811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/163: Telegram

The Chargé in Turkey (Kelley) to the Secretary of State

1211. For Merchant85 from Jackson.86 Following is a round-up of impressions and facts on chrome situation after 10 days here.

Biggest surprise is official British Embassy’s attitude which does not reflect spirit of urgency and action which you have conveyed and which I read into copies of cables from London to Ankara. Specific evidences of this attitude are hard to describe without being unfair because British here have a plausible reason for every item and against every suggestion. However, here are some of ideas which make up their policy.
Germans legal and moral right to full 180,000 tons chrome under Clodius agreement if they deliver required goods is accepted as an unassailable fact.
Decreases in this tonnage can be accomplished in only three ways:
Nondelivery by Germany which would bring about proportionate nondelivery by Turkey.
Secret Turk cooperation in delaying mine operations and transportation. The degree to which this will operate in our favor depends on how friendly Turks feel towards us and how frightened they are of Germans at any given time.
It may be possible for us to obstruct and delay chrome deliveries to Germany by off-record deals such as helping feed transportation workers who are not included in recently promulgated emergency relief measures and who presumably will be grateful and reciprocate anything we do for them.
Any attempt at this time to initiate hard business negotiation with Turks by offering any kind of inducement to break or make a dent in Clodius agreement will get nowhere. British will not accept argument that new offers and inducements should be tried anyhow on off chance that they might succeed because British claim such action would be construed by Turks as impugning Turk honor and would so antagonize them as to jeopardize future opportunities for further discussions.
They do not fully share London’s concern over chrome and while they recognize its importance they find it difficult to picture this metal as a direct weapon in winning war.
They have many political considerations on their minds which make them greatly fear to antagonize Turks. This feeling dampens any aggressive spirit.
If our attitude is as summed up by Finletter,87 “It looks hopeless but we have got to try”, British reply to this is, “We must not [Page 776] try anything except what is listed in (b) for fear of making the situation worse”.
Next surprise, and this is particularly important in view of foregoing, was degree to which our role is secondary to British. Existing chrome agreement is a British-Turkish contract and new agreement will be also an arrangement with Turks negotiated by British. British consider chrome agreement basically as a British affair. Although the atmosphere is of utmost friendship and informality with fullest exchange of information our position in discussions with British is actually limited to making suggestions which, if unacceptable to British here, can only be pursued further by making issue of matter which entails reference to London. Our discussions of chrome directly with Turks are subsidiary to British-Turkish negotiations and must be at a time and along lines which fit in with British program.
Although Turks feel that Allied war position has greatly improved they do not consider German invasion threat eliminated. Consequently there will be some stiffening of Turk attitude toward Germany, but not to extent of provoking her.
Draft of Turkish reply to British Ambassador’s letter, October 5 (Embassy’s 1189, November 22) besides confirming our right to all chrome above ground on January 8, whether at mines or delivery points, contains enough unclear points for genuine improvements to be made if Turks will play ball.
Mechanics of the Clodius agreement do not seem to be working out for either side because:
Latest information on German deliveries is they have delivered nothing in war materials. Turks accept German representations that Turkish changes in specifications have caused legitimate delays which effectively cancel March 31 deadline. However, Germans have so far delivered about 14,000,000 Turk pounds of 55,000,000 stipulated in Schedule I which gives them claim to about 11,000 tons chrome.
Turks have fallen down on their reciprocal deliveries to Germany.
Best expert opinion estimates 6 to 12,000 tons chrome can be mined during first quarter of ’43 and Germans are reported to have discovered this only recently.
This confusion will work either for or against us depending on how Turks choose to use it.
Confidentially British Ambassador left for London on 23. This will give you opportunity more effective contact if you want to persuade London to change Ankara-British attitude to a more positive direct program. In any event I consider it highly important British Ambassador should be impressed with absolute necessity for constant alertness to seize every opportunity presented by Turks. [Jackson.]
  1. Livingston T. Merchant, Assistant Chief of the Division of Defense Materials.
  2. Charles D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the Ambassador in Turkey.
  3. Thomas K. Finletter, Acting Chief of the Division of Defense Materials.