460.509/2–651: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Bonsal) to the Secretary of State


4646. Excon. Ref Embtel 4567 February 2, repeated Berlin 71, London 1087, Stockholm 63.1 Following is result yesterday’s meeting UK, US and French COCOM delegates re Sweden and Switzerland.

I. All delegates made it clear meeting was solely to exchange views for purpose information their respective governments. US delegate stated US might be obliged take unilateral action re its exports both Sweden and Switzerland. (USDel was guided in discussion by Deptel 4056 to Paris February 2, repeated Stockholm 631, Bern 1021, London 3644;2 Deptel 1020 to Bern February 2, repeated Paris 4055, Stockholm 630, London unnumbered.)3

II. Switzerland

A. French stated they felt Swiss reply tripartite démarche completely satisfactory and nothing further should be done because Swiss neutrality and results exceeded those expected. UK agreed with France in general, and particularly questioned whether pressure should be exerted against Swiss, saying best tactics this time would probably be await expected Swiss parliamentary action on 1939 legislature. (In this connection see last paragraph Bern’s 1096 January 31, repeated Paris 150, London 34, Stockholm 14.)4 UK nevertheless agreed that individual PC might have take action with respect materials used by Switzerland to manufacture items on IL or its own export control lists.

B. Consensus was following:

[Page 1016]

1. Tripartite reply to Swiss should be along following general lines:

Tripartite governments should agree use Swiss import certificates on ad hoc basis.
While “hold-the-line” policy for list II items apparently satisfactory for the moment, Swiss should be asked for specific IL I items being exported Soviet bloc. (In this connection see paragraph 3 Bern’s 1096 to Department.)
Regret should be expressed that Swiss have no method for preventing export strategic goods made from components of west origin.

2. COCOM should be asked immediately recommend that all PC’s utilize Swiss import certificate system. (See Bern’s 1102 Department February 3, repeated Paris 153, not repeated London or Stockholm.)5

III Sweden

A. French expressed complete satisfaction with Swedish reply except for ball bearings, and noted Swiss reply silent with respect reexport and transit. British views generally the same. We mentioned substance paragraph (1) Stockholm’s 922 February 2 to Department repeated Paris 153, pouched Bern and London6 re indication that transit controls for Sweden satisfactory and that Sweden has agreed not re-export US 1 A and 1 B items. French and UK delegates said they had no previous information these two points.

B. Following was consensus:

1. Tripartite reply to Sweden should be along following general lines:

UK and France to require same assurances re re-exports as given US on 1 A and 1 B items. US to confirm this understanding in its reply. (UK raised question of displacement of such imports by Swedish export indigenous items, e.g. if US licenses ball bearings to Sweden, does present re-export agreement apply only to the US bearings or is Sweden at same time obliged not export similar quantity Swedish bearings.)
Seek assurances that Sweden will not permit transit diversions IL I and II items to Soviet bloc destinations. (This on assumption present 1 A and 1 B re-export guaranty does not now cover diversions to Soviet bloc by means temporary entries or free ports.)
While “hold-the-line” policy for list II items apparently satisfactory for the moment, tripartite governments desire examine Swedish statistics being furnished on specific ILI items being exported Soviet bloc by Swedes.
Regret should be expressed that Swedes have no method for preventing export strategic goods made from components of west origin.
Particular attention should be called to concern with which tripartite governments view ball bearing exports and reiterate request for specific controls. (This point suggested by French who indicated they under considerable pressure to have Swedes control bearings on theory PC control ineffective without Swede cooperation item).

2. COCOM should be asked immediately agree that all PC’s request Swedes give re-export assurances IL I and II items.

IV. Further action with respect both countries

A. Tripartite COCOM delegates should report to COCOM on Swedish and Swiss replies not later than COCOM meeting February 13. This date selected in hope that there might be tripartite governmental agreement with regard next steps toward Switzerland and Sweden by that date and fact that will be last COCOM meeting prior February 26. Tripartite proposals re COCOM action could be discussed that date with view to decision when COCOM reconvenes.

B. All three delegates believe further dealings with Swiss and Swedes should be in Bern and Stockholm on tripartite basis.

C. Department’s instructions and Bern and Stockholm comment are requested soonest so that effort might be made to reach tripartite agreement here in advance February 13 COCOM meeting. In view UK and French attitude expressed above and that of Denmark expressed January 16 CG meeting (Embdesp 1937 January 17, ‘51, not copied Stockholm)7 which we think is fair sampling PC opinion, we do not believe there is any possibility at this time for concerted pressure against Swedes and Swiss through COCOM.

Sent Department 4646; repeated information Bern 72, Stockholm 64, London 1109.

  1. Not printed; it reported that the French requested a meeting between the COCOM delegations of the United States, United Kingdom, and France for the purpose of considering their next moves in light of the responses received from Switzerland and Sweden. (460.509/2–251)
  2. Not printed; it informed the Embassy in Paris that the Department of State was not too optimistic about the outcome of further discussions and therefore the United States delegation to COCOM was instructed not to encourage or concur in any proposals which might defer action regarding U.S. exports to Sweden and Switzerland. (460.509/2–251)
  3. Not printed; it summarized a conversation between Department of State officials and the Swiss Minister on February 1 concerning the import certificate system. (460.509/1–3151)
  4. The last paragraph of telegram 1096 from Bern, not printed, reads in part as follows:

    • “In response my question as to what had happened to the plans for invoking the law of 1939 providing for government control over all exports, he said he had proposed that the law be invoked but the Federal Council was not prepared to do so in peace time without Parliamentary sanction and it would probably be 3 or 4 months before matter could be presented to Parliament. I expressed appreciation his efforts but said such delay and uncertainty was far out of line with our feeling of urgency in the matter. He then said he would like to add an item 4 to the 3 he had made, namely, that every effort would be made to devise measures to stop the export of strategic materials to the East as soon as possible. I told him I would report our conversation to Washington and expect to see him again soon.” (454.009/1–3151)

  5. Not printed; it recommended that the new Swiss guarantees be discussed in COCOM with the view to gaining agreement of all participating countries to immediately avail themselves of this opportunity for checking the actual destination before licensing any shipments of strategic items to Switzerland. (400.549/ 2–151)
  6. Paragraph 1 of telegram 922 from Stockholm reads as follows:

    • “Transit controls for Sweden are satisfactory. Assurances given to US on non-re-export of strategic items undoubtedly will be extended to all PC’s when Sweden is so requested by Paris group. In meantime Embassy believes leaks through re-export are probably as small in Sweden as in any of WE countries.” (460.589/ 2–251)

  7. Not printed. For information concerning the COCOM meeting of January 16, see the editorial note, p. 1012.