The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Belgium
530. Reurtel 663 Apr 3.1 Depts position on continued export of tanks was stated in A–179 Mar 2 to London, copy of which was forwarded to you. Purpose has been to obtain right to approve destinations to which tanks would be shipped in order to make sure that they would not be [Page 315]sent to undesirable destinations. Dept requested cessation of current shipments only as interim measure pending final solution. While effect of this action would obviously fall on Argentina, action itself was not directed against Argentina and was not intended to raise merits of further exports to Argentina as primary question. From security viewpoint Dept has not been concerned with shipments already made, but with large number of remaining tanks as to which disposition and ultimate destination were unknown to us. Feeling here is that it would be reasonable for US Gov to share in deciding destination of these tanks, both on security grounds and in view of fact that original sale by Brit Ministry of Supply was in violation of US–UK Military Holdings Agreement, and also that subsequent sales of tanks in operable condition have been in violation of contract between Brit Ministry of Supply and Bel Overseas Trading Corp.
Foregoing intended to express what Depts overall objective in this matter has been. Following concerned with specific proposal export over 600 tanks to Argentina. Dept has consulted Army on this question, and Army is considering whether proposed shipment is desirable in view of possible military requirements of Western Union. Intend inform Spaak this aspect of question under consideration. Will notify you when final conclusion reached.
Sent Brussels, rptd London as 1258 and Buenos Aires as 313.
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