The First Secretary of the Embassy in the United Kingdom (King)1 to the Secretary of State 2


No. 2554

Subject: Relationship between the Consultative Group/Coordinating Committee and NATO

At the COCOM meeting of March 7 for further discussion of the COCOM Secretariat, including accommodations and budget (Embassy despatch No. 2568, March 9, 1951, not repeated London3), the Belgian delegate4 stated that while he was without instructions it appeared on the basis of information available to him that NATO was now considering some of the same problems being considered by the Coordinating Committee. Thus, he said, before considering any definite budget for COCOM, delegates should ask the advice of their respective governments as to whether it was planned to establish any relationship between COCOM and NATO or to merge COCOM with NATO. He stated that he did not attach any particular significance to the fact that the German Federal Republic was represented in COCOM but not in NATO because it would be possible for the German Federal Republic to participate in export control work directed against the Soviet Bloc by means of a special NATO committee if COCOM was merged with NATO, or under the present arrangement if COCOM’s work was linked with that of NATO.

The Danish delegate4 said that it was his understanding that the question of moving NATO from London to Paris was under active consideration and if that took place COCOM work might be transferred to a special NATO committee.

The United Kingdom delegate4 stated that there was substance in the remarks of the Danish and Belgian delegates. While he agreed that delegates should seek the views of their governments on these points, nevertheless in the interim the work of COCOM, including efficient functioning of its Secretariat should not be delayed.

The French delegate4 stated that there was no doubt in his mind that COCOM should either be connected with NATO or should be abolished and its functions transferred to NATO. He said that he opposed this latter course because of the Excon experience COCOM [Page 1057] has obtained in its more than a year of operation. The status of the German Federal Republic did present a question but he thought it could be resolved. The whole matter of the relationship of COCOM and NATO required, in his opinion, a quick decision to prevent two organizations from doing the same thing. In response to a query from the United Kingdom delegate as to what actually had been done in NATO that overlapped in COCOM functions, the French delegate gave a brief resume of the January action in the NATO Council of Deputies and the February action in the Defense Production Board with respect to the embargo to the Soviet Bloc of items needed for the defense of Western Europe.

The German delegate5 stated that from what he had heard there appeared to be a need for coordination to prevent confusion between what was being done in NATO and what was being done in COCOM. The question remained, he said, as far as Germany is concerned, whether (1) NATO wanted Germany to become affiliated with NATO’s work and (2) assuming that NATO wanted Germany to be affiliated, whether Germany desired such affiliation.

The Italian delegate5 spoke of the need of coordination between the work of COCOM and NATO, pointing out by way of example that it had been proposed in NATO that “electric generator sets” be controlled. The question of definition of just what was meant by “electric generator sets” was, he said, an important problem as COCOM was fully aware from its past experience.*

It was agreed that the delegates would bring the possibility of conflict between the work of NATO and COCOM in the Excon field to the attention of their respective governments and that when the views of governments had been received the matter could be discussed further.

Separate and apart from the above, we have been informed that at its March 1, 1951 meeting, the European Coordinating Committee made, among others, the following recommendations with respect to U.S. policy:

  • “k) Continued examination of East-West trade and economic warfare. Possibility of placing the Consultative Group and the Coordinating Committee under the NATO Finance and Economic Board and the European Excon Office under OSR should be considered.”

[Page 1058]

Action Requested:

The Department’s instructions on the above problem.6

Nat B. King
  1. Nat B. King served as United States Representative on COCOM and was the Embassy official in charge of matters pertaining to COCOM, the Consultative Group.
  2. Copy sent to London for USDep.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. Not further identified.
  7. Not further identified.
  8. Not further identified.
  9. Not further identified.
  10. The Italian delegate evidently referred to the list attached to DPB(51) 19 February 16, 1951, which we assume replaces the blanket list contained in DPB Secretariat Memorandum No. 43, February 13, 1951. [Footnote in the source text.]
  11. While not available to Excon, we are informed that ECC recommendations are contained in the following London telegrams: 4708, 4709, and 4710, March 1, and 4738, 4751 and Depto 581 March 2. [Footnote in the source text.]
  12. In telegram 5059 to Paris, March 27, the Department of State informed the Embassy that it considered it preferable to discourage discussion of the NATO matter in COCOM or at least to postpone further consideration of this problem. (460.509/3–2151)