Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Truman
Memorandum for the President
I am enclosing herewith a proposed memorandum determining the end of the emergency referred to in the Master Lend-Lease Agreements1 and directing me to make determinations, under the authority delegated by you in Executive Order No. 9630 of September 27, 1945,2 of the defense articles which are of use to the United States and, under such authority, to take measures to effect the return of such articles by the recipient lend-lease countries.
The lend-lease agreements with most of the governments of the lend-lease recipient countries other than the American Republics contain, in Article V, a provision under which the signatory governments have agreed to return to the United States “at the end of the present emergency as determined by the President” such defense articles as shall not have been destroyed, lost or consumed and as shall be determined by the President to be of use to the United States. The Soviet Government has been asked on several occasions to return to the United States in accordance with Article V of the Soviet Lend-Lease Agreement certain lend-lease merchant and naval vessels which must be returned because of requirements of United States law or because of our own [Page 977] needs. Other governments, with which we have concluded lend-lease agreements containing similar undertakings to return, have complied with requests of this type without the formal determination of the end of the emergency. The Soviet Government, however, although it has recently agreed to the return of eight merchant vessels, has not as yet agreed to the return of the naval vessels and has taken, and may continue to take, the position that the matter of the return of lend-lease articles is subject to decision in the settlement negotiations. The settlement negotiations have moved at a very slow pace. A reply to our general settlement proposals of June 25  was received only on December 20  and, in spite of recent discussions, the Soviet position continues to differ widely from our proposals which follow generally the principles accepted in settlements with other countries.
A determination of the end of the emergency referred to in Article V of the various Lend-Lease Agreements is proposed in order to eliminate the only possible technical loophole that may be the basis of the Soviet position regarding the return of articles requested by us and may lend force to our position that settlement be made for all lend-lease articles returnable under Article V of the Master Agreement. Such a determination of the end of the emergency will affect only those countries with which there exist applicable Lend-Lease Agreements and with which lend-lease settlements have not been concluded. It will not affect the obligations with respect to the return of silver, which are contained in separate agreements with various lend-lease countries.
There is also enclosed a copy of a letter dated February 6, 1948 which I have received from the Attorney General3 giving his view that the proposed memorandum terminating the emergency would not have any adverse effect upon existing legislation and approving the proposed memorandum with respect to form and legality.