The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:12 p.m.]
268. Military Attaché informs me he learned yesterday from Sub-Secretary Ministry Defense23 that British had submitted voluminous lists war equipment to Chilean Govt at very low prices. Lists included US equipment. Date list not ascertained. He said Ministry Defense was taking no action in hope making arrangements for arms from US.
Today British Military Attaché24 in reply to direct question of US Military Attaché acknowledged in part truth above and vaguely hinted British commercial interests may have made offers to Chilean Govt.
(US Military Attaché especially requested British Military Attaché not be quoted this connection).
Dept will recall that for several months past I have submitted frequent reports and recommendations this subject setting forth my opinion that we should in our own interest meet this issue. I expressed hope that we should arrive at some hard and fast arrangement which would prevent any non-American country particularly Russia and Britain sending any arms whatever to this hemisphere (see particularly my telegram 1517, December 525 and previous). This apprehension would appear to be borne out by Dept’s secret A–18, February 25,25 kindly furnishing me most illuminating passages from British Foreign Secretary’s letter to SecState dated January 1426 in which Bevin said Britain was preparing initiate discussions with US as first step towards world arms traffic control convention; pointed out their arms trade in South America was legitimate in itself; that most of South American navies had, for example, always been British-built; and that some these countries would keep their old connections.
Re list arms submitted by British, their Military Attaché has quite understandably declined thus far furnish US Military Attaché with copy and it is most unlikely Chileans would be willing do so either.
Accordingly would be very helpful to Embassy if Dept might consider requesting British Govt in London furnish information and I would needless say be most grateful any data which Dept in position furnish.