890.0145/3–1649: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Saudi Arabia 1


99. Fol for ur background use in discussions with SAG and ARAMCO. It deals with relatively minor differences between Dept and ARAMCO re recommendations SAG.

Although officials Interior approved in general text proposed proclamation ARAMCO plans recommend SAG (pages 5 and 6, A–23),2 they felt para 3,3 page 6, cld be improved and clarified make clear territorial waters (coastal sea) not affected by decree. If, for example, “such areas” in third sentence of para were interpreted as including coastal sea proclamation seems suggest coastal sea has character of high seas and subject free navigation, etc.

Whereas line 3, para 3, page 6, proposed ARAMCO draft begins “to its coast”, Interior officials suggested this shld read “to that coastal sea”. Whereas line 9, para 3, page 6 proposed ARAMCO declaration begins “of waters of such areas”, Interior officials felt clearer “of waters of areas of Persian Gulf seaward from coastal sea of Saudi Arabia”.

Dept agrees with Interior that above suggested changes wld clarify proclamation.

[Page 120]

Manley Hudson, expert engaged by ARAMCO for advice offshore oil wld not accept these suggestions. Regard first change, he said area he had in mind was contiguous to coast and not to coastal sea. Second change he felt redundant. Accordingly, A–23, Mar 2 went forward without these proposed changes.

Dept not considered Annex 2 in detail and therefore did not discuss thoroughly with ARAMCO lawyers. However, seems clear if Dept were do so and were consult fully other Govt agencies on subject; at least fol objections wld be made:

Decree uses 6-mile rule where US and UK have always insisted 3-mile limit;
Manner drawing lines around islands and shoals seems extend claims unduly, given configuration and shallowness Persian Gulf; and
Assertion 12-mile zone beyond coastal sea takes form which differs from US handling analogous problem in enforcing customs and prohibition laws.

Dept notes that in discussing “territorial waters” with PWOC (urdesp 42, Feb 18, 19494) Tawfiq suggested 3-mile limit presumably because 3-mile rule wld give SAG greater area to offer bidders for offshore rights neutral zone. If Leg aware other SA precedents for use less than 6-miles, advise Dept.

Renew suggestion you caution both SAG and ARAMCO that precipitate action in making any pretentious seaward claims might produce polit repercussions from Iranian side which shld if possible be avoided.

  1. This telegram was repeated to Tehran and Dhahran and was sent by air to Baghdad, Cairo, and London.
  2. Dated March 2, p. 111.
  3. This paragraph begins with the words “The subsoil and sea bed of those areas of the Persian Gulf”, p. 114.
  4. Not printed.