852.00/5–1047: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Secretary of State

top secret

2678. Personal for Acheson. Sargent gives me the following information relative to Spain. A member of the Foreign Office who had recently discussed Spain with the Belgian Chargé d’Affaires in the absence of the Belgian Ambassador here is reported to have said the Foreign Office had been considering the Spanish situation and was glad that it had not been placed on the agenda official meeting of the United Nations Assembly. To this the Chargé d’Affaires replied that Spain [Spaak?] would have been pleased had it been included on the agenda for he (Spaak1) had a personal grudge against Franco.

The member of the Foreign Office took this occasion to point out to the Belgian Chargé d’Affaires the consequences of economic sanctions against Spain. It would, he is reported to have said, involve the re-establishment of controls, the blockading of the Iberian Peninsula with warships and that Belgium would be asked to participate. Moreover, he said, economic sanctions would seriously affect the UK position and would have unfavorable consequences in other directions. For example, Spain was the principal source of pyrites for the UK. If the imports of this type of iron ore were prohibited it would mean a lower steel production in Britain, even though Swedish iron ore were substituted, since Swedish ore is of lower grade and requires more coal for its metallurgical benefaction. UK would probably, therefore, be compelled to seek steel from Belgium. Certainly however, he said, this situation would impel the UK to request larger allocation of coal from ECO, with corresponding diminished amount of coal to other coal consuming countries.

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The Chargé d’Affaires seemed to be impressed with this statement of the consequences of economic sanctions against Spain.

Sargent then showed me communication from the British Embassy in Portugal in response to a request from the Foreign Office as to whether Portugal would cooperate in economic sanctions, and as to their effect on Portugal. The Embassy in Lisbon has replied in substance as follows:—that economic sanctions against Spain would require the re-establishment of the controls of economic warfare that had been abandoned, that they would have unfortunate consequences in Portugal and that it would be impossible to make economic sanctions effective against Spain without Portuguese assistance, which it was stated categorically Portugal would not provide. Therefore if they were to be made effective they would necessarily have to be applied against Portugal also. This step would seriously impair friendly relations between Portugal and the UK and among other things might adversely affect the strategic advantages already obtained in the Portuguese islands (the Azores) and elsewhere.

  1. Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.