The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11:26 p.m.]
66. Naval Attaché6 has been informed by UndSecy Chilean Navy7 that Defense Minister8 “expects to abrogate contracts of both Air and Naval Missions in near future, quite possibly during Arnold’s visit.”
Naval Attaché, Military Attaché9 and Chiefs Naval and Air Missions were informed in strict confidence of content Deptel 30, January 11, re interim allocations military aircraft for Chile. In view Dept’s admonition that this was not to be disclosed to Chilean officials Naval Attaché could not refer to that interim allocation military aircraft. From remarks which UndSecy made, Naval Attaché gained impression he knew something was in wind re aircraft but there was nothing said to indicate whether Minister Defense was aware of this when he made reported statement to UndSecy re abrogation of Air and Naval Mission contracts. As explained above, Naval Attaché could of course not seek clarification this important point.
In any event, as frequently reported our failure implement staff conversations could only lead to Chilean Govt questioning desirability continuing Naval and Air Missions and above report lends further emphasis to plea contained my 58, Jan 1410 that interim allocation military aircraft should be offered Chile soon as possible. I earnestly hope Dept will proceed this matter without further delay to be followed soon as possible with offer interim allocation for naval and ground material.
Memo Dept’s conversation with Mora on Dec. 2810 states that though it was hoped interim program may be put into effect future, making available limited amount ground equipment and possibly some non-tactical aircraft, no hope could be held out in respect availability combat aircraft. I assume this was known to Defense Minister and was a determining factor in influencing his attitude reported above and that therefore Dept’s subsequent decision to offer combat aircraft described in its 30, Jan. 11, may be sufficient to alter attitude Minister Defense, especially if coupled with above mentioned offer interim allocation for naval and ground material. In view Dept’s admonition of secrecy, I am taking no steps here.[Page 562]
Naval Attaché also reports according to UndSecy Chilean Navy that Levenson, representative of Vickers-Armstrong who is now in Lima, is due return to Santiago Jan 20 with “specific details for sale destroyers, frigates and [submarines.] British Ambassador12 twice offered Chilean Govt British Naval Mission and I have no doubt they would be delighted to furnish Naval and Air Missions with necessary ships and planes to Chile, should they be given opportunity.