865.30/5–1348: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Dunn) to the Secretary of State

top secret

2176. The Four Power Naval Commission has been unable to coordinate any physical supervision of scrapping renounced warships by Italians. While three powers are in agreement that paragraph 2 (B) of naval protocol implies such supervision Soviet member has asked for adjournment of discussion on this point until time limit expires 15 June when vessels must be sunk if not reduced to state described in Embtel 300.1 Naturally Soviets would prefer that US and UK [Page 976] should derive no further credit for our generous gesture of renouncement and Soviet interests would be best served by requiring that vessels be sunk on June 15.

Inasmuch as we are bound by agreements and are virtually certain to have no support from French or British in sponsoring modification in requirement that non scrapped vessels be sunk, I feel that while there may still be time, if you agree, I should make our position plain to Foreign Minister along these lines:

In connection with Department’s message which I delivered to Sforza on October 62 our government declined to accept its share of the excess Italian Navy by invoking Article 2 (B) of the Four Power protocol and in so doing were motivated by a desire that Italy should dispose of these ships herself. We also felt that Italian economy would benefit by this action.

In order to allow Italy time for complete scrapping we sponsored a list of “minimum destruction” that would satisfy the four governments on June 15 that the military potential of the ships had been destroyed. My information is that Italy has not yet accomplished reductions outlined to any considerable extent and we feel it opportune to forewarn Italian Government that we cannot be expected to depart from agreements we have with other three powers and with Italy that non scrapped warships that have been renounced must be sunk on 15 June.

Because of time element very early instructions are requested (see Embtels 16703 and 19234).

Captain Pryce requests pass to Navy.

Sent Department 2176, repeated Paris 274, Moscow 58, London 192.

  1. In this telegram of January 21, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported that the four Ambassadors had informed the Italian Foreign Office that responsibility for supervising the scrapping of the warships renounced by the U.S. and the U.K. was within the competence of the Four Power Naval Commission and asked for the arrangement of facilities. Meanwhile the Commission, realizing that complete scrapping by June 15 was not possible, had drawn up a list of actions on hull, machinery, armament and electrical systems which would constitute “minimum destruction” to be achieved by April 15. (865.30/1–2148)
  2. The Department’s telegram 1879 of September 30, 1947, not printed, directed Ambassador Dunn to inform Count Sforza that the United States had determined to decline any share of the Italian fleet (865.30/9–3047).
  3. In this telegram of April 12, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported having learned that the French Embassy in Rome believed that Italy would ask for a general revision of the treaty’s naval clauses, but that France would vigorously oppose such action, particularly the retention by Italy of any modern battleships (865.30/4–1248).
  4. In this telegram of April 24, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported several recent indications that the Italian Government was seriously thinking of trying to avoid the scrapping of the battleships Italia and Vittorio Veneto, but that he was convinced that neither the French nor the British would approve, and certainly not the Russians after the Italian elections (865.30/4–2448).