865.30/5–1548: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Italy

top secret

1386. Deptel 1137 Apr 20.1 Although SANACC sub-committee report which recommends Italy be urged proceed scrapping battleships [Page 978] without further delay, has not yet been formally approved, Dept believes there is general agreement sub-committee’s findings.

In view this general approval and time element involved Dept agrees you shd now make plain to FonMin US can not be expected depart from agreements with other three powers re disposition renounced naval units (ur 2176 May 13). You shd emphasize renunciation was decided upon by US as gesture support Ital Govt and contribution Ital economy; that Dept is disappointed Itals have not taken effective steps carry out their obligation; and that unless Itals take immediate and effective steps this direction US must either reclaim vessels (which we feel must be given consideration in view critical scrap needs) or insist with other three powers that ships be sunk June 15 in accord protocol provisions.

Ital Emb has just approached Dept informally re implementation naval clauses, raising question transfer allocated ships to France and possibility substitution newer battleships for Duilio and Doria (ur 1923 Apr 242). We are making clear Dept not prepared support revision protocol to permit substitution since other powers certain to oppose and because from practical point of view no real justification for retention Italia and Vittorio Veneto. Although Emb suggested transfers to France would encourage demands USSR and other recipients for immediate delivery their allocations, we are expressing opinion every effort shd be made expedite transfers to France, pointing out further procrastination will only lead to misunderstandings and recriminations at time close collaboration all western European powers important.3 We therefore urge unpleasant matter of naval transfers be concluded earliest possible, indicating we see no possibility avoid eventual transfer USSR and delays in other transfers already raising question whether Itals willing carry out commitments in good faith.4

  1. In this telegram, not printed, the Department informed Dunn that his telegram 1670 of April 12, 1948 had been referred to the SANACC Sub-Committee for Europe (865.30/4–1248).

    For telegram 1670, see footnote 3, p. 976.

  2. See footnote 4, p. 976.
  3. In telegram 2494 of May 10, 1948, not printed, Ambassador Caffery reported from Paris that the French Government was becoming increasingly irritated with Italian “procrastination” in turning over the vessels which France was scheduled to receive. One French official opined that “it is not possible seriously to discuss or even consider Italy’s incorporation in a western European defense system until Italians make firm arrangements for delivery to France of the vessels which latter needs.” (865.30/5–1048)
  4. In telegram 2269 of May 18, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported that Sforza had asked him to call and explained that he had been disturbed to learn that the Defense Ministry had apparently been responsible for failure to initiate the minimum destruction agreed on. Sforza had taken the matter up with De Gasperi who had issued strict orders that the work begin immediately. (805.30/5–1848)