861.24557H/1–1647: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State

100. Translation follows Tass item published Soviet press January 15.

“Question of Spitzbergen (Svalbard Archipelago):

Statements have appeared in recent days in Norwegian press as well as in press of certain other foreign states concerning negotiations which have taken place between Soviet and Norwegian Governments regarding Spitzbergen (Svalbard Archipelago). Authoritative Soviet circles1 and informed Tass as follows concerning these negotiations:

At end 1944 and beginning 1945 negotiations took place between Soviet and Norwegian Governments concerning Spitzbergen Islands, Soviet side having raised question of necessity for revision of treaty on Spitzbergen concluded February 9, 1920 in Paris.

This treaty, which introduced radical change in status of Spitzbergen Islands which had previously been considered no man’s land whereas Bear Island included in Spitzbergen Archipelago group was actually Russian island, was signed without knowledge of Soviet Union and without its participation. Moreover as states which had fought against Allied powers were among signatories of this treaty this treaty cannot preserve its validity.

This treaty did not take into consideration USSR security interests in north as well as important economic interests of Soviet Union. As regards question of security of USSR, as Second World War particularly showed, Spitzbergen Islands, where lies western exit to ocean, have in this connection exceptionally important significance for Soviet Union in north. In economic sense significance of Spitzbergen Archipelago to Soviet Union is apparent from fact that before Second World War northern regions of USSR and Soviet fleet in north were supplied with coal acquired by Soviet organizations on Spitzbergen Island in approximate amount of 400,000 tons annually as compared with general coal output for Spitzbergen Island of 600,000 to 650,000 tons.

During Soviet Norwegian negotiations mentioned understanding was reached concerning necessity for joint defense of Spitzbergen Islands. It was also envisaged that consultation be achieved with pertinent [Page 1009] Allied governments concerning revision of 1920 treaty. But negotiations were not concluded.

In November 1946 during General Assembly session in New York exchange of views in spirit of preceding negotiations took place on this question between USSR Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov and Norwegian Foreign Minister Lange. [”]

Sent Department as 100, repeated Oslo as 1, London as 12.

  1. Apparent omission.