852.00/4480: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Wilson)

516. Your 377, January 25, 11 a.m. Heretofore the London Nonintervention Committee has found any direct approach to this Government unnecessary due to a clear understanding of our policy of strict non-intervention in the Spanish situation.

This Government has no legal authority to require American vessels to submit to foreign inspection before proceeding to Spain. Such authority could be granted only by Congress. In fact, however, American vessels have to date played no part in carrying war materials [Page 233] or volunteers to Spam and it is our understanding that American vessels are not now calling at Spanish ports. We have no reason to believe that they will constitute any problem in connection with whatever measures for more effective non-intervention may be adopted. In any event, the Joint Resolution of January 8, 193728 makes unlawful the export of arms, ammunition and implements of war from the United States or its possessions to Spain or to any foreign country for transshipment to Spain or for use of either of the opposing forces in Spain.

We have strong doubt that the situation foreseen in your 377 will actually materialize. If it does materialize to an extent where a direct approach to this Government appears likely you may then, but only then, discreetly and confidentially advise such foreign officials as you deem appropriate that, in view of our well-known policy of non-intervention and in view of the very remote possibility that any actual cases involving American vessels may arise, it would be distinctly preferable not to approach this Government before a case actually does arise.

  1. 50 Stat. 3.