811.20 Defense (M) Portugal/1498: Telegram

The Minister in Portugal (Norweb) to the Secretary of State

1429. Salazar’s wolfram proposals as set forth in my 1416, May 10, and 1407, May 10, represent very much what was to have been anticipated of him. Apparently he has decided that if he can maintain wolfram exports to Germany on a maximum basis of 900 tons for the current year he has little or nothing to fear from the Germans in the way of reprisals either military or economic. Salazar’s proposals go of course beyond the desiderata set forth in the Department’s 132, January 17, but the situation has so changed since then as to render these obsolete particularly in the light of the settlement reached in Spain.

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Any consideration the proposals might receive must be conditioned on the institution of strict and adequate controls. One outstanding difficulty should negotiation on such a basis be undertaken would be the reaching of an agreement on the amount of wolfram actually produced by the German mines the figure given by Salazar containing, according to our estimates, at least 20 tons per month of absorbed mineral. Incidentally in the course of our conversation Salazar informed me that no additions have been made to the 1942 lists recognized German concessions (of which we have never received a copy) and that since March 1 the Germans have only been permitted to export their own production, a figure placed by Salazar in the neighborhood of 75 tons a month whereas statistics obtained by us from secret sources are considerably higher. A further point of interest in our conversation was that on this occasion Salazar made no attempt to link the question of our supplies to Portugal with wolfram export limitation.

Salazar referred to the figure of 300 tons of immobilized wolfram (see my 1303, April 2968) and indicated that he would be prepared to make an arrangement whereby the alleged German share of 150 tons would only be released slowly and in small amounts.

Salazar maintained that his proposals would result in the reaching of a more favorable agreement than that attained in Spain. He based this statement on a percentage calculation and not on absolute figures, obviously, and I replied that so far as concerned actual amounts the enemy would be receiving far more favorable treatment from Portugal than from Spain. Salazar declined to consider the question from this point of view and adhered to his percentage argument.

At an informal meeting yesterday afternoon between representatives of the corporations and of the two Embassies the consensus was that of the alternatives suggested by Salazar the first was the least objectionable in the event it were decided to entertain the idea of negotiating on such a basis at all. Important points would of course be the period for which the 900 ton (or less) ceiling should run and the inclusion or not of the 150 tons of immobilized minerals in that total.

Sent Department, repeated London as 211; to Madrid by courier.

  1. Not printed.