Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins) to the Deputy Director of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (Ohly)

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Subject: The Italian Peace Treaty in Relation to MDAP and NATO.

We agree with the sentiments expressed in your memorandum of July 201 concerning the military clauses of the Italian Peace Treaty and hope that it will be possible to revise these provisions in accordance with the principles of international law and the procedure established in the Treaty. Naturally, in case of a general war in which Italy would [Page 1511] be a belligerent the Allied Powers can quickly agree to ignore the provisions of the Treaty, and we would be prepared to act promptly to secure such agreement.

There are two questions which merit immediate consideration: (1) what can be achieved within the limitations of the Treaty, and (2) what action can be taken to remove these limitations?

Although the Peace Treaty established limitations upon the size of Italy’s military forces and upon the quantity and types of military production, the Italian Armed Forces at present are by no means up to the full efficiency possible within the Treaty limits. There is still much room for improvement within these limits by supplying forces with modern weapons, by improving the quality and morale of the corps of non-commissioned officers, and by developing the Italian Armed Forces into a highly trained organization capable of serving as a nucleus of rapid expansion at some future date. Since military conscription is the policy of the Italian Government, the legal availability of manpower does not present a problem. The problem is one of improving the training and equipment.

The first step, which should be taken immediately, is the expediting of MDAP shipments to Italy. The material and psychological effect of delays in MDAP shipments upon the Italian military preparedness, which has been previously communicated to you, is becoming of increasing importance. As soon as this problem is adjusted, considerable progress can be made in strengthening the Italian military forces.

Another step which might be taken immediately is the development of arrangements under which Italy could produce armaments for export to MDAP countries. In the initial stages the manufactured items should be those not defined in the Treaty as war matériel. We would be prepared to undertake discussions initially with the British and subsequently with other principal signatories of the Treaty concerning the arrangements which might be developed within the scope of the Treaty provisions whereby Italy could manufacture items for export, the export of which might possibly be construed as contrary to the provisions of the Treaty.

We also agree that it is appropriate at this point to explore the possibility of using Italian manpower in forces generally required for the defense of Western Europe. This question should in our opinion be posed for consideration by the NATO, not in relation specifically to Italy, but in general terms. One possibility of increasing Italian armed strength, which we support, is by having anti-aircraft defenses manned by “civilian defense” personnel. It is estimated that these defenses would normally require 80,000 men.

With reference to the second question we do not believe that either a legal or practical basis exists at this time for abrogating or revising the provisions of the Italian Treaty. Italy has not yet reached full [Page 1512] strength within Treaty limits, and it is not yet established whether MDAP assistance could more than attain this objective.

It would seem wise to postpone for the time being consideration of revision of the Treaty until we are certain that we can provide the necessary assistance and until Italy has been admitted into the United Nations. Legally, the Treaty can be revised by agreement between Italy and the signatories to the Treaty, including the Soviet Union, or alternatively, after Italy becomes a member of the United Nations, the military clauses can be revised as stipulated in Article 46 by agreement between Italy and the Security Council of the United Nations. Under present conditions in which the Soviet Union is preventing Italy, by use of the veto, from becoming a member of the United Nations, it is a practical impossibility to revise the military clauses of the Peace Treaty in accordance with established procedures.

Until the provisions of the Peace Treaty are revised or, in time of war, abrogated by action of the Allied Powers, we believe that the provisions of the Treaty, while being interpreted as liberally as possible, should be honored. Open violation of the Peace Treaty by Italy would provide effective arguments for its enemies in their effort to keep Italy from becoming a member of the United Nations.

We hope that the question of Italian membership in the United Nations may be effectively settled in its favor. Even after it has become a member, however, it will probably not be possible for the Italian Peace Treaty to be revised because of the threat of Soviet veto. If the Soviet Union again leaves the Security Council, we would be prepared to support action by the Security Council revising the military clauses of the Italian Peace Treaty if such action were advisable in the light of other aspects of United States foreign policy.

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