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

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

Subject: Second Progress Report on NSC 65/3 “United States Policy Toward Arms Shipments to the Near East.”2

NSC 65/3 was approved as Governmental policy on May 19, 1950. It is requested that this Progress Report, as of November 24, 1950, be circulated to the members of the Council for their information.

1. Important Action and Developments Affecting NSC 65/3:

On September 11, 1950, the British Government informed Egypt that it was suspending the shipment of jet planes, tanks, and certain types of radar which the Egyptian Government had on order and which were to constitute part of the armament of the Egyptian army as projected by the British Chiefs of Staff. This action was taken as a result of increasing demands for arms in other areas, and in order to induce a more cooperative attitude on the part of Egypt, particularly with respect to the latter’s demand for withdrawal of British troops from the Suez area, although the Egyptian Government would permit their re-entry in time of war. Later, the British Government moved to release some of the tanks, but opposition in the British Parliament temporarily forestalled this plan.

[Page 187]

Until very recently, the British Government would not consider applications from Israel for the export of arms from the United Kingdom, despite the fact that in the US–UK–French declaration of May 25, 1950,3 concerning security in the near East it had recognized the need of Israel for arms for legitimate security purposes. On November 29, 1950, the Department was informed by the British that henceforth the United Kingdom will accept applications from Israel for military equipment with the exception of tanks and jet planes.

Another event which has not as yet affected the implementation of the subject policy to any significant extent, but which presents additional possibilities for future implementation, is the recent amendment to Section 408(e) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 which provides for extension of cash-reimbursable aid to any country “whose ability to defend itself or to participate in the defense of the area of which it is a part, is important to the security of the United States.” This amendment makes possible the provision of arms to countries in the Near East, on a cash-reimbursable basis, upon the determination that such countries fulfill the requirement stated in the amendment. At the present time Saudi Arabia is the only state in the area to be so designated.

2. General Implementation of NSC 65/3:

The United States has continued to support the military position of the United Kingdom in the Near East, with particular respect to Anglo-Egyptian relations.

This Government is also continuing its policy of permitting the export to the Near East of only such arms as are considered necessary for the legitimate requirements of defense and internal security of the countries in that area, and is continuing exchange of information with the British and French Governments regarding such shipments.

3. Evaluation of Policy:

This policy, as manifested in the shipment of military equipment and in the US–UK–French declaration of May 25, 1950, regarding the security of the Near East, has been generally successful in lessening the tension in the area and reducing the danger of an arms race.

Now that the danger of an outbreak of hostilities within the Near East region has lessened considerably, and at the same time the possibility of external aggression appears to have increased, it is more than ever in the security interest of the United States, in accordance with the conclusion of NSC 65/3, that the Near East be militarily strengthened for defense against communist aggression and that the countries of the area obtain their arms from friendly sources. To this [Page 188]end it is essential that the U.S. and U.K. relations with these countries be strengthened through such measures as increased military training, military equipment that can be made available, and other manifestations of U.S. and U.K. security interests in the region.

  1. Drafted by A. R. Day of NE, cleared with S/A. A handwritten notation in the margin of the source text reads: “S/ISA advised, but did not wish to see this.”
  2. For text, see p. 163.
  3. For text, see the circular telegram of May 20, p. 167, and footnote 3 thereto.