The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Belgium
823. We wonder whether Brit, French and Dutch (Embtel 1102 May 29) as well as Belg Govts realize significance from point of view of US public and Congressional opinion of Belg Govt’s action in shipping [Page 320] tanks to Argentina for financial reasons. Obviously US Govt as not going to impose additional financial burdens on Amer taxpayer to furnish Mil equipment to any of signatories of Brussels Treaty while one of them exports Mil equipment demilitarized or otherwise to non-European countries. Idea of demilitarizing tanks completely misses point.
Senate Appropriations Committee has severely warned Army future requests for appropriations for equipment for our own forces will be closely scrutinized to ascertain whether or not such equipment has previously been declared surplus and made available to other Govts. Present Belg-Argentine contract if carried out could have repercussions out of all proportion to Mil or financial value of tanks on any future requests from any of five Govts for US Mil equipment. French in particular should have lively interest this aspect.
Repeat your 1102 to Paris and Hague and advise Belgs immediately substance this message.
Sent Brussels as 823 Rptd London 2009 Paris 1883 and Hague 218.