kissinger: They won’t destroy them.
Mr. Ingersoll: Did you see the Yamani telegram?
Secretary Kissinger: Yamani has the Americans psyched.
Mr. Colby: It could isolate Saudi Arabia from the Arabs.
Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Clements) I’ll come over and look at
your material. (to Gen. Scowcroft) Arrange it for next week.
Mr. Colby: May I come?
Mr. Clements: Sure.
Secretary Kissinger: We will have to have an NSC meeting on that
Mr. Colby: When? I would like to get the Russian estimate done
before the meeting.
Secretary Kissinger: Can you get it done by the end of next week.
We won’t have an NSC meeting for two weeks.
Mr. Colby: We can try.
Mr. Clements: (to Secretary Kissinger) I need to talk to you about
POL. We’re roughly 10 million barrels short in our storage facilities. We
have located plus or minus 18 million barrels of storage scattered
around in the Mediterranean, Singapore, etc. It is strategically located
and we can rent it on a short-term lease for about a year. We need badly
to get those filled.
Secretary Kissinger: How much are we down?
Mr. Clements: Our normal storage is 93 million barrels—we have
83 million. We have never recovered to the pre-hostilities rate.
Secretary Kissinger: What will it cost to fill them up?
Mr. Clements: Plenty; around $350 million. We need to ask the
Congress for it. We have to make them understand the possibilities and
Secretary Kissinger: I will raise it with the President tomorrow
Mr. Clements: Great.
Presumably telegram 251 from Jidda; see Document 30.
August 1974–April 1975 115
Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
Washington, January 15, 1975, 0512Z.
9370. Subject: Presidential Letter. For the Ambassador. Please de-
liver the following letter from President Ford to President Giscard
d’Estaing at the earliest opportunity on January 15 and in any event
prior to noon Washington time.
Dear Mr. President:
This Wednesday, in my State of the Union Address, I will formally
present policies to meet the economic and energy challenges which are
of major importance to the United States and to the international com-
I shall, at that time, make a number of detailed proposals,
many of which I outlined in my speech to the American people on
I write you in the spirit of collaboration that animates
our relations to share my thoughts on these new measures.
Our countries and our key trading partners have recently been
struggling with unemployment, inflation, and energy shortages. There
are, as we know, no easy answers to any of these problems, singly or in
combination, but it is clear that we cannot afford to address one aspect
of our difficulties while ignoring the others. Moreover, each country
must act to achieve a balance consistent with its priorities and its partic-
ular economic circumstances while recognizing it must act in a manner
which furthers rather than harms the economic well-being of other
My policies aim to deal directly with the economic slowdown we
now face without triggering the major inflationary pressures which
might result from an overly expansionary policy. A tax cut, along with
measures to stimulate investment, should reinvigorate the U.S.
economy and improve confidence. Under present conditions we be-
lieve it will not restimulate the inflationary spiral.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P840083–0869. Se-
cret; Niact; Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee. Drafted in the White House.
In telegram 1131 from Paris, January 15, the Embassy reported that, since Giscard
was at a Council of Ministers meeting all morning, Ford’s letter was delivered to the
Deputy Secretary General. (Ibid., P850038–2604)
The text of the address, which the President delivered on January 15, is in Public
Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1975
, pp. 36–46. The President
followed up the speech by sending “an omnibus energy bill,” the 13-part Energy Inde-
pendence Act of 1975, to Congress on January 30. See ibid., pp. 136–138.
On January 13, President Ford addressed the nation on his programs to address
the nation’s economic problems and the energy crisis. See ibid., pp. 30–35.
116 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
We are also taking major steps to reduce our dependence on im-
ported oil. We are determined to reduce oil imports promptly and sig-
nificantly and to end vulnerability to economic disruption by foreign
suppliers by 1985. Immediate actions to cut energy imports and to in-
crease both our domestic supplies and our ability to use our coal, gas,
oil and nuclear power are clearly necessary as are strong measures to
ensure adequate conservation and a new emergency storage program.
[illegible text] make new demands on the American people. [illegible
text] time, they provide the basis for a stronger U.S. economy in the fu-
ture. This, in turn, should have a beneficial impact on the international
In closing, let me emphasize the importance I have attached to
having had the benefit of your views on these issues during our
meeting in Martinique. We are strongly committed to working with
your government and others in confronting our common problems.
While much remains to be done, we are encouraged by the positive
steps which have been taken recently. For our mutual well-being, it is
imperative that we continue developing a common approach in
dealing with energy problems and that we continue to coordinate
closely in confronting our economic difficulties.
I look forward to staying in close touch with you on these impor-
Sincerely, Gerald R. Ford
His Excellency Valery Giscard d’Estaing
President of the French Republic
Ford sent the same letter to Schmidt and Wilson. (Telegram 9369 to Bonn, January
15; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850014–1483 and telegram
9371 to London, January 15; ibid., P840083–0885)
August 1974–April 1975 117
Memorandum From Robert Oakley of the National Security
Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger
Washington, January 20, 1975.
Economic Impact of Mid East Crisis—A WSAG Issue and Need for Formal
One of the issues on the approved agenda for last week’s WSAG
meeting on the Middle East
was the whole realm of possible economic
ramifications of a new Middle East crisis and what steps could be taken
to minimize the effects of Arab action in the economic (oil) sphere.
In the absence of in-depth discussion of this issue at the WSAG,
Deputy Secretary of State Ingersoll and Deputy Secretary of Defense
Clements both believe that some form of follow-up action is necessary.
Deputy Secretary Ingersoll has asked NEA (at Tab A)
to take the
lead in a follow-up study and to involve EB, S/P and other agencies
such as CIA and Treasury. I see two problems with this approach:
(a) There is no mention of involving NSC or DOD; (b) Treasury was not
involved in the WSAG exercise.
Deputy Secretary Clements (at Tab B)
has suggested that you re-
quest appropriate agencies to address the economic issues or that the
NSC lead a study which would involve all of the relevant agencies. Cle-
ments’ letter also contains some constructive observations on the vari-
ous substantive issues.
Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, “Outside the System” Chrono-
logical Files, Box 1, 1/10/75–1/21/75. Secret; Nodis; Sensitive. Sent for action. Colonel
Clinton E. Granger of the NSC Staff concurred. Sent through Scowcroft.
See Document 32.
Not attached. Ingersoll asked for a follow-up study to consider “what the Arabs
could do with regards to oil prices,” a boycott, and “the manipulation of their financial
holdings abroad.” He requested that the study examine “the effects such actions could
have on the U.S. and other countries, what we could do about such moves, and the steps
we need to take to prepare for such a crisis.” (Memorandum from Pendleton to Atherton,
Enders, and Lord, January 16; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, “Outside the
System” Chronological Files, Box 1, 1/10/75–1/21/75)
Not attached. Clements sought to explore the “possible economic measures, short
of war, that might be utilized to ease the economic/financial situation arising before or
during an Arab oil embargo.” He explained that such measures “might be designed to:
1) Make an Arab oil embargo less likely; 2) Limit its scope; and 3) Limit its effects, should
it occur.” Attached to Clements’s memorandum is a Department of Defense background
paper that outlines the “economic options available to the U.S., Western Europe, and
Japan” that would help achieve the three goals Clements listed. He concluded that such
options “would be most effective if taken long before an embargo begins and would also
greatly increase the effectiveness of other U.S. and allied options after an embargo is im-
118 Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVII
In view of the interest in and the importance and sensitivity of this
issue, you may wish to recommend that the NSC chair an inter-agency
study on the economic issues of a possible Middle East conflict, as a
follow-up to the WSAG meeting. Alternatively, you could have such a
study done by the Under Secretaries Committee. In either case, the
study should be completed within three weeks’ time. In the interim, no
action should be taken on various contingency measures without your
We assume that State, NSC, DOD and CIA—the original WSAG
participants—should be involved in this matter. You may or may not
wish to include Treasury or the Federal Energy Agency in this particu-
lar follow-on study.
That you agree to a formal follow-on study on the
economic aspects of a Mid East conflict by indicating your preference
for the following:
Agree with study under the USC
Agree with study chaired by NSC in inter-agency framework
Prefer original WSAG participants only
Kissinger checked the second and fourth options.
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