S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351: NSC 65 Series

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Webb) to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay)1
top secret

Subject: First Progress Report on NSC 65/3, “United States Policy toward Arms Shipments to the Near East.”

NSC 65/3 was approved as Governmental policy on May 19, 1950. It is requested that this Progress Report, dated August 7, 1950, be circulated to the members of the Council for their information.

Important Action and Developments Affecting NSC 65/3: On May 25, 1950, the United States Government took an important step in line with NSC 65/3, particularly with reference to Conclusions 12d and 12e thereof. On that date the United States Government, together [Page 177] with the Governments of the United Kingdom, and France, issued the declaration set forth below. The declaration was drafted during the course of the London Foreign Ministers Meeting.
[Here follows a verbatim repetition of the Tripartite Declaration of May 25, 1950; for text, see page 167.]
In the Arab states and Israel, official reception of this important step in implementation of NSC 65/3 has been generally favorable. Responsible Israel and Arab Government leaders have recognized that the declaration was a move to provide the Near Eastern states with confidence in future security, and to promote a sense of stability in the area. However, immediately after the declaration was issued there was a certain amount of criticism of it in the Arab states, particularly in press circles, on such grounds as that the declaration represented an unwarranted interference by the Great Powers in the affairs of the Near Eastern states; that it “froze” the territorial status quo and would prevent future amendment of the Palestine armistice lines; that it indicated a division of the Near East by the Great Powers into spheres of influence; and that it favored Israel and would permit Israel to acquire as much arms as it wanted. Diplomatic representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom in the Near East set to work to dispel these misapprehensions and misunderstandings, and on June 12 the Council of the Arab League issued a joint commentary on the declaration which was generally favorable.
The Israeli Government, as well as the Israeli press and Zionist elements outside of Israel, were pleased with the declaration. Criticism by pro-Israeli elements in this country of the US Near Eastern arms export policy has greatly lessened. There has been general satisfaction in Israel, as well as in the Arab states, with the assurances given by the three powers that they would take action to prevent aggression by any party in the Near East. In Israel the declaration was particularly welcomed as revealing the conviction of the three powers that Israel was now established as a permanent element in the Near East.
In the United States the three power declaration was hailed in press circles as being an important and necessary step to bring unity to the policies of Great Britain, France, and the United States in the Near East. The American press likewise considered the declaration to be a major contribution to Near Eastern stability and security.
It is apparent that the declaration has had a beneficial effect in reducing tension in the Near East. It is hoped that one of the results of the declaration will be that the Near Eastern Governments will in the future place less emphasis upon the necessity for acquiring large amounts of arms, and will feel able to devote more of their energy to productive ends. Thus the trend toward peace will be strengthened. [Page 178] The US will remain alert for any developments which may unfavorably affect this trend.
General Implementation of NSC 65/3: The US is supporting the military position of the United Kingdom in the Near East, including the current plans for Anglo-Egyptian and other Anglo-Arab military cooperation. There continues the close consultation with the British Government which has enabled us to be kept fully informed on the amount of military equipment actually shipped or to be shipped to the Near East by the United Kingdom. In addition, arrangements have been made with the Government of France for similar consultation and exchange of information.
The US Government continues to base its Near Eastern arms export policy on the principle of allowing the shipment to the Near East of only such military equipment as the US considers necessary to help the states there to maintain internal order and provide for legitimate defense. Under this policy shipments of military equipment of appropriate categories are being permitted to go forward to Israel and the Arab states. The US Government continues to seek to avoid being drawn into any arms race in the area.
Evaluation of Policy: The policy set forth in NSC 65/3 continues to be valid. In following this policy the US is contributing to the security and stability of the Near East and is taking action which is of benefit to the strategic interests of the US.
James E. Webb
  1. Drafted by Rockwell of ANE.