The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)
10694. Embassy Rio de Janeiro reports60 that representative of British Vickers Armstrong by name Leveson has just made offer of considerable number of all types combatant vessels with equipment and presumably instruction and experts at prices described by Brazilian Navy Minister61 as substantially scrap value. Leveson stated he expected to make similar offers in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Brazilians concerned about possibility armament race in Americas and interference with orderly development of inter-American defense in cooperation with US. Rio’s tel was repeated to Buenos Aires, Santiago and Lima.
It was impossible for me to see Halifax62 but I requested Braden63 to express to Hadow64 of British Embassy our grave concern over this development and to point out that it might be first step in armament race which we all wish to avoid. Hadow expressed sympathy our views and promised communicate London and British Embassy Rio.
Please take up informally with Foreign Office on basis of danger starting armament race Latin America and of complicating inter-American defense plans. Telegraph report to Department and repeat to Embassies Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Lima. Our Embassies in four Latin American countries named have been instructed to discuss with British Ambassadors.