S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351: NSC 72 Series

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Subject: NSC 72—United States Policy Toward Spain


Changing conditions resulting from Soviet-inspired aggression and the consequent danger of global war, require a reconsideration of US policy toward Spain which will serve the immediate requirements of our national security.


In NSC 72 the JCS presented the desirability of close military relations with Spain, and preferably Spanish participation in the NAT. [Page 1578] In NSC 72/1 the Department outlined the political reasons which militate against such action. But recognizing the desirability of closer military cooperation with Spain, we requested more detailed information concerning the military requirements the JCS have in mind. However no further comment has been received from the JCS since this matter was last discussed in June and the Department has therefore prepared the attached paper2 for submission to the NSC.

This paper reviews the following considerations which emphasize the need for closer military relations with Spain: 1) the potential military value of Spain’s strategic position, in light of the increasing deterioration of the international situation; 2) although Spanish participation in MDAP and NAT is not now possible, we can begin to provide for Spain’s contribution to the common defense in line with our basic NAT objectives; and 3) much can be done, without arousing the political objections outlined in NSC 72/1, to increase the military value of Spain in a manner which will contribute to the development of strength in the NAT area, but delay in doing so may well mean losing the opportunity.

The paper recommends that our immediate objective should be to develop the military potentialities of Spain’s strategic geographic position for the common defense, all such action to be guided by the political considerations set forth in NSC 72/1. When plans for the use of Spain for the common defense of Western Europe and the Mediterranean and North Atlantic areas have been completed we should approach the Spanish Government in order to acquire such facilities as air and naval bases. The sale of military equipment should be permitted having in mind that the NAT countries have priority for our aid, and provision should be made for a number of other steps in the direction of closer military cooperation. These new relations with the Spanish Government should be carried out through the Embassy in Madrid and the service Attachés without special missions or emissaries. This policy should be discussed with the British and French Governments for the purpose of informing them of our decision and, if possible, of agreeing on a common policy. If the latter is achieved the NAT Council of Deputies should be informed and an effort made to establish a common NAT policy along these lines.

The paper recommends that our ultimate objective should be Spanish participation in the NAT and MDAP and that we should prepare the way for discussions with the British and French to achieve this objective. After agreement is reached in the NAT, discussions with the Spanish Government should indicate that their contribution [Page 1579] of troops to the integrated defense forces would be necessary to Spain’s admission to the NAT and a basis for assistance under the MDAP.


It is recommended that the attached paper be approved and forwarded to the NSC.
During the discussion of this paper in the NSC it is recommended that you supplement the considerations in the second paragraph of the discussion above with the following two points:
It is desirable that a decision on this question be reached before the Ambassador leaves for Madrid.3
Domestic public opinion, and particularly Congress, aroused by the heightening international tension, has indicated that intensified demands will shortly be made to provide for Spanish participation in defense plans for Western Europe and the Mediterranean and North Atlantic areas. The vigor of this opinion, motivated largely by considerations of Spain’s strategic importance, was indicated by the Congressional action on loans for Spain last August following the early events in Korea. In light of the more serious developments since then, we may expect that Congress will press for far more drastic steps. The logical extension of the sentiments expressed in Congress last August would be action stipulating Spanish participation in the MDAP and Spanish association with the NAT, which at this time would conflict with the integrated policies and defense plans we are developing with our allies, and would undermine the spirit of unity and cooperation which exists today. However, unless the Administration soon takes some initial steps toward Spain’s ultimate participation in these plans, in a manner consonant with our basic policy objectives in Western Europe, the possibility of Congressional action providing for military assistance for Spain and Spanish participation in the NAT may well become an early reality.

Concurrences: G; S/A

  1. The precise date on which this paper was transmitted is uncertain. A notation on the bottom of page 1 reads “prob. post Nov. 25.”
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Stanton Griffis, Ambassador-designate to Spain.