740.5/1–1051: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Spofford) to the Secretary of State


Depto 400. Following is fuller report of discussion on use of export controls to insure adequate supplies for NATO military production (D–D)51(3)1 at January 10 meeting of deputies.

(a) UK deputy2 explained background of document including references to both NY NAT Council discussion (C 5 D/4 final)3 and September tripartite NY agreement on export controls.4 He drew distinction [Page 997] between criteria of strategic importance to Soviet bloc and requirements for NAT defense, assuring deputies that D (51)3 does not affect action or mechanisms under strategic criteria, but supplements them. UK deputy explained, somewhat apologetically, that D(51)3 more harmless than might appear and intended protect supplies of few minor items not otherwise subject export controls, such as sulphuric acid, tin plate, sheet steel, rosin, bristles, pyrethrum and electric motors, but not likely involve “major commodities”. He also pointed out proposed resolution uses two existing NAT bodies rather than creating new mechanism, provides for governments have several opportunities take positions prior time deputies finally make recommendations on embargo and that resulting NAT action constitutes only recommendations to Governments.

(b) Danish deputy5 strongly supported by Netherlands deputy,6 stated he had not received final position from his Government, but that they are seriously concerned over possibility being committed to embargo that might result in counter-embargo from Soviet bloc of such items as coal on which Danish economy greatly dependent. Both deputies insisted paper went too far in specifying any particular measure that might be taken and asked that for present deputies agree only to ask for study to determine items in short supply that might require steps to prevent shipment to Soviet bloc. Definition of such measures would follow later. Netherlands deputy, in effort avoid use of word “embargo” pointed out that other devices such as preclusive buying might obviate need to employ embargo.

(c) UK deputy attempted reassure Denmark and Netherlands deputies by repeating that document called only for recommendations and that no attempt would be made force a country to embargo a minor item with resulting loss of major imports. Both US and French deputies7 supported acceptance papers. US deputy made point all agreed to necessity getting on with defense program and assuring adequate supplies therefor, that resolution was logical step toward this objective and merely put existing machinery in use to obtain recommendations for deputies to consider. He observed that procedure provided several stages at any of which country governments could make known their ideas and reiterated result would constitute only recommendations with no commitment at this time to impose embargoes. He pointed out only principle involved is agreement embargo is appropriate device to use if items are found to be in short supply and there is risk of their flowing to Soviet bloc.

(d) Netherlands and Denmark deputies insisted on their position with result that deputies agreed to revision by UK of resolution [Page 998] providing for DPB and advisory group to investigate problem, make lists of items in short supply and recommend appropriate steps to prevent leakage to Soviet bloc. New draft resolution will probably ask for “recommendations of appropriate measures” without specifically mentioning embargoes. UK deputy stated he would not revise introductory memorandum and although memo contains specific mention of embargo, there was no objection from other deputies. New draft to be circulated shortly and considered by deputies at first meeting thereafter.

(e) Belgian deputy8 raised question whether DPB and advisory group are, in fact, “most appropriate bodies to undertake the task” and there followed some discussion of possibility using COCOM or COCOM data. French deputy (who is also chairman consultative group in Paris) explained that basic strategic criterion used and data at COCOM’s disposal do not relate directly to criterion of defense requirements and NAT short supply. Question disposed of by UK deputy statement that redraft would merely ask DPB and advisory group undertake investigation, making it possible to use other bodies if, at later date, this seemed appropriate.

Sent Department Depto 400, repeated information Paris 1296 for Embassy and OSR; Copenhagen, The Hague unnumbered.

  1. The revised text of this NATO document was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram Depto 406 from London, January 13, infra.
  2. Sir Frederick Hoyer-Millar.
  3. NATO document C 5–D/4 Final is not printed, but see telegram 1498 to Paris, September 23, 1950, printed in Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 194.
  4. For the text of this agreement, see the agreed minute of the Foreign Ministers Meeting of September 19, 1950, ibid., p. 187.
  5. Vincens de Steensen-Leth.
  6. Jonkheer A. W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer.
  7. Hervé Alphand.
  8. André De Staercke.