File No. 657.119/220

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State


8106. Your 6082 of December 17 [20]1 en clair. For your information and that of War Trade Board.

A copy of the latest counter-proposals of the War Trade Board was submitted to the Foreign Office for comment and the reply has just been received from Lord Robert Cecil. Briefly summarized it is as follows:

I have studied the text of the letter carefully and am happy to be able to inform you that I consider its terms generally satisfactory and that they represent in a general way the lines of policy which His Majesty’s Government would be prepared to adopt in the final agreement to be concluded with the Norwegian Government.

The only points on which I have any serious observations to offer are the following:

The stipulation in paragraph 2 that no pyrites should be allowed to go to Central powers in exchange for copper is satisfactory so far as it goes but in view of large Norwegian production and Germany’s urgent need we should have preferred absolute prohibition of export of pyrites to enemy.
The prior option asked for in paragraphs 3 and 4 on calcium carbide, calcium nitrate, ferro-silicon and molybdenite will be an effective safeguard only if United States and the Allies are prepared to buy up to prevent production. Moreover it is not quite clear whether prior option is intended to absolve Norwegians from their previous undertaking to restrict exports to enemy to fixed figures or whether they are now free to export any quantity or (on?) which we do not elect to exercise our rights of prior option. In latter case there is danger of Allies having to buy more than they require and the absence of any stipulation as to a reasonable price may make it possible for Germans to run up prices against them. This is especially true in case of molybdenite and we should have preferred absolute prohibition of exports of this material.
We attach special importance to that portion of paragraph 7 referring to “ingredients of munitions and supplies of war.” We note that it is hoped that the Norwegian Government will see reasonableness of prohibiting export to our enemies of all materials of this description whether specifically mentioned by Doctor Nansen or not. We trust that in further course of negotiations the United States Government will adhere strongly to this point of view and will use every means at their disposal to induce the Norwegian Government to give their formal adherence to it.

On the whole the British Government seem to be satisfied with the War Trade Board’s reply and their comments are largely concerned [Page 1113] with the phraseology of our stipulations. Copies of Cecil’s letter will be forwarded in the pouch leaving to-morrow. This telegram has been repeated Christiania for the information of Mr. Schmedeman.

  1. Ante, p. 1087.