835.24/8–1048: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Diplomatic Representatives in the American Republics

The following information is provided in view of several comments and inquiries from American diplomatic missions and representatives of other governments regarding the scope and nature of recent sales of military equipment to Argentina by the United States, as reported in the press.

[Page 327]

Until June, 1947, Argentina was permitted to purchase no military equipment in the United States. At that time, however, practically all other Latin American governments were sold moderate amounts of surplus United States arms which were allocated to the respective countries in accordance with their relative military strength as indicated in the bilateral staff conversations of 1945. No bilateral staff conversations were held with Argentina; consequently, during the past year informal conversations were had with Argentine Army authorities regarding their defense needs. Subsequently, this Government sold to Argentina a moderate amount of military equipment, the total quantity of which was less than what Argentina would have received if she had been included in the “interim program” on the same basis as other Latin American countries. Actually, therefore, Argentina, despite her acquisitions from this Government during recent months stands in a relatively less favorable position in regard to arms procurement from this Government than do most of the other American republics.

Argentina has also acquired some amounts of military equipment (particularly aircraft and miscellaneous unarmed naval craft) directly from commercial sources in the United States. Licenses were issued for the export of these items under the same policy as applies to all other Latin American governments. (Argentina has also purchased some jet aircraft and other types of planes from Great Britain, with which this Government has had nothing to do.)

Finally, Argentina has attempted to obtain industrial equipment in the United States for development of her munitions industry. Such efforts have, of course, been entirely on a commercial basis and do not involve official participation of this Government.

No “secret” information, weapons, plans, patents, or other material have been made available to Argentina by this Government in connection with the former’s armament program.

In all aspects of military cooperation, this Government is treating Argentina on a no more favorable basis than ony other Latin American government.

The substance of the above may, in your discretion, be communicated orally and informally to representatives of the government to which you are accredited in the event they express apprehensions over any alleged favoritism on the part of this Government towards Argentina in the matter of armaments.